Sino-Iranian deal: New Cold War begins!

 Things are happening fast in many parts of the world. Many things have begun to take on new forms.

 It has been reported that Iran has signed a 25-year strategic agreement with China. 

The agreement has been signed at a chaotic moment when Biden called Putin 'a a murderer'. Sino-US tensions are rising over the Taiwan issue. 

China and Pakistan are trying to reach an understanding with India on the one hand and trying to involve India in the Afghan peace process on the other. 

Netanyahu's fate hangs on the balance of Israeli elections - whether he will be able to form a government or lose the prime ministership. 

Unrest is also seen in Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Looking at everything, it seems that something new is happening in the world.

 There is little doubt that recent incidents can give birth to a new Cold War.

Sino-Iranian 25-year agreement

China and Iran have finally formally signed a "broad strategic partnership" agreement that promises to strengthen economic, political and trade ties between the two sides over the next 25 years.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said in an interview that it would take bilateral relations to a new strategic level.

 Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani's speech also reflects this. During a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Rouhani said that the two countries are interested in strengthening long-term relations and cooperation in all fields, including economic and political arenas.

At the same time, Wang Yi said China has always valued the development of relations with Iran and has opposed US sanctions. 

America's highest pressure is an inhumane act. There is no support for it in the international arena.

For the first time, Iran has signed such a long-term agreement with a major world power.

 In 2001, Iran and Russia signed a 10-year cooperation agreement that was primarily focused on nuclear assistance. It was extended to 20 years with a five-year term.

The Tehran-Beijing agreement was signed on the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Iran.

 The two countries already have warm relations and both took part in a joint naval exercise with Russia in the North Indian Ocean in 2019.

Iran and China have traded about 20 billion a year in recent years. 

Oil prices plummeted to such figure from 52 billion in 2014, due to US sanctions after US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from a nuclear deal between Iran and world powers in 2018.

The proposed agreement was first discussed in August 2020. And perhaps it is no coincidence that the Sino-Iranian agreement was signed in Tehran a week after the China-US peace talks in Alaska. 

In doing so, China has sent a clear signal to the Biden administration that its ability to reverse its nuclear deal with Iran, as well as its economic pressure on Iran, depends on China's cooperation.

Earlier, Chinese analysts hailed the January 13 meeting between the Pakistani and Turkish foreign ministers as the beginning of a regional bloc, saying Iran had no choice but to find a way to join the Turkish-Pakistani camp.

Chinese military analysts have predicted a Turkey-Iran-Pakistan deal in a region of the Muslim world with a population of more than 300 million where a large portion of them are technically skilled. 

With whom there will be links of Chinese influence. An important Chinese purpose is to discourage India from cooperating to control China in the American-sponsored quad.

 According to Chinese strategists, India will become isolated if Iran focuses on the Turkish-Pakistani zone.

Meanwhile, Turkey's currency, the lira, has weakened and the country has become somewhat more dependent on China for foreign exchange.

 A consortium of Chinese banks is reportedly ready to lend 2.3 billion to Turkey. China's potential financial support is coming at a time of prosperity in US-Turkish relations. 

The Biden administration has moved the centre of peace talks with the Afghan Taliban from Doha, the capital of Qatar, to Ankara in the hope that Turkey will be more supportive.

The Trump administration promised to reach an agreement with the Taliban on a complete withdrawal of troops by May.

 Turkey now wants to postpone its first meeting with the Afghan government and the Taliban from April to May to put pressure on Washington.

 Turkey wants to buy an S-400 aircraft defence system from Russia. Ankara wants to settle the American objection.

Influence on the geopolitics of Asia

The China-Iran Strategic Partnership Agreement will change the geopolitical landscape of much of Asia, regardless of the bloodshed of the United States. 

Under this, China will invest heavily in Iran's oil and gas, banking, telecom, port development, railway development and dozens of other important sectors. This investment could amount to at least 44 billion over the next 25 years.

The proposed agreement also mentions military and security cooperation, although has not yet been officially announced.

 Earlier, the Middle-East Eye News website reported that under the agreement, China would be able to deploy up to 5,000 troops in Iran to protect its investment. 

This will create the possibility of a first direct Chinese military presence in the Middle East. 

Though Tehran's leaders have flatly denied leasing an Iranian island to China and deploying Chinese troops.

 It is not clear if there is anything like that in the signed agreement still now.

Iran and Russia are partnering on a project called the International North-South Transport Corridor.

 The benefits of China's Belt and Road Initiative have the potential to transcend political and religious differences. 

Free trade between Iran and Pakistan could lead to potential development in both countries due to railways and ports.

 A possible peace deal in Afghanistan would also ease Indian pressure on Pakistan and China.

Influence on the Middle East

China has not traditionally been politically connected to the Middle East. China has more or less economic relations with almost all countries in the Middle East.

 The deal with Iran raises the possibility of Beijing becoming involved in Middle East geopolitics. 

China has proposed a Beijing conference with the participation of Israel-Palestine and other concerned parties. 

The proposal is an indication of China's desire to get involved in Middle Eastern politics.

Saudi Arabia is at the top of the list of conflicts with Iran over the interests of other regional players. BRI also includes other Gulf countries and countries like Egypt. 

