Guest article: China strikes back – President Xi makes bold Middle East geopolitical move on first day of historic third term
Unedited Guest article: China strikes back – President Xi makes bold Middle East geopolitical move on first day of historic third term!
Ohio, USA 10 March 2023
China’s President Xi opened his historic third term today with a stunning, bold, and powerful geopolitical thunderbolt by orchestrating today’s Saudi-Iranian agreement to reopen diplomatic relations. This rapprochement between two arch foes divided by mistrust, enmity, and conflicting regional power aspirations (exacerbated by religious differences) carries many implications. First, I’d suggest it makes Israeli PM Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu suddenly more reliant on the US once again, for security reasons and more. Under this interpretation, I believe such reliance may commensurately propel Bibi to consider a more flexible stance on the current judicial “reform” legislation tearing the Jewish community apart (both inside Israel and worldwide) because Israel can’t rely on the Saudis for offensive military power projection vis-a-vis Iran as much anymore (which until today Israel increasingly believed they could). Thus, Bibi needs to cooperate more closely with President Joe Biden once again and potentially seek compromise on the proposed Israeli judicial “reform” legislation (which would greatly please the Biden administration as well as Bibi’s internal opponents), as the winds diminish from the sails of the Abraham Accords and Bibi needs to recalibrate accordingly.
Until now, Bibi was hoping the previous Abraham Accords would mark the de facto death and irrelevance of the wider, prior international peace structure because Bibi could triangulate Middle East nations into one off treaties with Israel (as they each forsook the Palestinians). With this reading, Bibi believed Saudi Arabia could well be the next and most crucial “domino” Middle Eastern nation to sign onto this “alternative” Abraham process outside the earlier Oslo/UN framework of land for peace and accompanying two state solution.
Today’s sudden Saudi-Iranian entente reminds us there’s ultimately no real alternative, in the end, to the basic thrust and inexorable gravity of the Oslo Accords—even though Oslo appeared to be a languishing phoenix (whose return heretofore seemed increasingly uncertain). This implies further Israeli settlements in the West Bank must be curtailed and land must be gradually returned for peace within security guarantee structures yet to be defined and negotiated, as the Israeli occupation will inevitably sunset one day. That suggests there’s considerably less runway for a continued “land grab” by Israeli settlers (that the Abraham Accords seemingly suggested could well be possible, if not even greenlit). That’s as until today, it seemed the Palestinian cause would be jettisoned by Gulf countries in exchange for vital (if not even existential) Israeli security protection against Iran (including extension of the Israeli nuclear umbrella)—with Middle Eastern Gulf nations thus silently acquiescing to Bibi’s hawkish policies inside Israel and towards the Palestinians, to save themselves from the menace emanating from Iran.
From a timing perspective, I believe the Saudis entered into today’s initiative with Iran because they perceive Bibi and even the vaunted Israeli economy losing luster—due to the extensive, ongoing, and unprecedented opposition demonstrations currently occurring inside Israel (and the resulting potential instability of Bibi’s new coalition government). Moreover, the Saudis seek an even more dominant position within OPEC+. That means they desire Iran to be a friendly, more compliant OPEC+ member once again (instead of a potential “wildcat” oil producer). In this fashion, Saudi Arabia amplifies its power as global oil swing producer and undisputed price maker as US shale becomes less dominant. For Iran, they almost certainly need Saudi oil servicing knowhow, technology, and equipment to upgrade their dilapidated oil infrastructure (which they can’t easily obtain themselves due to Western sanctions).
Furthermore, this China organized détente carries significant implications for the Ukraine War too. That’s as China (while retaining some semblance of “semi-neutrality” in the Ukraine Russia conflict, at least from an armaments supply standpoint) has now effectively moved the Saudis closer to Russia via today’s Iranian entente (as the Iranians openly supply Russia with attack air drones and other matériel, as key ally in their war effort).
In sum and as result, Bibi needs the Americans more than he did 24 hours ago. This opens up the pathway for greater cooperation between Ukraine’s President Zelensky and Bibi now as well (two national leaders who share the same Jewish faith)—as yet another direct aftershock of today’s Saudi-Iranian accords.
Finally and not least, today’s Middle Eastern rapprochement suggests Saudi Arabia could shift (at least in part) from pricing its oil in US Dollars—which would weaken the interlocking and mutually reinforcing Petro-Dollar financial and military relationship between Saudi Arabia and the Western alliance led by the United States. Such an evolution would accrue to China’s great advantage—as the US Dollar’s global currency reserve status (in concert with its companion SWIFT payment network) inordinately amplify US economic might and force projection (which the USA understandably wields in tandem to reinforce its security objectives and achieve policy goals).
In closing, President Xi has begun his third term with an unexpected jolt of lightning as a multi-dimensional and increasingly encompassing Cold War heats up between the US and China—all while the Ukraine/Russia hot war rages on as a proxy conflict between NATO supplied Ukrainian forces and President Putin’s Russian military and irregulars.
Thus, today’s Saudi-Iranian surprise diplomatic understanding negotiated by China (overcoming deep seated Saudi/Iranian rivalry, acrimony, and distrust) represents a major geopolitical move on the international chess board in the ongoing shadow boxing match currently underway between the USA and China. As such, we can expect more dramatic repercussions and counter moves in the weeks and months ahead as the nations mentioned here craft shifting and opportunistic alliances in their unceasing Clausewitzian maneuver for strategic advantage across the world.
Guest article by Mr. David Schane