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Riots in Iran

Giancarlo Elia Valori

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Protests against the petrol price rise and rationing in Iran began on November 15 in Ahvaz, when the Iranian government announced the fuel price increase up to 300%.

 They quickly spread to major Iranian cities.

 Before the enactment of this new rule, car owners could buy up to 250 litres of petrol per month, at the subsidized price of 15,000 rial per liter, for the first sixty ones, and then at the price of 30,000 rial per litre for the additional ones.

It should be noted that currently the rial is worth0.000027 euros approximately.

The riots – strangely similar to those that gave rise to the phenomenon of the gilets jaunes in France-have erupted because the rule just approved grants a subsidized price of 15,000 rials per litre only for the first 60 litres, but obliges to pay the new price of 30,000 rials per litre after this limit.

This is unsustainable for ordinary Iranian citizens, who are forced to use cars more frequently than anyone living in Western countries’ suburbs.

Hence a 300% price rise, albeit hidden, considering that all Iranians who own a car need much more than 60 litres per month.

 The riots, which also caused some victims, initially broke out in Sirjan, but later the protests spread to Mashhad, the second largest city in Iran, and to Qods, a suburb of the capital city. They were massive and the reaction of the police, of the Armed Forces and the Basiji was not long in coming.

For Iranian consumers the issue of oil rationing is part of the strategic triangulation between Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United States for the geopolitical management of this commodity.

 In September 2019, in fact, there were attacks with drones, probably launched from Iraq or, also, from Yemen – in the hands of the Houthi rebels, linked to Iran – which hit some Saudi wells.

There was unanimous condemnation of the attacks in the West, but there is another issue to consider. Currently, in the Arab and Islamic world, additional extraction areas are conquered. All OPEC countries do so, thus destabilizing oil producing countries and joining them to their extraction and price system.

Indeed, the right to plunder is established in the Qur’an. “The Spoils of War” is the title of the Surah 8 of Medina’s Qur’an, which establishes (verse 8) that “the decision concerning the spoils of war is for Allah and His Messenger”.

 The Prophet, however, was entitled to a fifth (khums) of any war booty, at least since the battle of Badr (642 A.D.,the Second Year of the Hijra).

As said in verse 8:41, however, the Prophet Muhammad was entitled to one fifth of all public finances of the Islamic tribe, while all the rest was to be equally distributed among the members of the war expedition.

This is one of the foundations of the specific “Arab socialism”.

 The Prophet was also granted a further part of the booty, as a member of the war expedition.

 We are talking about cultures in which war is inherent in political action and in the economy – unlike what happens in the West, which has removed the military clash from its horizon, at its own risk. We are not referring here only to jihad.

 In the case of spoils resulting from an agreement and not from a victory on the ground, the Prophet claimed for himself the entire booty, and the traditional comments on Surah8agree on stating that “all that the earth contains has been attributed by Allah to his faction”.

 Hence the productive areas left alone by the West or subject to possible ethnic, religious or political destabilization are Al Anfal, namely booty, and the Muslims share it among themselves, according to the complex Qur’anic rules concerning war and the sharing of its spoils, many of which are found in the Caliphate tradition common to both Shiites and Sunnis.

Nevertheless, the attacks launched on the Saudi wells last September 14, 2019 – with drones, because the war is to be waged with the updated techniques and technology that Allah has provided –  caused the temporary suspension from the market of as many as 5.7 million oil barrels a day, about half of the Saudi standard production.

 From the viewpoint of the old liberal theory of competition, however, Saudi Arabia has been greatly favoured by the sanctions which, since the beginning of the Shiite revolution in 1979, have thrown Iranian oil production into crisis.

 A severe distortion of the oil market that Iran tries to oppose with direct but, above all, indirect war methods – to which Saudi Arabia responds blow by blow.

In 1995, the year in which US President Carter strengthened the sanction regime, which had begun in 1979, after the revolutionary students’ assault  on the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, the system of sanctions implied, inter alia, the prohibition to support the Import-Export Bank for transactions with Iran; the refusal to grant any commercial license to companies that broke any trade restriction rulesvis-à-vis Iran; the ban on any loan exceeding 10 million US dollars during the year, obviously by U.S. financial institutions; the prohibition of becoming an agent for bank or debt securities issued by the U.S. government in Iran; finally a ban on all the specific goods or services included in the special list of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

 In 1997, President Clinton relaxed the sanctions against Iran as a result of the election of Khatami as President of Iran, who was considered a “reformist” by the naive Western press and, above all, a political opponent of Ahmadinedjad, the future Iranian President.

