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Amid tension in Arab world, Qatar signs $ 12 billion deal to buy F-15 jets from USA

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[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] F [/yt_dropcap]oreign policy of President Trump is slowly but steadily working to increase its arms sale to the world. The advantages of arms trade for USA without any expenditure on US part are great. Upon his visit to Saudi Arabia that resulted in tensions in the Arab world as Qatar is being targeted by other Arab nations, Trump has got a lump sum trade deal from Qatar to the tune of whopping $ 12 billion. It is a big deal as US regime attempts to navigate an ongoing diplomatic crisis in the Gulf.

On June 5, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain announced they were cutting diplomatic ties with Qatar for its support for “terrorism”. Along with severing diplomatic ties, the Riyadh-led blockade was imposed against Doha. Saudi, which shares the only land border with Qatar, shut the crossing and stopped goods being transported to its gas-rich neighbour. Saudi, UAE and Bahrain also closed their airspace to flights to and from Qatar, forcing airlines to remove Doha from their list of destinations.

Deal

President Trump’s first ever recent foreign tour in Middle East, where a fanatically arrogant Israel behaves like the regional superpower with US made illegal nukes plus high precision conventional terror goods, including cluster bombs that are being bought by third world counties across the globe, has cussed ripples among Arab nations, leading to the ouster of Qatar from the Gulf States club. This, as foreseen by Washington, has obviously isolated Qatar to search for alternative routes to secure its security.

Qatari Defense Minister Khalid Al-Attiyah and his US counterpart, Jim Mattis, completed the $12 billion agreement in Washington to buy F-15 fighter jets from the USA, according to the Pentagon. The aircraft purchase was completed by Qatari Minister of Defence Khalid Al Attiyah and his US counterpart Jim Mattis in Washington DC on June 14 Wednesday.

The weapon transfer comes just weeks after Trump signed a deal with Saudi Arabia for almost $110bn in US arms. It also comes amid a diplomatic row between a Saudi-led bloc of nations and Qatar. Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Bahrain and a number of other countries severed relations with Qatar earlier this month, accusing it of supporting armed groups and Iran – allegations Qatar has repeatedly rejected. Riyadh also closed its border with Qatar, the only land border the emirate has. In addition, the closure of Saudi, Bahraini, and Emirati airspace to Qatar-owned flights has caused major import and travel disruptions.

Huge Qatari deal for 36 F-15 jets from the USA is significant as the two countries navigate tensions over President Donald Trump’s backing for a Saudi-led coalition’s move to isolate the country for supporting terrorism.

The deal was completed despite the Gulf country being criticized recently by US President Donald Trump for supporting terrorism. US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and representatives from Qatar were all set to meet to seal the agreement for 36 jets. In November, the United States approved possible sale of up to 72 F-15QA aircraft to Qatar for $21.1 billion. Boeing Co is the prime contractor on the fighter jet sale to the Middle East nation. Boeing declined to comment. Trump on Friday accused Qatar of being a “high-level” sponsor of terrorism, potentially hindering the US Department of State’s efforts to ease heightening tensions and a blockade of the Gulf nation by Arab states and others. The sale will increase security cooperation and interoperability between the USA and Qatar, the Pentagon said.

The deal is “yet another step in advancing our strategic and cooperative defence relationship with the United States, and we look forward to continuing our joint military efforts with our partners here in the USA”, said Attiyah. The sale “will give Qatar a state-of-the-art capability and increase security cooperation and interoperability between the United States and Qatar”, the Defence Department said in a statement.

Last year, after the State Department approved the jet sale, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency issued a report saying that the proposed sale enhances the foreign policy and national security of the United State by helping to improve the security of a friendly country and strengthening our strategically important relationship. “Qatar is an important force for political stability and economic progress in the Persian Gulf region,” the agency said. Good for them and their defense in the long run. The current dispute between us should hopefully be temporary and end soon. The real enemy is and has always been the Persian Iranians on the other side.

American terror base

Qatar has long been accused of funneling money to the Muslim Brotherhood — which has officially forsworn violence but is still accused of terrorism by some countries — as well as to radical groups in Syria, Libya and other Arab nations. But it is also home to two major American command posts, including a $60 million center from which the United States and its allies conduct their air war on Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.

