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UNSC should act to freeze Israeli settlements in West Bank

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Israeli regime exists due mainly to its illegal operations as a part of its state policy of expansionism, backed by USA and its NATO allies. Palestinian authority has once again called on the United Nations Security Council to act against Israeli settlement building, in the wake of the latest Jerusalem Municipality’s decision, on instruction from Tel Aviv, to advance 770 new Jewish homes in its Gilo neighborhood, which is located over the Green Line.

“This is yet another opportunity for the international community to show its real commitment for the two-state solution, and to take all needed action in order to have Israel fully cease settlement construction in the occupied state of Palestine,” said PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat.

Erekat said that he has asked the State of Egypt and the leaders of Arab countries to call for an urgent meeting of the Arab Quartet, in order to submit a draft resolution to the United Nations Security Council to halt settlement expansion.”

Discrimination based on religion, race and sex would be illegal in any other civilized country. But Israel argues its illegal settlement law is final and ultimate. It added that building for Jews is advanced everywhere in the capital based on Zionist “construction laws” and the city’s master zoning plan, and that such construction is important to ensure the city’s future by providing housing for young couples.

Terror state’s criminal settlements

Though Tel Aviv is its large capital as approved by all big powers, including USA and UK, Israel , in order to deny the Palestinians their right to make Jerusalem its capital, maintains that Jerusalem would remain its united capital in any final status agreement with the Palestinians for a two-state solution if the world wants. As such, it argues that it has a right to build Jewish houses for its criminal minded “residents” in all areas of the city. “We won’t lend a hand to a freeze of Jewish building in Israel’s capital,” said the Jerusalem municipality.

Israel uses its illegal settlements inside Palestine territories to get maximum concessions from Palestine and Quartet member states. The plan for what is known as Gilo’s southern slope was submitted on July 21 before the Jerusalem District and Planning Committee, which means that there is now a 60-day objection period. Initial approval for the project was given in 2012, as the UN General Assembly voted to upgrade Palestine’s status by recognizing it as a non-member state, rather than an observer mission. The municipality said that depositing the plans was simply a technical action that followed from that initial 2012 approval.

According to the non-governmental group Ir Amim, the project if approved would help solidify Israel’s iron-terror hold on the southwest perimeter of the capital, which abuts both the Palestinian city of Bethlehem and the Gush Etzion area of the West Bank.

The municipality is already building 797 new homes on Gilo’s western slope, near the site slated for the new 770 unit project. Gilo is located near the Jewish neighborhood of Har Homa, and the location of what will be the new Jewish neighborhood of Givat Hamatos. Palestinians have argued that an Israeli action in that end of the city is creating a wedge that is isolating Bethlehem from Israeli- Arab neighborhoods of the city and the surrounding Palestinian villages.

Israel-US terror twins fool world on two state solutions

Israel has been isolated on Palestine issue but it still calls all shots thanks to USA. Off and on Tel Aviv does talk about “two state solution” but only as a ploy to fool the world. Any wedge, real or artificial, the Palestinians have claimed, would make it difficult to enact a two-state solution that places east Jerusalem within the boundaries of a Palestinian state. “While Israeli ministers complain about a ‘building freeze,’ Israel continues its policy of one-sided actions that complicate and distance the possibility for a two-state solution,” said Ir Amim. “The past year makes it clear that the peace and security which Israelis deserve require a totally different policy.”

Erekat said that “Israeli settlement construction in general, and in and around Occupied East Jerusalem in particular, is part of Israel’s political decision to bury the two-state solution by consolidating its illegal occupation and apartheid regime over the Palestinian people.”

The UN condemned the Gilo project, and said it too was concerned by its impact on the diplomatic process. “I reiterate that settlements are illegal under international law, and urge the government of Israel to cease and reverse such decisions,” said Nickolay Mladenov, the UN’s special coordinator to the Middle East peace process. He noted that earlier this month the Quartet — composed of the United States, Russia, the UN and the European Union — had issued a report in which it called on Israel to stop such building. “Continuing on the current trajectory entrenches a one-state reality of perpetual occupation and conflict that is incompatible with realizing the national aspirations of both peoples,” he added.

Mladenov said he was also worried about reports that settlers were attempting to rebuild an outpost in the Kiryat Arba settlement, known as Mitzpe Avichai. The two projects, he said, “come against the backdrop of statements by some Israeli ministers that there should never be a Palestinian state or calls for the full annexation of the West Bank. Such moves raise legitimate questions about Israel’s long-term intentions.”

