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High Noon in the Middle East. The Danger of a major Middle East confligration if the Vienna Talks on the JCPOA (Iran Nuclear Deal) Fail. KGNU Hemispheres – Middle East Dialogues. April 27, 2021. Transcript. Part Two

April 30, 2021
China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi (R) shakes hands with Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zari. China And Iran Approach Massive $400 Billion Deal

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(Note: Part One. Part Two starts 14 minutees and 30 seconds into the audio and runs till 26 minutes and 17 seconds)

It’s not just Washington that has not anticipated these changes but also Israel that has been caught – as we say – with its pants down. Despite appearances – U.S. influence in the Middle East is shrinking. And keep in mind, at the end of the day, what we are talking about – although there are technical issues – is a power struggle..that is seen in Washington as a zero sum game… in which if Iran (or China, or Syria) gain, the U.S. sees it as a loss.

Rob Prince

In between that period (just after 2015) and now, they signed a number of agreements with the Chinese, with regard to their (Iranian) oil industry, with regard to infrastructure needs – roads, construction, etc., but all that pales in contrast to the recent $400 billion deal between Iran and China where Iranian oil will be taken. That represents a huge blow to U. S. efforts to isolate Iran and prevent it from exporting even one barrel of its oil at all.

Ibrahim Kazerooni

Rob Prince: Yes.

Listening to you Ibrahim I have this sense that many or most of the listeners in the American public don’t have a clue about what we are talking about. The idea that United States is essentially being marginalized from most of what is going on in the Middle East – it’s not something that the American people understand certainly because the way that the region has been discussed in the media, the way that the government has talked about it – this is a hard pill to swallow.

I would simply remind the listeners of what we have tried to do on this program over the past eleven years. We have tried to deconstruct the mainstream narratives which, in the end, present a picture of what is going on in the Middle East that is skewed, inaccurate. At the same time, if the mainstream narrative is inaccurate, what is going on?

What is clear is that the changes taking place in the Middle East is something that Washington has not anticipated – but now the realities in the region are being forced on the Administration.

It’s not just Washington that has not anticipated these changes but also Israel that has been caught – as we say – with its pants down. Despite appearances – U.S. influence in the Middle East is shrinking. And keep in mind, at the end of the day, what we are talking about – although there are technical issues – is a power struggle..that is seen in Washington as a zero sum game… in which if Iran (or China, or Syria) gain, the U.S. sees it as a loss.

Another point I want to explore that of the Axis of Resistance which is hardly covered in the news here. Well, there is a little bit of coverage in the news here, but what does appear is pretty slanted, it’s vilified for the most part. Listeners should just remember how it was that different Administrations spoke of the Vietnamese revolutionaries, the Nicaraguans, the Chinese Revolution of Mao Tse Tung. It’s not surprising that a coalition of forces anywhere in the world that is challenging U.S. dominance – and in the case of the Middle East also Israel – would be treated in such a fashion.

The Axis of Resistance – it is a kind of united front effort but I want to emphasize how different it is from the traditional “united front’ efforts of the 20th century. It is a different kind of model from the old united fronts of the 1930s, 1940s actually going on into the 1970s and 1980s which were ideologically based, if you like.

The Axis of Resistance is a very different kind of a movement.

It’s not like the Communist International with its center in Moscow and where now the “center” is in Teheran. It’s nothing like that. In fact there is no center. Instead it’s a goal-oriented coalition rather than an ideologically based international movement with a managing center.

Each of the different participants, whether it’s Hezbollah in Lebanon, Syria, Iran, the Iraqis, the Yemeni revolutionaries they all have their own situation that they are dealing with in quite different ways. It’s a case where Syria is concerned that somehow it’s going to wind up an Islamic theocratic state like Iran. Or for that matter Iran is not concerned it is going to be pressured to adapt Chinese Communist influences.

The ideologies of the different participants in the Axis of Resistance are quite different and that is what makes this alliance of forces so interesting. What they share is a common regional programs and common goals that brings them together.

The unfortunate part of what we are hearing here in the United States is that we know so little about the Axis of Resistance. It’s been kept from us… and the Axis of Resistance is strengthening.

This is something that I wanted to emphasize.

At the same time, one of the key elements one of the key elements in this power balance shift has been the Iranian-Chinese relationship and the strengthening of that relationship.