Qatar hosts the biggest US military base in the Middle East with US 11,000 troops and coalition service members deployed to or assigned to Al-Udeid Air Base in the desert outside the Qatari capital of Doha. More than 100 aircraft operate from there. The Al Udeid U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) military base in Qatar was set up in 2003 after it was moved from the Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia. The base, which boasts a long runway of 12,500 feet, is an important facility for the U.S. as it can accommodate up to 120 aircrafts. The base in Qatar serves as logistics, command and basing hubs for the U.S. CENTCOM area of operations, including Iraq and Afghanistan.

In another development, two US Navy vessels arrived in Doha for a joint exercise with Qatar’s fleet. The American boats arrived at Hamad Port south of Doha “to participate in a joint exercise with the Qatari Emiri Navy,” according to a Ministry of Defence statement posted on QNA. The crews of the two vessels were received by Qatari navy officers. It was unclear if the arrival of the two warships was planned before the Gulf rift or if it was a sign of support from the Pentagon.

Saudi led GCC wants USA to shift its airbase from Qatar. The US military lauded Qatar for its “enduring commitment to regional security” and said U.S. flights out of Al-Udeid airbase in Qatar were unaffected by the Gulf diplomatic crisis and also said that it has “no plans to change our posture in Qatar”..

Trump accused Qatar of being a “high-level” sponsor of terrorism, potentially hindering the US Department of State’s efforts to ease heightening tensions and a blockade of the Gulf nation by Arab states and others. Officials at White House said Trump was not trying to cause a rupture among Sunni Muslim nations in the Middle East. A US diplomat noted that Russia had much to gain from divisions among Iran’s rivals in the region, particularly if they made it more difficult for the United States to use Qatar as a major base. “For sure, this is an attempt at regime change”

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said Qatar needed to end its support for Hamas before ties with other Arab Gulf states could be restored. Hamas responded to the statements saying they “constitute a shock for our Palestinian people and the Arab and Islamic nations”, and that the remarks gave Israel an excuse “to carry out more violations against the Palestinian people”.

Gulf Arab states and Egypt have long resented Qatar’s support for Islamists, especially the Egyptian-based Muslim brotherhood, which they regard as a dangerous political enemy. The coordinated move, with the Maldives and Libya’s eastern-based government joining in later, created a dramatic rift among the Arab nations, many of which are in OPEC. Announcing the closure of transport ties with Qatar, the three Gulf States gave Qatari visitors and residents two weeks to leave. Qatar was also expelled from the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen.

Turkey’s presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın said on June 14 that the crisis surrounding Qatar is damaging for the Islamic world and Turkey is working to help resolve the issue through diplomacy. Speaking at a press conference, Kalın said Ankara was sending food assistance to Qatar after neighboring Gulf Arab states severed ties with Doha and imposed sanctions saying it supports terrorism and courts regional rival Iran. Kalın also said a Turkish military base in Qatar, set up before the regional spat, was established to ensure the security of the whole region and did not have an aim of any military action against any country.

Zionist poison

The current Qatar-Gulf crisis has offered Israel a golden opportunity to normalize its presence in the region, undermine the Palestinian cause and deliver a diplomatic blow to the Islamic Resistance movement, Hamas. Under the pretext of fighting “terrorism”, the anti-Hamas, anti-political Islam coalition seems to be emerging with the Saudi-led bloc and Israel at its heart. Israel’s rapid adoption of the Saudi position confirms that the two countries share Israel’s vision on regional developments and the Palestinian cause.

Israel, which has only signed peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan, stands to benefit most from the Qatar-Gulf crisis. The Gulf crisis “will serve to undermine Hamas and redraw regional policies in accordance with the Israeli visions as Israel seeks to normalize its relations with the Arab states while isolating the Palestinian question”. Following the crisis, Israeli officials’ repeated statements centered on fighting “terrorism” and hopes for “cooperation” with the Gulf States on security concerns. “There can be no doubt that this opens many opportunities for cooperation in the war against terror. The state of Israel is more than open to such cooperation. The ball is now in their court,” said Avigdor Lieberman, the Zionist illegal settlers’ leader and Israeli military minister, at the Israeli parliament on June 6.