PLO Secretary General, Dr. Saeb Erekat on Monday had strongly condemned the decision of the occupation authorities to advance plans to build 770 units in the illegal settlement of Gilo, built on lands of the Palestinian towns and villages of: Beit Jala, Beit Safafa and Wallajeh, between Bethlehem and Occupied East Jerusalem. “This approval comes as Israel continues the construction of its Annexation Wall in the same area (Cremisan), as part of Israel’s settlement enterprise in the Occupied State of Palestine,” Erekat said. In an official statement, Erekat said that such a decision further reflects the failure of the international community to stop Israel’s settlement expansion.

The decision comes as Israel receives more assurances that no action will be taken against its illegal policies of colonization and annexation of Occupied Territory, a war crime under International law. Israeli settlement construction in general, and in and around Occupied East Jerusalem in particular, is part of Israel’s political decision to bury the two-state solution by consolidating its illegal occupation and Apartheid regime over the Palestinian people.”

However, Erekat said that this is yet another opportunity for the international community to show its real commitment for the two-state solution and take all needed action in order to have Israel fully cease settlement construction in the Occupied State of Palestine. “We have asked the State of Egypt and the leaders of Arab countries during our recent visit to call for an urgent meeting of the Arab Quartet in order to submit a draft resolution to the United Nations Security Council to halt settlement expansion.” Erekat added. He concluded that the PA will continue to exert all efforts to confront the Israeli illegal colonization projects with all possible tools towards ending the occupation and establishing our independent sovereign state on 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that Moscow considers the existing status quo on Palestine inadmissible and calls for relaunching the negotiation process. “We also intend to continue to provide all possible assistance in resolving the Palestinian problem acting through both the bilateral channels and within various multilateral formats,” the head of state said in his message of greetings to the heads of state and government of the Arab League member-countries. “We believe the existing status quo in unacceptable and favor creating the conditions for the speedy relaunching of the negotiation process that will be aimed at creating an independent, viable and integral Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem peacefully coexisting with its neighbors,” the president said.

Russia did propose to mediate between the two and find a amicable solution. USA disapproves of Russian role in any peace talks between Palestine and Israel.

The US Role in the Israeli-Palestine Conflict

While with its expansionist-holocaust agenda in Palestine, Israel remains the unavoidable obstacle to peace in West Asia- beyond Mideast- USA with its immoral backing to the illegal regime and its crimes against Palestinians makes developments worse for the besieged Palestinians.

In fact it is the support of USA and its imperialist allies that forces Israeli military and Mossad to keep attacking the Palestinians, killing even children so that they could achieve a total and complete holocaust of Palestinians and Israel could be the owners of all Palestinian lands. A full expansionism!

This immoral and illegal partnership extends back to the creation of the Jewish state when the United States recognized it. The history of this partnership has been described in many books, in the beginning, mostly favorable to Israel then gradually, over the years, becoming more and more hostile to it as the truth of Israel’s activities to establish itself as a nuke cum terror nation in Palestine at the expense of the indigenous population of the Palestinian peoples has come to light.

Israel has succeeded during its expansionist regime in Mideast upon its imposition on Palestine lands, in fully terrorizing the Palestinians and at same time naming them the so-called “terrorists”. USA and its fascist allies now call the victims in Palestine as theorists and aggressor Israel as the “affected” nation.

In fact, it is the Palestinians who face a real existential threat from US-Israeli terror twins – and not Israel as Madam Clinton keeps crying loud for the Jewish votes in the poll for the presidency. After all, Israel literally controls entire West Asia and entire third world which it sells terror goods, including India, a so-called terror victim a so-called terror victim.

It should come as no surprise to anyone who has paid some attention to horrors of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict over the years, that America, a staunch defender of Zionist crimes on UNSC by its veto, has been playing mischief by actively playing an effective partner in Israel’s continued effacement of Palestine from the map of the Middle East.

Of course, the hardcore fanatics Zionists who run Israel deny that there is hostility to its misrule, and the Zionists in the Jewish Diaspora in the US, UK, Europe and elsewhere fully support this line. However, more and more of those very people are beginning to wonder if Israel’s position in the world is as acceptable as it could be had it not turned from its original hopes for a peaceful home for the Jewish people into a war mongering nautilus attempting to divide the Middle East into a splintering of failed states. In this, the United States is perfectly complicit, if not actually the main cause.

