Last week's pact between Saudi Arabia and Iran will not usher in peace on earth; instead it offers a harrowing glimpse of the region’s future, as Washington D.C. fumbles and Beijing makes inroads in its iniquitous effort to reshape global endeavors.
The agreement brokered was seen as a major diplomatic triumph for China, the world’s biggest customer of Middle Eastern energy exports, since the United States reduced its need for imports, as the country moves toward so-called energy independence.
Announced in Beijing with Saudi Arabia and Iran's foreign ministers and China’s top diplomat between them, the deal gives a two-month probationary period during which Tehran and Riyadh will attempt to reestablish an official diplomatic relationship. For starters, each country will reopen its embassy in the other’s capital.
Success, thankfully, is not a given, but perilous developments might follow.
The Iran-Saudi proxy war in Yemen could officially come to a close if the two powers advance their newfound relationship.
Syrian tyrant Bashar al-Assad, an Iranian ally, might be deemed a legitimate actor on the world stage.
Although some disagree, the Kingdom's potential addition to the Abraham Accords will become less likely as the Saudis explore the possibility of bypassing America’s diplomatic role in the region.
As its citizenry seeks an end to more than four decades of Islamist dictatorship, the deal also gives the Iranian regime breathing room; it likely limits Israel’s military options — causing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to prepare for potential military action against Iran’s nuclear program, as it enriches uranium toward weapons-grade levels.
Iran relies on China for 30% of its foreign trade, and China has pledged to invest $400 billion in Iran over during the next quarter-century.
Additionally, there are authoritarian commonalities among Saudis and Iranians. Both are willing to engage a regime that disregards human rights. And while the Kingdom and the Islamic Republic have waged a shadow conflict against each other, they have more things in common than many realize. Both have extradition agreements with China, purchase Chinese surveillance technology, and seeking external support to keep domestic political opponents down.
Long term, China’s growing influence will continue.
Over the weekend, even the New York Timesechoed concerns of China “offering an alternative to a US-led world order.”
Chairman Xi, who also secured his dictatorship for life on Friday, is now headed to break bread with Vladimir Putin in Moscow. Xi already visited Saudi Arabia a few months ago and invited the Iranian president to Beijing earlier this year.
Yet despite efforts from isolationists left and right, China has not yet replaced the U.S. as the Middle East’s paramount external security player.
For all of the Biden administration’s work to undermine the U.S.-Saudi alliance and pull back America’s military presence in the Arab world, the national security architecture is large enough for any wrongheaded administration to dismantle.
But this agreement happened partially as a result of Biden’s recent neglect of America's longstanding work to contain Riyadh, China’s largest oil supplier. And some experts are even more indignant.
"Following America's catastrophic surrender in Afghanistan, the Biden Administration's non-stop verbal abuse of Mohammad bin Salman and Biden's appeasement of the Ayatollah as he pursued a dangerous Iran Nuclear Deal, Saudi Arabia concluded that the America is not a reliable partner," New York City lawyer and political fundraiser Eric Levine told me. "Not surprisingly, they have now turned to the Chinese to help protect themselves from an ascendant Iran."
Ari J. Kaufman is a reporter for several U.S. newspapers and magazines, from Minnesota and Ohio to Tennessee and Virginia. He taught school and served as a military historian before beginning his journalism career in 2006. The author of three books, he is also a frequent guest on radio programs and contributes to Israel National News and The Lid.