Saudi-Iran breakthrough under China | By Imtiaz Rafi Butt


Saudi-Iran breakthrough under China

THE vision of regional connectivity was far-fetched in the face of conflict in the Gulf which has been bridged by the Chinese Government. The resumption of diplomatic ties and co-operation agreement signed between Iranian and Saudi diplomats is an achievement that has put the whole region into a dynamic motion. A six-year old cut off has been bridged. Two nations on the brink of war have been brought to the table, all under the leadership of China. The United Nations stands in thankfulness as the world watches in amusement. The Middle Eastern politics has changed overnight because of China. It has opened up new avenues of progress, growth and co-operation. There are so many doors of trade, commercial activity and connectivity that have been initiated. All this is perhaps the most important event of this year.

For six years, there has been no contact between Saudi Arabia and Iranian Government. The tension between these two powerful nations is spread across the Gulf. They have locked horns over ideology and sectarian differences for decades, casting a shadow over the Muslim world and the OIC. In Yemen, Lebanon and many other countries, proxy wars are being waged which have resulted in loss of countless lives. Experts are of the view that the West has fanned these flames, with the strategy of ‘Divide and Rule’, the West and the United States in particular, have retained a firm hold on oil supply. The Saudis are the largest buyers of Western arms and munition and sell oil at reduced rates to the same. All this was being done in the garb of conflict with Iran. At last, the breakthrough has been achieved under the leadership of China.

Any doubts about Beijing being a superpower are now removed. The two Muslim nations agreed to peace and opening of diplomatic ties, a call of peace and harmony in the Middle East and the larger Asian continent. What could not be achieved through numerous Muslim nations has been done by China. Now, Saudi Arabia and Iran will be working under the fold of Chinese projects and leadership, much like Pakistan. And without their animosity, the Me region will thrive and Pakistan will greatly benefit from it.  The Saudis and Iranians have already shown interest in CPEC and OBOR projects and now will be formally investing in the CPEC and OBOR regime. The United Nations issued a statement thanking the leadership of China in achieving this remarkable success.

Hand-in-hand with the signing of peace deal between Saudi and Iran, there was another gigantic milestone, the re-election of Xi Jinping for another five-year term. This is an unprecedented event in the history of China. Global strategists have referred to Xi as the most powerful man in the world but he is bent on propagating his vision that he wants to see China the greatest power in the world.  Xi Jinping is now the longest ruling Chairman and the most influential President and China stands together with its allies. Pakistan is one great example. China has helped out Pakistan through decades. Recently, millions of dollars have been sent to Pakistan to improve the liquidity crisis and this is a signal to the world that China does not abandon its allies. Not like the United States did after the Afghan War and the War on Terror. China stands by its commitment and when it says that the vision for the future is connectivity, commerce and trade, it means to implement it through practical means. This development also brings back Pakistan back in the limelight. And it will continue playing its part.

General Asim Munir, Chief of Army Staff visited Gwadar in March and gave assurance and hope to the prospects of Gwadar and Balochistan as a whole. This visit is of key importance. It was a strategic visit that is a signal to the world and to China with special emphasis that Pakistan is committed to realizing the vision of CPEC and regional connectivity of Asia with China. All this becomes even more paramount when it is combined with the notion that Gwadar is a major stepping stone in the realization of One Belt One Road Project. It is the focal point of China energy imports and exports to the Middle East. There is unimaginable potential in Pakistan. Now that Iran and China are on the same page, there are lesser hurdles for Pakistan in entering into agreements. In the previous week, a 100MW energy project has been launched with Iran. This will lessen the burden of reliance on imported fuel for Pakistan.

Under CPEC, multiple projects have been completed and the roadblocks for OBOR are being removed one by one. On the other hand, Russian oil tankers are on their way. This will reduce Pakistan’s reliance on import of fuel in American dollars, which is the main crisis for the current government. The advent of Iranian-Saudi coalition will also open new avenues for Pakistan as the shared border and coastline is the most attractive and closest trading point for Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries. Also, Qatar has been moving closer to Iran which has annoyed the Saudis which will also be removed as a hindrance in the long term. There is hope for genuine peace and harmony in the region.

It is safe to conclude that we live in a world that is undergoing rapid change. Geo-politics are at the centre of everything and behind geo-politics is the foundation of sound economic independence and dominance through regional connectivity. The United States has been a failure when it comes to becoming a world leader and its power within its allies is dwindling. American foreign policy has been marked with wars, violence and destruction, at the same time, China is offering an alternate version of progress and dominance, ie dominance and influence through mutual gains, growth and peace. No one can affirm what the future holds, Iran and Saudis are the most critical countries when it comes to the Middle East, peace between them may or may not last, but for now, ice has melted and it has been managed by the new world leader, beyond considerations of religion, sect or values, the goal, the aim here is progress, trade and growth through peaceful means and that is what everyone should be hoping for.