Israel has used the US as its protector and supporter, while the US has used Israel as the raison d’être for its own bellicosity in the Middle East and other parts of the world. Jeremy Hammond has taken upon himself the task of explaining in great detail the relationship between Israel and the US, and how the US aids and abets the Jewish State to sustain a stranglehold on the Palestinians. In fact, is quite easy to explain the blood thirsty behavior of Israeli Jews and hatred of Global Jews for Islam. USA and Europe also have similar hate “feelings” toward Islam and Palestine.

Observation

For years, the world has been wondering why Israel and the Palestinians cannot sit down over a peace pipe and work out their differences. It would seem simple to end the killing and suffering of thousands of Palestinians and a few Jewish peoples. But Israel makes it difficult even for USA, Russia and France to create two independent and equal states side by side, and it opposes merger into one secular state with all citizens having equal rights.

The rise of Hamas and the Zionist aggression in the name of Operation Cast Lead, the first war on Gaza (more of a chicken-shoot slaughter than a war) show Israel controls the behavior of Palestinians in general and Hamas and others in Gaza in particular . The numerous attempts at a peace process were never planned to succeed and solve the crisis. The hypocrisy of Obama and his role in obstructing progress in making peace did not let the bogus peace talks to succeed.

A two-state solution alone can find an end to this crisis. Now, some experts believe that if a one-state solution is what is ultimately sought, then Palestine must have sovereignty through its own state before it can negotiate on equal terms for sharing one state. That sounds logical, but given Israel’s and America’s intransigence, there is no way a two solution could ever be attained.

Israel is adamant as the illegal occupier of Palestine. As Israel plays mischief and hides behind the Pentagon-CIA twins, peace talks, tried many times, and peace seems further away today than ever before.

In every instant of Israel’s crimes against humanity, the USA seconds Israel’s justifications. But then, given the US’ own crimes against humanity in its illegal wars against Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, etc., why wouldn’t they?

American foreign policy has failed miserably and one of the major causes is Israel whose genocides it is bent upon defending. . .

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Iran Gives Russia Two and a Half Cheers

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Photo: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov meets with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in Moscow, March 15 2022. Credit: @Amirabdolahian via Twitter.

Iran’s rulers enthusiastically seek to destroy the liberal world order and therefore support Russia’s aggression. But they can’t manage full-throated support.

For Iran, the invasion of Ukraine is closely related to the very essence of the present world order. Much like Russia, Iran has been voicing its discontent at the way the international system has operated since the end of the Cold War. More broadly, Iran and Russia see the world through strikingly similar lenses. Both keenly anticipate the end of the multipolar world and the end of the West’s geopolitical preponderance.

Iran had its reasons to think this way. The US unipolar moment after 1991 provoked a deep fear of imminent encirclement, with American bases in Afghanistan and Iraq cited as evidence. Like Russia, the Islamic Republic views itself as a separate civilization that needs to be not only acknowledged by outside players, but also to be given ana suitable geopolitical space to project influence.

Both Russia and Iran are very clear about their respective spheres of influence. For Russia, it is the territories that once constituted the Soviet empire. For Iran, it is the contiguous states reaching from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean — Iraq, Syria, Lebanon — plus Yemen. When the two former imperial powers have overlapping strategic interests such as, for instance, in the South Caucasus and the Caspian Sea, they apply the concept of regionalism. This implies the blocking out of non-regional powers from exercising outsize economic and military influence, and mostly revolves around an order dominated by the powers which border on a region.

This largely explains why Iran sees the Russian invasion of Ukraine as an opportunity that, if successful, could hasten the end of the liberal world order. This is why it has largely toed the Russian line and explained what it describes as legitimate motives behind the invasion. Thus the expansion of NATO into eastern Europe was cited as having provoked Russian moves. “The root of the crisis in Ukraine is the US policies that create the crisis, and Ukraine is one victim of these policies,” argued Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei following the invasion.

To a certain degree, Iran’s approach to Ukraine has been also influenced by mishaps in bilateral relations which largely began with the accidental downing of a Ukrainian passenger jet by Iranian surface-to-air missiles in January 2020, killing 176 people. The regime first denied responsibility, and later blamed human error.

Iran, like several other of Russia’s friends and defenders,  the ideal scenario would have been a quick war in which the Kremlin achieved its major goals.