Ibrahim, can you explain what is going on here and what this growing cooperation between China and Iran is about?

Ibrahim Kazerooni: Yes.

Since 2015 once the Iranians realized that even Obama was not prepared to adhere to the terms and conditions of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – they began to gradually move away from the West. Once they realized that nobody in the West – neither the Europeans nor the United States – were prepared to adhere to the conditions, the Iranians realized that they found themselves in some kind of a trap and that their focus should move eastwards towards China and Russia as emerging powers economically, politically and militarily.

In between that period (just after 2015) and now, they signed a number of agreements with the Chinese, with regard to their (Iranian) oil industry, with regard to infrastructure needs – roads, construction, etc., but all that pales in contrast to the recent $400 billion deal between Iran and China where Iranian oil will be taken. That represents a huge blow to U. S. efforts to isolate Iran and prevent it from exporting even one barrel of its oil at all.

Now Iranian ships full of Iranian oil are taking oil to Chinese ports and emptying it there for anyone who wants to purchase it from China. As a part of the agreement, China is protecting Iran from any adverse reactions that might be in the offing, any attacks against Iran. So now Iran has not only its own military capabilities but it also has the backing of Chinese and Russian military capability.

This is why Iran had become emboldened to the degree that now they can dictate their terms and conditions (concerning the revival of the JCPOA) to the United States as they have been doing in Vienna.

I’m sure you remember Rob, that when the original proposal for Vienna came out there was talk of introducing a step-by-step removal of U.S. sanctions. After its deal with China the Iranians rejected this step-by-step approach. Instead they put their negotiating position on the table – either the United States returns to the agreement (JCPOA) as it was agreed upon and endorsed by the United Nations Security Council with full compliance that includes removing all sanctions or the whole arrangement goes down the tubes and Iran will pursue its own path.

This unique understanding, this unique power of Iran ‘s is a result of the deal with the Chinese. Chinese support technologically, economically as well as militarily has placed Iran in a much stronger position, permitting it to literally tell the West to “get lost” and focus its attention eastwards.

Jim Nelson: I want to jump in here

I am assuming that the Washington’s European allies will follow Washington’s dictates pretty much.

Rob Prince: Not entirely, especially where it comes to China.

Jim Nelson: With the original deal (2015), China was not as involved, not militarily anyway?

Ibrahim Kazerooni:Well they (the Chinese) were involved in 2015. In 2015, all of the power involved came to sign the JCPOA as well as it being approved by the United Nations Security Council. Then Trump decided to withdraw the United States from the agreement.

Ever since that move on Trump’s part – while the Europeans mildly criticize Washington for withdrawing – the strongest criticism for the U.S. withdrawal has come from China and Russia.
The Russian military support went towards Syria, now Chinese military support to Iran has increased. So as far as the United States sees it, China and Russia are now part and parcel of the Axis of Resistance.

The presence of Russia in Syria emboldened that country to continue fighting against U.S. domination. The presence of China in Iran now has emboldened the Iranians to stand up in these international negotiations and actually dictate the terms and conditions of engagement in those negotiations that they are prepared to agree to.

All this is a great embarrassment for the United States; they could have done better.

Rob, you want to add anything?

Rob Prince: A couple of points…

In response to the question Jim raised..

The problem for Europe as I see it, is the following: strategically speaking, it’s just stuck in the U.S. camp – NATO and all that. And there it just plays a subsidiary role be it in Central Europe, the Middle East, Africa. But still sees the great potential for its future economically with China. Europe wants to be part and parcel of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. So there is a fundamental tension between its strategic alliance with Washington and its economic future.

The European approach to China is clearly not as antagonistic as it is towards Russia.

But even in its approach to Russia, Europe is caught up in serious contradictions. It can be seen in a recent spat over the completion of the Nordstream 2 pipeline. The United States is trying to pressure the Germans not to complete this natural gas pipeline which will give Germany and Europe an alternative to Middle East oil and gas so that they are not so completely dependent upon sources from Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Qatar, etc.

The U.S. wants to prevent Germany – and through it Europe – from not getting natural gas from Russia because of the obvious political consequences. This would necessitate a modicum of normalization of relations between Germany and Russia.

Not that German intentions towards Russia are so innocent, but still, at the same time Germany is caught too. It’s a little bit complicated concerning the relations between the United States, Europe and the Russians and Chinese – and that flows over into the Middle East.

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