Israel is in need of Qatar’s mediation to deal with some of the pricklier issues in the Hamas-administered Gaza Strip, such as funds for reconstruction. The Gaza Strip, a small enclave that is home to about two million residents, has been under an Israeli blockade for more than a decade. It has witnessed three Israeli assaults that have resulted in the destruction of essential infrastructure and the impoverishment of its residents. In the face of the Israeli siege and its occupation of Gaza, Qatar has been one of the biggest financial contributors to the strip’s reconstruction.

Israel is hoping to make political gains from the Gulf crisis and the blockade on Qatar by weakening Hamas and undermining its influence in the Gaza Strip, and demonizing it in the Arab world under the pretext of “terrorism”. The Saudi attack on Hamas and its portrayal of the movement as a “terrorist organisation” serves the Israeli agenda and is consistent with Israel’s goal to eliminate the Palestinian cause.

The purpose behind Israel isolating Qatar was to pressure it to withdraw its support for Hamas and to pressure it to fall back in line with Saudi policies, or what Israel describes as the “moderate” Arab camp.

Playing on regional rifts in the Arab world, with the divide between the Gulf States and Iran, Israeli officials and analysts often speak of an unofficial “moderate axis” of Arab countries that are purportedly working behind the scenes with the Israeli government.  In this “alliance”, Western-backed countries including Egypt, Saudi Arabia and several of the Gulf states, as well as Jordan and Morocco, are said to be pitted against their “common enemies” such as Syria, Iran, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS), Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, etc.

These are longstanding tensions that have been bubbling under the surface but with the reported comment from Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani last week where he was alleged to have said positive things about Iran and negative things about other states was seen as an opportunity for the other powerful Gulf states like Saudi Arabia and the Emirates to actually clamp down on Qatar.

Notorious credit

The US stance amid the Gulf’s diplomatic rift was thrown into further confusion when Tillerson called on Saudi Arabia to ease the blockade on Qatar. The US’ top diplomat has since attempted to mediate between the two sides, and on Tuesday the State Department said efforts to resolve the crisis were “trending in a positive direction”.

Meanwhile, President Trump thrust himself into a bitter Persian Gulf dispute, taking credit for Saudi Arabia’s move to isolate its smaller neighbor, Qatar, and rattling his national security staff by upending a critical American strategic relationship. In a series of tweets, Trump said his call for an end to the financing of radical groups had prompted Saudi Arabia and four other countries to act this week against Qatar, a tiny, energy-rich emirate that is arguably America’s most important military outpost in the Middle East. “During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology,” he said, pointing to Qatar — look!” The president also appeared to be trying to ease tensions. In a call with King Salman of Saudi Arabia, Trump said that unity among gulf nations was “critical to defeating terrorism and promoting regional stability,” according to a White House statement.

Trump during his visit focused his attention on Saudi Arabia and the UAE perhaps ignoring Qatar suggesting Trump’s policies are directed towards the two countries at the expense of Qatar and other weaker states in the region. But the current standoff between GCC nations and Qatar has put the U.S. in a tough spot for a number of reasons. US Defense Secretary James Mattis and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson offered US support in brokering a solution between the feuding nations.

The Pentagon military has been eager to avoid political quarrels with the Qataris, a goal reflected in statements by its spokesmen. “The United States and the coalition are grateful to the Qataris for their longstanding support of our presence and their enduring commitment to regional security”. An American diplomat in Doha said that Qatar’s relationship with the United States was “strong” and that it had made strides: prosecuting people suspected of funding terrorist groups, freezing assets and putting stringent controls on its banks.

Tension and confusion

Thanks to US interference and Israeli mishcief, Arab world is not undergoing a phase of continued tension and unavoidable confusion.

Everyone wants USA on their side and hence the Qatari deals with it in a hurry as Qatar knows only arms deals and pumping of money into USA can make USA be in good humors.

Saudi Arabia is just doing the monkey’s job of doing exactly what is told by the Super power. Saudi Arabia might feel elated that it has done a great favor to the new US President so that he would ask the NATO to attack Iran, thereby appeasing the Saudis.