Protracted war, however, sends a bad signal. It signals that the liberal order was not in such steep decline after all, and that Russia’s calls for a new era in international relations have been far from realistic. The unsuccessful war also shows Iran that the collective West still has very significant power and — despite well-aired differences — an ability to rapidly coalesce to defend the existing rules-based order. Worse, for these countries, the sanctions imposed on Russia go further; demonstrating the West’s ability to make significant economic sacrifices to make its anger felt. In other words, Russia’s failure in Ukraine actually strengthened the West and made it more united than at any point since the September 2001 terrorist attacks on the US.

A reinvigorated liberal order is the last thing that Iran wants, given its own troubled relations with the collective West. The continuing negotiations on a revived nuclear deal will be heavily impacted by how Russia’s war proceeds, and how the US and EU continue to respond to the aggression. Iran fears that a defeated Russia might be so angered as to use its critical position to endanger the talks, vital to the lifting of the West’s crippling sanctions.

And despite rhetorical support for Russia, Iran has been careful not to overestimate Russia’s power. It is now far from clear that the Kremlin has achieved its long-term goal of “safeguarding” its western frontier. Indeed, the Putin regime may have done the opposite now that it has driven Finland and Sweden into the NATO fold. Western sanctions on Russia are likely to remain for a long time, threatening long-term Russian economic (and possible regime) stability.

Moreover, Russia’s fostering of separatist entities (following the recognition of the so called Luhansk and Donetsk “people’s republics” and other breakaway entities in Georgia and Moldova) is a highly polarizing subject in Iran. True there has been a shift toward embracing Russia’s position over Ukraine, but Iran remains deeply committed to the “Westphalian principles” of non-intervention in the affairs of other states and territorial integrity. This is hardly surprising given its own struggles against potential separatism in the peripheries of the country.

Many Iranians also sympathize with Ukraine’s plight, which for some evokes Iran’s defeats in the early 19th century wars when Qajars had to cede the eastern part of the South Caucasus to Russia. This forms part of a historically deeply rooted, anti-imperialist sentiment in Iran.

Iran is therefore likely to largely abstain from endorsing Russia’s separatist ambitions in Eastern Ukraine. It will also eschew, where possible, support for Russia in international forums. Emblematic of this policy was the March 2 meeting in the United Nations General Assembly when Iran, rather than siding with Russia, abstained from the vote which condemned the invasion.

Russia’s poor military performance, and the West’s ability to act unanimously, serve as a warning for the Islamic Republic that it may one day have to soak up even more Western pressure if Europe, the US, and other democracies act in union.

In the meantime, like China, Iran will hope to benefit from the magnetic pull of the Ukraine war. With so much governmental, military and diplomatic attention demanded by the conflict, it will for the time being serve as a distraction from Iran’s ambitions elsewhere. 

Author’s note: first published in cepa

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Ignoring the Middle East at one’s peril: Turkey plays games in NATO

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Image source: NATO

Amid speculation about a reduced US military commitment to security in the Middle East, Turkey has spotlighted the region’s ability to act as a disruptive force if its interests are neglected.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan set off alarm bells this week, declaring that he was not “positive” about possible Finnish and Swedish applications for membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

NATO membership is contingent on a unanimous vote in favour by the organisation’s 30 members. Turkey has NATO’s second-largest standing army. 

The vast majority of NATO members appear to endorse Finnish and Swedish membership. NATO members hope to approve the applications at a summit next month.

A potential Turkish veto would complicate efforts to maintain trans-Atlantic unity in the face of the Russian invasion.

Mr. Erdogan’s pressure tactics mirror the maneuvers of his fellow strongman, Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban. Mr. Orban threatens European Union unity by resisting a bloc-wide boycott of Russian energy.

Earlier, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia rejected US requests to raise oil production in an effort to lower prices and help Europe reduce its dependence on Russian energy.

The two Gulf states appear to have since sought to quietly backtrack on their refusal.

In late April, France’s TotalEnergies chartered a tanker to load Abu Dhabi crude in early May for Europe, the first such shipment in two years.

Saudi Arabia has quietly used its regional pricing mechanisms to redirect from Asia to Europe Arab “medium,” the Saudi crude that is the closest substitute for the main Russian export blend, Urals, for which European refineries are configured.

Mr. Erdogan linked his NATO objection to alleged Finnish and Swedish support for the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), which has been designated a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States, and the EU.

The PKK has waged a decades-long insurgency in southeast Turkey in support of Kurds’ national, ethnic, and cultural rights. Kurds account for up to 20 per cent of the country’s 84 million population.