 The same man who, as a university student, had warned his colleagues who were about to attack the US diplomatic offices by saying: “We must not only show hatred towards America, but also towards the atheist and materialistic Soviet Union”.

 The sanctions imposed again by the United States on Iran – with a deliberate choice by President Trump, after the US unilateral withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) of July 14, 2015, namely the P5+1 agreement to limit the enrichment of Iranian uranium – concern about 80% of Iran’s current oil exports.

 After the choice made by President Trump, France offered 15 billion US dollars, if Iran adhered again to the full formulation of the JCPOA prior to the U.S. withdrawal from the Treaty, certainly to favour Iran’s economic recovery, but certainly also to avoid the probable U.S. block.

Moreover, since President Trump has denounced the P5+1 Agreement, Iran’s official sources have stated that the minimum oil exports that Iran wants to maintain are 700,000 barrels a day, so as to later reach 1.5 million barrels a day, should the West still want to renegotiate the entire agreement of July 14, 2015.

 This is the reason underlying the restriction on consumption for Iranian citizens: that oil is needed to be sold and not to be distributed to Iranians at a subsidized price.

 It is said that the savings resulting from this new restrictive rule on oil consumption will benefit the poor people, but now all Iranians are becoming poor.

 Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia reached 12 million oil barrels a day in 2018, well over the six million that Iran exported in its pre-revolutionary phase.

The oil market is a “seller’s market”, as we used to say when we were still studying economics in universities.

Hence, after decades of commercial impositions and Western embargoes, all the Iranian oil industries – now devoid of any technological transfer and adequate investment – have seen their production levels plunge.

 It was precisely Iran that in 1974, under the Shah’s rule, brought the OPEC price to 11.58 US dollars per barrel, equal to the current 53 US dollars.

 It should also be recalled that in 1973, immediately after the Yom KippurWar, the Iranian Shah supported Israel and hence did not participate in the embargo of the OPEC Arab oil producing countries.

 Then Iran became the fourth largest oil producer in the world, after the USSR, the USA and Saudi Arabia, with a daily level of 5.7 million barrels a day. This happened in 1977, but that level was never reached again later.

Since August 2014, however, the oil barrel extraction price has systematically fallen to the current 30%.

 According to the latest data available, the oil barrel production cost sees Great Britain ranking first, followed by Brazil and Nigeria while, coincidentally, Iran and Saudi Arabia are competing for being the cheapest oil producing country, at least as far as extraction is concerned.

Some specialized analyses, however, suggest that Iran’s extraction cost is even considerably lower than the cost currently borne by Saudi Arabia.

This is an important factor of trade war between the two countries.

Neither Iran nor Saudi Arabia charge taxes on extraction, unlike the Russian Federation, currently the most taxed country among producers. The last one is Venezuela, which, apart from the current political disasters, has a very high tax burden for extraction alone.

Let us revert, however, to the economic-strategic duel between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Currently the price of Iranian oil is below the price of Saudi Arabia and of other regional competitors.

 The fact that now determines Iran’s real choices is the declared IPO of Saudi Aramco, the great Saudi oil company, a deal which is worth 1.5 trillion US dollars.

 The Saudi government plans to initially sell a small amount of shares on the Stock Exchange of the Saudi capital, before assigning at least over 5% of the company.

At the beginning of the Saudi oil company’s privatization, Prince Mohammed bin Salman hoped for a higher final value, i.e. an official pricing totalling at least 2 trillion US dollars, but it has not gone so well so far.

 Saudi Aramco’s annual net profit is about 100 billion and, at the time of the IPO, the Saudi company promised to pay annual dividends of at least 75 billion.

Later the company began a series of works for infrastructure and renewables and, above all, to redress the Saudi public debt, which has been recording a deficit since 2014.

In fact, despite Saudi Aramco’s considerable liquidity, the company took out a loan of 12 billion US dollars, all collected with long-term securities.

 Shell, however, now pays a yearly 6% of its investment value as a dividend. Hence, if Saudi Aramco were really attractive on the market, the IPO total value should fall to 125 trillion US dollars.