Everybody and every nation are free to day dream. Riyadh also can do that but cannot expect the USA to listen to it just like American leaders obey Israel with which it conducts secret destabilizing operations globally, especially in West Asia. Here the winner is obviously the USA-Israel fascist twins- and not Saudi Arabia that managed the Arab show as the leader of Sunni world by gathering all other Arab nations to slam and boycott Qatar.

Perhaps, Arab world is destined to become and stay destabilized. There could be widespread instability in the region if the situation between Riyadh and Doha deteriorates further. Meanwhile, Israel also fears that if the Gaza crisis escalates, causing major splits and disputes within the Hamas movement, which could lead to an armed confrontation between the movement and Israel. But if the Saudi and Egyptian pressure leads Qatar to stop supporting Hamas, this could worsen the economic distress in Gaza as well as the military tension with Israel.

Religion is an important factor but this is a political struggle between the Saudis and the Iranians and of course the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt all fall in line with this. Arab leaders think exactly as US leaders want.

The danger in besieging Qatar lies in the potential adoption of a new tone governing diplomacy between Arab countries, which could have negative repercussions on the Palestinian cause.

Arab nations with their own foolishness have time and again proven that they are indeed the root cause of Hamas-Fatah inner fight and confrontation that directly helps Israel and USA.

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Middle East

Israel and Turkey in search of solutions

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Twelve and eleven years have elapsed since the Davos and Mavi Marmara incidents, respectively, and Turkey-Israel relations are undergoing intense recovery efforts. They are two important Eastern neighbours and influence regional stability.

Currently, as in the past, relations between the two countries have a structure based on realpolitik, thus pursuing a relationship of balance/interest, and hinge around the Palestinian issue and Israel’s position as the White House’s privileged counterpart. However, let us now briefly summarise the history of Turkish-Jewish relations.

The first important event that comes to mind when mentioning Jews and Turks is that when over 200,000 Jews were expelled by the Spanish Inquisition in 1491, the Ottoman Empire invited them to settle in its territory.

Turkey was the first Muslim country to recognise Israel in 1949. Israel’s first diplomatic Mission to Turkey was opened on January 7, 1950 but, following the Suez crisis in 1956, relations were reduced to the level of chargé d’affaires. In the second Arab-Israeli war of 1967, Turkey chose not to get involved and it did not allow relations to break off completely.

The 1990s saw a positive trend and development in terms of bilateral relations. After the second Gulf War in 1991 -which, as you may recall, followed the first Iraqi one of 1980-1988 in which the whole world was against Iran (with the only exception of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Syria, Libya and the moral support of Enver Hoxha’s Albania) – Turkey was at the centre of security policy in the region. In that context, Turkey-Israel relations were seriously rekindled.

In 1993, Turkey upgraded diplomatic relations with Israel to ambassadorial level. The signing of the Oslo Accords between Palestine and Israel led to closer relations. The 1996 military cooperation agreement was signed between the two countries in the fight against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Turkey, which provided significant logistical and intelligence support to both sides.

In the 2000s, there was a further rapprochement with Israel, due to the “zero problems with neighbours” policy promoted by Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party. I still remember issue No. 3/1999 of the Italian review of geopolitics “Limes” entitled “Turkey-Israel, the New Alliance”.

In 2002, an Israeli company undertook the project of modernising twelve M-60 tanks belonging to the Turkish armed forces. In 2004, Turkey agreed to sell water to Israel from the Manavgat River.

Prime Minister Erdoğan’s visit to Israel in 2005 was a turning point in terms of mediation between Palestine and Israel and further advancement of bilateral relations. In 2007, Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas spoke at the Turkish Grand National Assembly one day apart. High-level visits from Israel continued.

On December 22, 2008, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert came to Ankara and met with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. In that meeting, significant progress was made regarding Turkey’s mediation between Israel and Syria.

Apart from the aforementioned incidents, the deterioration of Turkish-Israeli relations occurred five days after the above stated meeting, i.e. Operation “Cast Lead” against Gaza on December 27, 2008. After that event, relations between the two sides were never the same as before.

Recently, however, statements of goodwill have been made by both countries to normalise political relations. In December 2020, President Erdoğan stated he wanted to improve relations with Israel and said: “It is not possible for us to accept Israel’s attitude towards the Palestinian territories. This is the point in which we differ from Israel – otherwise, our heart desires to improve our relations with it as well”.

