Today it is clear to everyone that three new power centers have emerged in Asia – Russia, Iran, and China, which are independent and oppose the ideology of expansion and a unipolar world propagated by the West and the United States.
Iran’s accession to the SCO, and the active development in various areas of cooperation between Russia, China, and Iran is undoubtedly the most important geopolitical event that completely reshapes the balance of power not only in the Middle East but in the whole of Eurasia. The new geopolitical axis formed by these three states will make it possible to divide the spheres of influence in the region according to new principles. The region is not only rich in human and natural resources, but also has great military and economic potential, as well as sea and land corridors connecting Europe and Asia. This new geopolitical axis is of particular importance today against a backdrop of multiple increases in the cost of raw materials, and the inevitable decline in European industrial capacity, which will only spur the rise of the economies of China and the countries of Southeast Asia.
Moreover, the world economy simply has no other reasonable alternative than the further industrialization of Russia, Iran, and China. Finally, it is no secret that the West is no longer competitive, while Africa and the countries of Latin America have infrastructural and purely geographic difficulties with logistics, lower labor productivity, and systemic security problems. Under these conditions, the demand for raw materials in the South Asian region will constantly increase, and export supplies of hydrocarbons from both Russia and Iran will fully cover the further industrialization of these two states.
The agreement on long-term cooperation between Tehran and Moscow, which was also accompanied by the signing by Iran and China of a large-scale agreement on comprehensive cooperation for a period of 25 years, providing for investments worth $450 billion, speaks of laying the foundations for the most powerful strategic alliance of three states in the East in the history of international relations. This Moscow-Beijing-Tehran triangle, much heard of in recent years, may transform into a tripartite alliance that will be aimed to some extent at countering the United States, which is increasing its political and economic pressures. “The Beijing-Tehran-Moscow axis is already taking shape,” write the Eurasian Times, Newsweek, and many other media outlets.
Against the backdrop of Israel’s recently intensified military threats against Iran, as well as militant-aggressive statements by many military leaders and politicians of the United States and EU countries against Russia and China, cooperation between Moscow, Beijing, and Tehran in strengthening defense capabilities received an additional boost. This was particularly reflected in the holding of multilateral naval exercises involving Russia, China, and Iran, which took place in mid-February 2021 in the northern part of the Indian Ocean and are already becoming the norm. In particular, the fact that Iran, Russia, and China will hold another joint naval exercise this fall was reported by Mehr News, citing a recent statement by the Chief of the General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, Mohammad Bagheri. It is already known that these exercises will be held in the northern part of the Indian Ocean. Pakistan, Oman, and a number of other countries are expected to participate.
According to Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, it is the United States that contributes to the active rapprochement of the countries due to the political and economic restrictions it imposes. And considering the fact that the aggressive policy of the West is getting stronger every day, cooperation, including military cooperation, between Moscow, Beijing and Iran will also grow and improve. In this context, further agreements on unrestricted access to Iranian air bases by Chinese and Russian aircraft are not ruled out, for which the construction of special dual-use facilities near the existing airports in the cities of Hamedan, Bandar Abbas, Chah Bahar and Abadan, in particular, can be launched.
There is an increased need for multifaceted cooperation and collaboration in all three of these countries, especially in light of the sanctions policies of the United States and its Western allies.
Iran is important to both Russia and China, not only because of its raw material base and its geostrategic location on the ‘North-South’ and ‘One Belt, One Road’ transport routes, but also as a military-political partner in the Middle East, Syria and Afghanistan. Especially considering that Tehran has been actively influencing the situation in the region over the past year, mainly by acting as a mediator between the conflicting parties in Afghanistan and trying to destroy Pakistan’s monopoly over the Taliban (the movement is banned in the Russian Federation). In the chaotic Middle East, the capabilities of Iranian intelligence and Shiite militias in certain countries are also needed for a more objective assessment of ongoing processes.
China’s growing interest in Iran has its own strategy, which is perfectly natural and understandable. – The United States constantly proclaims its “strategic” interests around the world, for which it has established hundreds of American military bases abroad, especially in the Middle East. Unlike the United States, Beijing is focused on protecting its interests in proximity to its borders and is also concerned about the security of transportation routes connecting China to sources of raw materials and trading partners. Recently, Washington has made no secret of its desire to curtail its presence in the Middle East and focus on confronting China in East Asia. And under these conditions, it is particularly advantageous for China today to stretch US forces, gain a foothold in the Middle East, and increase its influence there to deflect the threat from its borders. In this regard, China’s growing interest in Iran is fully justified.
Moreover, Iran, China, and Russia have a common interest in resolving the Afghan crisis, the impact of which on the entire Asian region is considerable. And there is also the situation in the countries of Central Asia, which the United States has recently targeted to destabilize and exacerbate the various internal and interstate conflicts there. Added to these common concerns are the joint efforts to find a peaceful settlement to the Syrian crisis, which is affecting not only Iran’s security but also the overall situation in the Middle East. Keep in mind that all three countries need a partner to counter the aggressive policies of the United States. Therefore, the orientation of this new axis of the three states, even if it is not declared, is quite understandable and comprehensible.
Vladimir Odintsov, political observer, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.