Saudi Arabia has taken several initiatives to enhance relations, especially with China.

 Riyadh targeted China and India as fuel markets as the United States, Saudi Arabia's main consumer, stopped buying oil.

 Saudi Arabia has signed several investment agreements with India in the energy sector. Most recently, they pledged to supply oil to China for the next 40 years. 

Beijing appears to be working to reduce Washington's dependence on Saudi security by mediating a settlement with Saudi Arabia. 

There are signs of a compromise between the two sides to end the war in Yemen. 

If so, it could be seen as a major success for Chinese diplomacy in the Middle East.

Why Iran is on this path

Ali Alfoneh, a senior fellow at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, says Iran has turned its back on China in the interests of its existence because of US sanctions. 

Although Iran is one of the world's top oil and gas reserves, US sanctions have made it difficult to sell fuel. 

At the same time, the path of oil field development is practically closed due to a lack of investment. Chinese investment will help them out of that 'crisis'.

What is China's interest?

During Xi Jinping's visit to Iran in 2016, the first two governments reached a preliminary agreement on a 'strategic cooperation agreement'. 

Malay University A Professor of Institute of China of Malay University in Kuala Lumpur, Mahmoud Ali said, "China has been trying for a long time to force Iran into their Belt and Road project. 

China has long been anxious to reduce its trade with the Malacca Strait, especially its dependence on energy supplies, as control of that sea route is still in the hands of the United States and its allies. 

If Iran is sidelined, it will be much easier for China to bypass the sea route and ensure fuel supply. This is a huge geopolitical initiative for China. "

Already, a direct rail link has been established between China and Iran. Known as the 'New Silk Road', it is 2300 km long, connecting Xinjiang with Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan and reaching Tehran. 

Chinese company Sinomac has signed an agreement to build a new railway line in western Iran. 

However, the biggest project in Beijing is the electrification of the 926-kilometer railway line between Tehran and Mashad.

 There is also talk of building a high-speed railway between Tehran-Qom-Isfahan. 

These rail projects will be part of the 'New Silk Road'.

What will be the impact of this relationship?
The deal will boost Iran's economy. Their politics will be stable. Many countries will lose interest in the conflict with Iran. Even many Gulf countries may be interested in such an agreement with China.

A very slow but surely strategic alliance is forging between China-Iran and Pakistan. This could include Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria shortly. 

This new geopolitical prospect could be a headache not only for the United States but also for its ally India.

Offer an alternative to the Suez Canal

Shortly after the signing of the Iran-China agreement, Iran said in a landmark proposal that the risk of the proposed North-South Corridor or NSTC route for transporting goods from Asia to Europe is much lower and much more profitable than the transporting goods on the Suez canal. 

Over a few days, a huge ship was stranded in the Suez Canal, causing hundreds of billions of dollars in damage every day.

The Iranian ambassador to Moscow, Kazem Jalali, wrote in a Twitter message on Saturday that the cost of transporting goods on the route, which is a combination of ships, rail and road, would be reduced by 30 to 60 per cent.

 Also, it currently takes 40 days to transport goods through the Suez Canal, but the proposed route will take only 20 days. 

The seaport of Chabahar in southeastern Iran could play an important role in the implementation of this route. 

Besides Iran, India and Russia have also announced plans for a North-South Transport Corridor or NSTC route. 

This 6,200 km long multipurpose route was proposed in 2000. Later, 10 Central Asian countries joined the scheme.

17-nation anti-US alliance

In other recent news, 18 countries, including Russia, China and Iran, are allying against the United States.

 This alliance is to deal with mockery and sanctions of America as it is using the United Nations against various countries in the world. 

The alliance includes Syria, Palestine, North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba, Algeria, Angola, Belarus, Bolivia, Cambodia, Eritrea, Laos, Nicaragua, St. Vincent and the Grenadines. 

There is no doubt that this alliance is a new polarization of the Cold War.

World is changing

The Sino-Iranian agreement could change many aspects of the world situation. Biden's main promise to come to power is to "bring back America."

 He is trying to regain the confidence of his old allies in achieving this goal. He is bringing his country back to the old track in keeping with international commitments. 

And China and Russia are identifying the two powers as parallel opponents. The inevitable reaction is for the counter-forces to form different spheres with themselves.

 The second phase of the Cold War is inevitable as Russia's defence capabilities and China's economic strength become more aggressive in building new zones. However, the two opponents of the Cold War have some limitations and advantages. 

China and Russia do not need to worry about which country has democracy or human rights. As a result, authoritarian governments are not under any pressure to ally with the bloc.

 However, the impact of this zone on the existing international economic and global structure is still minor. 

Although the rise of the international trade currency as an alternative to the dollar could change the balance that Sino-Russian efforts are pursuing jointly.

 Under the new agreement, the dollar will have no role in Sino-Iranian trade. Of course, China is still more of a supplier to the global economy than a consumer. 

As a result, blocking China-Russia means shrinking European-American markets and immigration opportunities. 

Amid this tug-of-war, the emerging and significant powers are monitoring the situation without uniting. However, it does not seem that the middle countries will have more time to stay in a neutral state. 

The global situation is now beginning to change rapidly. The Sino-Iranian deal could be a big deal.

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