In its relations with Israel, Turkey is posing the Palestinian issue as a condition. When we look at it from the opposite perspective, the Palestinian issue is a vital matter for Israel. It is therefore a severe obstacle to bilateral relations.

On the other hand, many regional issues such as Eastern Mediterranean, Syria and some security issues in the region require the cooperation of these two key countries. For this reason, it is clear that both sides wish at least to end the crisis, reduce rhetoric at leadership level and focus on cooperation and realpolitik areas.

In the coming months, efforts will certainly be made to strike a balance between these intentions and the conditions that make it necessary to restart bilateral relations with Israel on an equal footing. As improved relations with Israel will also positively influence Turkey’s relations with the United States.

Turkey seeks to avoid the USA and the EU imposing sanctions that could go so far as to increase anti-Western neo-Ottoman rhetoric, while improved relations with Israel could offer a positive outcome not only to avoid the aforementioned damage, but also to solve the Turkish issues related to Eastern Mediterranean, territorial waters, Libya and Syria. Turkey has no intention of backing down on such issues that it deems vital. Quite the reverse. It would like to convey positive messages at the level of talks and Summits.

Another important matter of friction between Turkey and Israel is the use of oil and gas in the Eastern Mediterranean reserves between Egypt, Israel, Greece and Cyprus (Nicosia).

This approach is excluding Turkey. The USA and the EU also strongly support the current situation (which we addressed in a previous article) for the additional reason that France has been included in the equation.

The alignment of forces and fronts in these maritime areas were also widely seen during the civil war in Libya, where Turkey, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, France, as well as other players such as Russia, Italy, etc. came into the picture.

Ultimately, a point of contact between Turkey and Israel is the mediation role that the former could play in relations between Iran and Israel, especially after the improvement of Turkish-Iranian relations.

Indeed, in the aftermath of the U.S. airstrike in Baghdad – which killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani on January 3, 2020 -the Turkish Foreign Minister stated that the U.S. action would increase insecurity and instability in the region. He also reported that Turkey was worried about rising tensions between the United States and Iran that could turn Iraq back into an area of conflict to the detriment of peace and stability in the region. There was also a condolence phone call from President Erdoğan to Iranian President Rouhani, urging him to avoid a conflictual escalation with the United States following the airstrike.

Consequently, it is in the Turkish President’s interest to maintain an open channel with Iran, so that he himself can soften the mutual tensions between Israel and Iran, and – in turn – Israeli diplomacy can influence President Biden’s choices, albeit less pro-Israel than Donald Trump’s.

Turkey is known to have many relationship problems with the United States – especially after the attempted coup of July 15-16, 2016 and including the aforementioned oil issue – and realises that only Israel can resolve the situation smoothly.

In fact, Israel-USA relations are not at their best as they were under President Trump. President Erdoğan seems to be unaware of this fact, but indeed the Turkish President knows that the only voice the White House can hear is Israel’s, and certainly not the voice of the Gulf monarchies, currently at odds with Turkey.

Israel keeps a low profile on the statements made by President Erdoğan with regard to the Palestinians- since it believes them to be consequential – as well as in relation to a series of clearly anti-Zionist attitudes of the Turkish people.

We are certain, however, that President Erdoğan’s declarations of openness and Israeli acquiescence will surely yield concrete results.

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Middle East

The 25-year China-Iran agreement

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On March 27, 2021, a document entitled “Comprehensive Document of Iran-China Cooperation” was signed by Javad Zarif, Iran’s Foreign Minister, and his Chinese counterpart. The Iranian regime’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had previously called “the agreement between the presidents of Iran and China correct and wise.” However, the Iranian people have widely criticized it as entirely against their national interests. Iranian officials have not even publicized the document’s contents yet probably because it is highly contentious.