Turkey has recently pounded PKK positions in northern Iraq in a military operation named Operation Claw Lock

Turkey is at odds with the United States over American support for Syrian Kurds in the fight against the Islamic State. Turkey asserts that America’s Syrian Kurdish allies are aligned with the PKK.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu warned that Turkey opposes a US decision this week to exempt from sanctions against Syria regions controlled by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

“This is a selective and discriminatory move,” Mr. Cavusoglu said, noting that the exemption did not include Kurdish areas of Syria controlled by Turkey and its Syrian proxies.

Referring to the NATO membership applications, Mr. Erdogan charged that “Scandinavian countries are like some kind of guest house for terrorist organisations. They’re even in parliament.”

Mr. Erdogan’s objections relate primarily to Sweden, with Finland risking becoming collateral damage.

Sweden is home to a significant Kurdish community and hosts Europe’s top Kurdish soccer team that empathises with the PKK and Turkish Kurdish aspirations. In addition, six Swedish members of parliament are ethnic Kurds.

Turkey scholar Howard Eissenstat suggested that Turkey’s NATO objection may be a turning point. “Much of Turkey’s strategic flexibility has come from the fact that its priorities are seen as peripheral issues for its most important Western allies. Finnish and Swedish entry into NATO, in the current context, absolutely not peripheral,” Mr. Eissenstat tweeted.

The Turkish objection demonstrates the Middle East’s potential to derail US and European policy in other parts of the world.

Middle Eastern states walk a fine line when using their potential to disrupt to achieve political goals of their own. The cautious backtracking on Ukraine-related oil supplies demonstrates the limits and/or risks of Middle Eastern brinkmanship.

So does the fact that Ukraine has moved NATO’s center of gravity to northern Europe and away from its southern flank, which Turkey anchors.

Moreover, Turkey risks endangering significant improvements in its long-strained relations with the United States.

Turkish mediation in the Ukraine crisis and military support for Ukraine prompted US President Joe Biden to move ahead with plans to upgrade Turkey’s fleet of F-16 fighter planes and discuss selling it newer, advanced  F-16 models even though Turkey has neither condemned Russia nor imposed sanctions.

Some analysts suggest Turkey may use its objection to regain access to the United States’ F-35 fighter jet program. The US cancelled in 2019 a sale of the jet to Turkey after the NATO member acquired Russia’s S-400 anti-missile defence system.

Mr. Erdogan has “done this kind of tactic before. He will use it as leverage to get a good deal for Turkey,” said retired US Navy Admiral James Foggo, dean of the Center for Maritime Strategy.

A top aide to Mr. Erdogan, Ibrahim Kalin, appeared to confirm Mr. Foggo’s analysis.

“We are not closing the door. But we are basically raising this issue as a matter of national security for Turkey,” Mr. Kalin said, referring to the Turkish leader’s NATO remarks. “Of course, we want to have a discussion, a negotiation with Swedish counterparts.”

Spelling out Turkish demands, Mr. Kalin went on to say that “what needs to be done is clear: they have to stop allowing PKK outlets, activities, organisations, individuals and other types of presence to…exist in those countries.”

Mr. Erdogan’s brinkmanship may have its limits, but it illustrates that one ignores the Middle East at one’s peril.

However, engaging Middle Eastern autocrats does not necessarily mean ignoring their rampant violations of human rights and repression of freedoms.

For the United States and Europe, the trick will be developing a policy that balances accommodating autocrats’, at times, disruptive demands, often aimed at ensuring regime survival, with the need to remain loyal to democratic values amid a struggle over whose values will underwrite a 21st-century world order.

However, that would require a degree of creative policymaking and diplomacy that seems to be a rare commodity.

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Health Silk Route: China and the Middle East

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While China’s economic interests in the Middle East are well-known, China’s intrinsic involvement in the Middle East for increased political and cultural influence is a nascent development. For example, in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, China has attempted to increase its footprint in the Middle East through its new ‘Health Silk Route’ (HSR) project which should be viewed as an extension of the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) in the Middle East. Through the new HSR project, China is trying to gain diplomatic bandwidth in the Middle East by spreading its soft power influence in the region.

China  has traditionally maintained a cautious approach in foreign policy towards the Middle East to ensure that its energy needs are consistently fulfilled by Middle Eastern states like Iran and Saudi Arabia. Simultaneously, it has opted for a strong economic relationship with most Middle Eastern states (Dorsey, 2017) as China views the Middle East as a lucrative market for its goods. (Shambaugh, 2014: 87) However, this non-interventionist approach of China towards the Middle East is now on its way out as a ‘rising China’ is approaching the Middle East with new found vigour with the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) making a mark across the region.