Furthermore, the bonds already issued by the Saudi company, are now worth 4% only. Considering that bonds tend to be worth less than the foreseen growth of equity capital, this means that the Saudi oil growth rate gets lower than that of other competing sectors. Hence, inevitably, international investors tend to see oil as a declining sector.

 If we were around the corridors of MOIS, the Iranian intelligence services, and around the intelligence offices of the Revolutionary Guard Corps, we would surely listen to considerations, ideas and proposals on the possibility of making the privatization of Saudi Aramco difficult and even a failure.

Nobody knows the exact amount of the Saudi oil reserves. This is a State secret.

Moreover, all oil companies – but this holds true also for Iran – are faced with issues triggered by climate change and the worldwide fall in demand for oil and gas.

Hence, either we proceed to theirquick replacement with far less polluting oil products – and this is the reason underlying Qatar’s new strategic autonomy – or all oil investments tend to become stranded assets.

  Therefore, in this case, the world’s investors do not place their capital in this sector, but focus on financial and productive areas with higher returns.

Also the Sovereign Fund of Norway, the largest sovereign fund in the world, is currently “decarbonizing” all its investment.

To some extent because it is fashionable and for taking a politically correct approach in the energy field, much more for a rational investment choice.

Hence, as was the case with cigarettes and tobacco products-in which the international capital is no longer interested – will the same soon happen also to oil and gas?

Therefore, if capital flight from the oil sector really takes place, while the United States is fully self-sufficient, Saudi Aramco shall separately sell other shareholdings of its oil company, even if only to fund its public budget deficit and the transformation of its domestic economy into a non-oil dependent system.

Just to put in the words of its oil Minister, Zanganeh, in Iran, however, the long embargo has turned many wells into “operational museums”.

The strategic issue, however, concerns above all the United States: in 2018, for example, in the midst of the shale oil expansion, the United States became the largest oil producing country in the world, with an average level of extraction to the tune of 15 million barrels a day.

As early as the Kippur War, following Henry Kissinger’ personal mediation, the Arab oil of the first real great post-war boom in prices was traded only in U.S. dollars, with the creation of preferential and confidential channels for investment defined in an agreement between Kissinger himself and King Fahd of Saudi Arabia.

Obviously this has greatly expanded the global demand for U.S. dollars, which has enabled it to best manage its huge trade deficit while maintaining its very low rates.

 Even today, as one of the FED Governors told his colleagues of the European Central Banks, “the dollar is our currency, but your problem”.

 The United States controls all the world’s oil flows by tracking all bank transfers.

Moreover, it still maintains its military bases in 13 Gulf and Middle East countries.

This is the essential point that explains the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

 Outside the US technological and financial cycle, Iran can only play what political scientists and economists call the free rider role.

 In contemporary political theory, the free rider is the whoever, within a group, avoids providing his contribution to the common good, because he/she believes that the group can work equally well despite his/her non-involvement.

 Free riding is literally the behaviour of those who get on the bus without paying the ticket.

 In economics, free riding is a process of underproduction or over-consumption of goods.

Currently we are basically in a situation of oil underproduction, decided by the OPEC price cartel, and also resulting from under-consumption, due to the structural decrease in oil consumption in the West, considering the great transition to renewables and the economic crisis of oil buyers.

 The goods that are usually subject to free riding are those that cannot avoid not excluding non-payers.

 The oil market cannot penalise bad payers, but the point is that it cannot even sanction those who change seller.

 If anything, the punishment is geopolitical and military.

 As Alfred O. Hirschman maintains, the free rider problem typically arises – in a cyclical way – in capitalist economies, just when a producer does not consider external costs: certainly the environmental cost in the oil and gas market, but above all the political or strategic cost connected to the goods purchased.

 This is why Shiites and Sunnis are harming each other.

 This is exactly the current condition of the relationship between Saudi Arabia and Iran, even in Pareto’s terms or of game theory.

 In the phase of Arab Springs, initially organized by the United States, Saudi Arabia – although being a U.S. stable ally throughout the Middle East – strongly opposed the operations for “spreading  democracy” staged by the United States.

 Certainly Saudi Arabia helped the Egyptian Salafists after Hosni Mubarak’s fall and later the Sunnis of various jihadist or fundamentalist origin against Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Later Saudi Arabia backed almost entirely Al Khalifa’s regime in Bahrain, where the ruling class is Sunni and the great majority of the population is Shiite.