In 2019, excerpts from this document were revealed by the Economist Petroleum news site. The details included:

  • China invests $460 billion in Iranian oil and transportation sectors. China will get its investment back from the sale of Iranian crude during the first five years.
  • China buys Iranian petroleum products at least 32% cheaper.
  • The Chinese can decide before other companies whether to participate in completing all or part of a petrochemical project.
  • 50,000 Chinese security personnel will be deployed to protect Chinese projects in Iran.
  • China has the right to delay the repayment of its debts for up to two years in exchange for Iranian products’ purchase.
  • At least one Russian company will be allowed to participate in the Tabriz-Ankara gas pipeline design together with the Chinese operator.
  • Every year, 110 senior Revolutionary Guards officers travel to China and Russia for military training. 110 Chinese and Russian advisers will be stationed in Iran to train Revolutionary Guards officers.
  • Development of Iranian military equipment and facilities will be outsourced to China, and Chinese and Russian military aircraft and ships will operate the developed facilities.

Even some circles within the regime have criticized the agreement. The state-run Arman newspaper wrote, “China has a 25-year contract with Iran and is investing $460 billion in Iran. It is somewhat ambiguous. Presently, China is holding the money it owes us and blames it on the U.S. sanctions. How can we trust this country to invest $460 billion in Iran?”

Last year, Iran and China had the lowest trade in the previous 16 years, and according to statistics, by the end of 2020, the volume of trade between Iran and China was about $16 billion, which, including undocumented oil sales, still does not reach $20 billion.

Jalal Mirzaei, a former member of Iran’s parliament, said: “If in the future the tensions between Tehran and Washington are moderated, and we see the lifting of some of the sanctions, China can also provide the basis for implementing the provisions of this document, but if the situation continues like today, Beijing will not make any effort to implement the document, as it is essentially unable to take concrete action on the ground because of the sanctions.”

China’s objectives

Iran is vital to China in two ways, through its geopolitical location and its geo-economic importance. China knows that it does not have enough natural resources and is currently having a hard time supplying them from Russia and Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia supplies its energy needs from oil giant Aramco, half of which is owned by the United States. That is why China is looking for a safe alternative that the United States will not influence, and the only option is Iran. They may also have a two-pronged plan in Iran, which involves using Iran’s profitable market and making Iran into a lever of pressure against the United States for additional concessions.

The Iranian regime’s objectives

The deal could deepen China’s influence in the Middle East and undermine U.S. efforts to isolate the Iranian regime. While the international dispute over the Iranian regime’s nuclear program has not been resolved, it is unclear how much this agreement could be implemented. The regime intends to make it a bargaining chip in possible future nuclear negotiations. However, some of Iran’s top authorities believe that China and Russia cannot be trusted 100 percent.

Due to the sanctions, the regime has a tough time to continue providing financial support to its proxy militias in the region. The regime also faced two major domestic uprisings in 2017 and 2019. Khamenei’s regime survived the widespread uprisings by committing a massacre, killing 1,500 young protesters in the 2019 uprising alone, according to the Iranian opposition, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and later confirmed by the Iranian regime’s Interior Ministry officials. Now with the coronavirus pandemic, Khamenei has been able to delay another major uprising.

Iran’s economy is on the verge of collapse. Khamenei must bow to western countries’ demands regarding the nuclear issue, including an end to its regional interventions and its ballistic missile program. Khamenei will struggle to save his regime from s imminent uprisings and a deteriorating economy that will undoubtedly facilitate more protests by the army of the unemployed and the hungry at any moment.

Unlike the 2015 JCPOA, the Iranian regime in 2021 is in a much weaker position. In fact, by many accounts, it is the weakest in its 40-year history. By signing the recent Iran-China agreement and auctioning Iranian resources, Khamenei wants to pressure the United States to surrender and restore the 2015 JCPOA as quickly as possible. But in the end, this pivot will not counteract domestic pressures that target the regime’s very existence.

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Middle East

China-Arab Relations: From Silk to Friendship

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China and the Arabs have a long and rich economic and cultural history, and this distinguished relationship still exists today, with a promising future. This bilateral relationship between the two nations is based on the principles of respect and non-interference in internal affairs or foreign policies. Therefore, China’s relationship with the Arabs as well as with other nations is unique and a model to be followed. If you meet a Chinese person, the first phrase will be “Alabo” or an Arab in Mandarin, and he/she will welcome you. The Chinese state’s dealings with its counterparts can be measured based on the model of this Chinese citizen. China deals with the Arabs on the basis of friendship and historical ties.