China views the Middle East as a region that can aid its ‘peaceful rise’ as China attempts to ‘strive for achievement’ (fenfayouwei) and achieve great power status in keeping with the principles of Tienxia (All Under Heavens) (French, 2017) after ‘keeping a low profile’ (taoguangyanghui) for years. (Xuetong, 2014) This new found Chinese interest in the Middle East is in keeping with the tenets of Chinese conception of ‘Moral Realism’, President Xi Jinping’s ‘China Dream’ project and his clarion call for national rejuvenation and declining American presence in the region. (Xuetong, 2014)

While the region was initially viewed as ‘politically inaccessible’ by Chinese diplomats (Fuhr, 2021) due to the region being ‘America’s strategic headlight’, the region has become important for China today. In fact, China has come out with its ‘Arab Policy Paper’ that documented China’s approach towards the Arab states where China endorsed a “win-win partnership” with all 22 Arab (Middle Eastern) states. This was the first such policy paper published by China in several years.  (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, PRC, 2021)

The Middle East is also an important region for growing Chinese investments. For example, in 2018, China invested $20 billion in infrastructure development alone and another $3 billion in loans for the banking sector in the region. These developments have brought China and the Middle East closer. (Elanggar, 2020)

COVID-19 & Mutual Reciprocity

The COVID-19 pandemic has further opened up the region for China. While China has opted for a more aggressive diplomatic line through the use of ‘wolf-warrior diplomacy’ in regions like Europe and the Americas, to defend itself amidst the raging COVID pandemic, the ‘Chinese Middle Eastern discourse during the pandemic has seen an outpouring of mutual support paired with deliveries of medical aid’ (Wilson Centre, 2020) In the early days of the pandemic, when the pandemic took its roots in Wuhan in the heart of China, Middle Eastern states like Kuwait sent medical equipment worth $3 billion to China. (Kuwait Today, 2020) Similarly, Saudi Arabia through the King Salman Humanitarian RelIef Fund (KSRelief) provided medical devices and protective suits and surgical masks to China. (Xinhua, 2020) For the Middle East, the pandemic transformed China from just a business partner to a scientific benefactor and collaborator. (Bodetti, 2021)

China reciprocated these gestures and offered medical assistance to Middle Eastern states firstly by offering medical supplies and extending lines of credit in the first phase and through the provisions of vaccines. It also suggested that these initiatives were taken to ‘advance global public health’ under the rubric of the HSR.  Firstly, China assisted Iran and Turkey by providing essential medical supplies like medical masks, test devices and Personal Protective Equipments (PPEs) (Xinhua, 2020: Singh & Gupta, 2020) China sent sterile and antiseptic masks and other medical equipments to states in the Maghreb like Algeria and Mauritania as well. (Chachiza, 2021) It also sent 50 boxes of medical supplies with surgical supplies nad masks to Oman. (Hoffman & Yelinek, 2020) However, the primary focus of China’s pandemic diplomacy was related to China’s provision of vaccines to the region. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) was the first country to approve the Sinopharm vaccine and stated that its efficacy stood at 86%. Once the prerequisite approvals were in place, Bahrain, Egypt and Morocco also agreed to use the China-manufactured vaccines. (El Kadi & Zinser, 2021)

Impact of Chinese Health Diplomacy on HSR

These healthcare initiatives have allowed the widening and deepening of ties between China and the Middle Eastern states. For China, the HSR is an opportunity to resurrect its image in the Post COVID-19 era, where China has been blamed for the onset of the pandemic. Through the HSR initiative, China wants to portray itself as ‘benevolent healthcare provider’ to increase its soft power. It wants to take the lead in ‘perfecting global public health governance’ across the world. (Lancaster, Ruben & Rap-Hooper, 2020)

As far as the Middle East is concerned, China wants to use the HSR to increase its soft power in the region. China has traditionally been viewed favourably by Middle Eastern states like Israel, Lebanon, Turkey and Tunisia (Silver, Devlin & Huang, 2019) and China wants to leverage these favourable ratings for its own benefit. While Chinese scholars have negated this line of argument and stated vociferously that the HSR is for “global public good” because the United States has abdicated global health leadership (Jiahan, 2021) It is certain that a diminishing U.S. presence in the Middle East will allow the rise of China in the region and initiatives like the HSR will aide this development.

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