Monday, October 3, 2022

The shift in US focus could mean China’s growing influence in the Middle East: expert

As the United States shifts its focus to domestic issues such as fighting the pandemic, one expert says that China will inevitably take over the Middle East.

The Middle East has historically been a global crossroads for trade and energy because of its abundance of fossil fuels. For a number of years, the United States and China, among many other countries, have relied on energy trade from Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Qatar.

Karim Sadjadpour, a policy analyst at the Carnegie Endowment, believes the United States is shifting its focus from the Middle East. During a panel discussion hosted by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on May 27, Sadjadpour said the United States is no longer as dependent on the Middle East because America has an enormous amount of energy resources.

In the past, the United States has played an important role in ensuring Israel’s security when conflict arises between the countries in the Middle East. Israel’s security remains an important issue for Washington. But according to Sadjadpour, some progressives believe that Israel can take care of itself and no longer require as much commitment from the United States.

Israel
Stripes of light are seen as Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepts rockets sent to Israel from the Gaza Strip, as seen from Ashkelon, Israel, on May 12, 2021. (Amir Cohen, Reuters)

‘As the US reduces its presence in the region, which creates a vacuum for outside powers to fill the vacuum, I think it’s inevitable that China will play a bigger role in filling some of these vacuum cleaners, and it “is going to get entangled in the politics of the region in different ways,” Sadjadpour said.

In the past, Beijing’s main goal in the Middle East has been to ensure the free flow of energy from the region to China. For this to happen, there must be harmony between the nations of the Middle East.

Sadjadpour said China’s strategy in the Middle East had changed from an apolitical, transactional relationship to a more politicized one. In recent weeks, China has been more involved in the issues in the region. He added that Beijing had criticized Washington’s approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, while calling for justice for the Palestinians – despite the fact that China also has close ties with Israel, he said.

Sadjadpour is also an expert on Iran. He used Iran as an example to explain why he believes China will experience a setback, similar to the setbacks the United Kingdom, France and the United States have received in the past. The Iranian people are concerned that China is providing economic and strategic support to Iran, and the technology to oppress its own citizens. The Iranian regime uses repressive tactics to stay in power.

‘China stands between them [Iranian citizens] and a freer society, ”Sadjadpour said. “As China’s presence in the region increases, it will not be possible for China to simply be an apolitical economic player in the region, and it will also come with some costs and a bit of setbacks. ‘

He recalls that during the 2009 uprisings in Iran, 3 million people protested in the streets aimed re-election of then President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

In July 2009, crowds gathered at the University of Tehran for a Friday prayer, which turned into a large demonstration. The prayer lyrics were not the usual slogans ‘Death to America’ and ‘Death to Israel’, but rather the anti-government people ‘Down with China’ and ‘Down with Russia’ chanted because they were China and Russia as the empowerers of the authoritarian regime, Sadjadpour said.

Iran has a large influence on neighboring countries, with militias in Iraq and Yemen. Iran’s attack on oil company Saudi Aramco in Saudi Arabia in September 2019 caused a temporary rise in oil prices worldwide. These issues have caused instability in the region. Sadjadpour believes it is impossible for China to remain apolitical while balancing sovereignty and stability.

Epoch Times Photo
Epoch Times Photo
Helicopters fire rockets during military exercises “Caucasus 2020”, which brings together China, Iran, Pakistan and Burma troops, along with former Soviet Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus on the Kapustin Yar series in Astrakhan region, South -Russia, on 25 September. , 2020. (Dimitar Dilkoff / AFP via Getty Images)

The Beijing Belt and Road Initiative (BRI, also known as One Belt, One Road) guarantees the transfer of resources between China and the Middle East. Launched in 2013, the BRI aims to extend the economic and political influence of the Chinese communist regime to countries in Asia, Europe, Africa and the middle east by recreating ancient China’s side and maritime sideways for trade in the 21st century. The BRI invests Chinese capital in setting up various high-cost infrastructure projects in more than 60 participating countries.

In recent months, Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi and Foreign Minister Wang Yi have visited Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Oman. Their tours touched on the range of interests that China currently has in the region, including a 25-year strategic cooperation agreement signed between China and Iran in March. The agreement includes economic activities such as oil and mining, infrastructure, tourism and cultural exchanges.

Sadjadpour believes that things will become more difficult for the Chinese regime as its influence grows in the Middle East. China will find popular setbacks as European powers have done in the past, and ‘China is now about to enter the ball,’ he said.

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Nation World News Desk
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