The history of Sino-Arab relations goes back to the Tang Dynasty, and these relations developed with the flourishing of trade between the two nations. Since China was famous for its high quality silk, this trade route was called the “Silk Road”. Baron Ferdinand Freiherr von Richthofen, better known in English as Baron von Richthofen, was a German traveller, geographer, and scientist. He is noted for coining the terms “Seidenstraße” and “Seidenstraßen” = “Silk Road” or “Silk Route” in 1877.

Chinese-Arab relations have developed in contemporary history. In 1930, China established official relations with the Arab Republic of Egypt and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. A library in China was named the “Fouad Islamic Library”, after the late Egyptian king, “Fuad the First”. In 1956, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser cut ties with China and established relations with the Communist People’s Republic of China and inaugurated an embassy in Egypt. In the same year, the Arab League established relations with the People’s Republic of China. By the year 1990, all Arab countries cut their relations with the Republic of China and established diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China.

In 2004, the China-Arab Cooperation Forum was established, and today it is considered a milestone for the Sino-Arab relationship. At its inauguration, Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing delivered a speech stating:“The Arab world is an important force on the international scene, and that China and the Arab countries have enjoyed a long friendship. Our similar history, our common goals and our broad interests have been credited with enhancing cooperation between the two sides; no matter how the international situation changes, China has always been the sincere friend of the Arab world”. The China-Arab Cooperation Forum was officially established during the visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao to the headquarters of the League of Arab States in January of 2004.

Hu Jintao indicated at that time that the formation of the forum is a continuation of the traditional friendship between China and the Arab world. The Chinese president said at the time, “The establishment of the forum is conducive to expanding mutual cooperation in a variety of fields. He added that China had made four proposals; First, maintaining mutual respect, fair treatment and sincere cooperation at the political level. Second, strengthening economic and trade relations through cooperation in the fields of investment and trade, contracted projects, labor services, energy, transportation, communications, agriculture, environmental protection and information. Third, expand cultural exchanges. Finally, conducting training for the employees.”

During the second session of the forum in Beijing in 2006, China showed its sympathy for the issues of the Arab world and its interest in the peace process between Palestine and Israel, since China is a peace-loving country; it presented the idea of “a nuclear-free Middle East”. China is the best friend of the Arab countries today. Although some Arab countries have strong relations with the West whose policy does not match the Chinese policy, but all Arab countries agree on friendly and good relations with the People’s Republic of China.

The Arab citizen is not interested today in the foreign policy of the US, the deadly weapons of the US and Russia, or European culture, but rather the livelihood and economy, and this is what China provides through its wise economic policy. In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping launched the Belt and Road Initiative, or New Silk Road, which will restore glow to China-Arab relations; as the Arab world is in a strategic location on the initiative map. Thus, the Arab countries are an important partner for China in the initiative. Although the volume of trade exchanges between China and the Arab countries exceeded 200 billion US dollars, which increased 10 times over the past decade, there was no commercial and institutional arrangement to facilitate trade between the two sides.

China, as a peaceful and non-invasive country, aims to promote economic cooperation with Arab region on an equal basis because it considers the Arab world a historic partner. The historical experience of the Arabs with the Chinese through the Silk Road has confirmed that China differs from the nations of colonialism and imperialism, which consider the Arab region a place rich in natural resources only. In his historic speech at the Arab League, Chinese President Xi stressed that China will not seek to extend influence and search for proxies in the Middle East. The Chinese initiatives will contribute to establishing security and stability through economic development and improving the people’s livelihood, in line with the post-2015 development agenda and the aspirations of the Arab people for a better life, as the Chinese experience proves that development is the key to digging out the roots of conflicts and extremism in all its forms.

China is a neutral country and does not favor the use of violence. During the Syrian crisis, for example, the Chinese envoy to the Security Council raised his hand three times, meaning that China, with its wise diplomacy, supported the Syrian regime without entering the military war. During the recent Chinese military parade, Chinese President Xi Jinping revealed some Chinese military capabilities and thus sent a message to the enemies that China will always be ready if a war is imposed on it, and a message of support to China’s allies. The Arab region today needs a real partner who possesses economic and military power and international political influence, such as China; to ensure the success of the Belt and Road Initiative, and to consolidate the China-Arab relations and raise it to the level of a strategic alliance.

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