With its Islamic Awakening project, Iran instead supported and funded some strands of the “democratic” rebellion in the Middle East and the Maghreb region, above all in Egypt and Libya (Ansar al Sharia, for example, and other groups opposing General Haftar).

Hence Saudi Arabia believes that Iran has excessively expanded its area of influence throughout the Arab world, also with the Iranian support to the Palestinian groups on the Israeli border, especially after the 2006 “August war” of Hezbollah. Later there was Iran’s commitment in favour of the Yemeni Houthi and also of the rebellious Shiite crowds in Bahrain. All those operations were seen by the Al-Saud dynasty as an illicit attempt at hegemony over the entire Arab, Shiite and Sunni world.

With a view to making more oil without extracting it or being embargoed.

  Not to mention the operations of continuous destabilization that Iran pursues in the central areas of Saudi Arabia itself.These are areas that host a large Shiite minority, mainly in the provinces with the greatest level of oil extraction.

Hence if Bahrain collapses, Saudi Arabia will interpret this destabilization as the end of the cold peace between the Iran-led “Islamic Awakening” and its area of influence, not only the Shiite one.

Clumsy as usual, however, with the sanctions against Iran or through the USA, the Westerners artificially favoured Iran’s free riding.

Nevertheless, the United States has at least a real strategic interest in the region, followed, however, by the spineless EU, which anyway counts for nothing, also internally.

  All this has given Iran the possibility of making a strategy of free riding and generalized insurgency in the Persian Gulf useful.

If, however, the two competitors avoid trying to win the whole stake, i.e. the entire and very unlikely control of the Greater Middle East, they will therefore have every interest in seeking a modus operandi, which will depend above all on the stability of the Syrian regime.

 If Bashar al-Assad succeeds in stabilizing Syria, also with the help of Russia that, in the meantime is taking a good part of Iraqi oil, the trigger for a regional clash between Iran and Saudi Arabia will be avoided, and both will have every interest in negotiating an armed peace, i.e. a clear division of the areas of influence.

 If this does not happen, we will have the long war in the Greater Middle East, with an uncertain outcome which, however, will lead to two certain results: the West and EU greater dependence on Iranian or Saudi oil products, as well as the US gradual expulsion from the region and finally the continuous attack on Israel. The ultimate scenario will be the definitive jihadist destabilization of the Maghreb region.

Advisory Board Co-chair Honoris Causa Professor Giancarlo Elia Valori is an eminent Italian economist and businessman. He holds prestigious academic distinctions and national orders. Mr. Valori has lectured on international affairs and economics at the world’s leading universities such as Peking University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Yeshiva University in New York. He currently chairs “International World Group”, he is also the honorary president of Huawei Italy, economic adviser to the Chinese giant HNA Group. In 1992 he was appointed Officier de la Légion d’Honneur de la République Francaise, with this motivation: “A man who can see across borders to understand the world” and in 2002 he received the title “Honorable” of the Académie des Sciences de l’Institut de France. “

Middle East

Iran Proposed Five-Nation Bloc for Regional Stability, Peace, and Progress

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In February this year, Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi received Syed Mohammad Ali Hosseini, an Iranian Ambassador to Pakistan. Pakistan’s foreign minister Qureshi expressed his thoughts through praising the traditionally strong ties between both the nations and showed his consent to further strengthen collaboration in all dimensions which would be mutually beneficial for both Tehran and Islamabad. As for as the historical, cultural, and religious affinities are concerned, both nations enjoy rich support of commonalities including similar views on the foreign occupation which proved as a source of disaster for them. Besides, Iran was the first country to recognize Pakistan after its independence in August 1947. As both Pakistan and Iran’s basic factor of the independence was Islam and current scenario portrays a bad picture of Islamic countries which are suffering from a cluster of problems under foreign agenda. In this connection, the role of Islamic nations has not been effective in addressing issues of the Islamic Ummah. Hosseini also expressed his grievances over the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) by explaining that it was not producing fruitful results for Muslim Ummah. He further talked about the sufferings of Muslim Ummah and the malicious plan of the United States along with Israel to subdue them.

Moreover, FM Qureshi showed consent to visit Iran for meeting with its leadership to talk about their concerns and disputes and their possible diplomatic solution. Moreover, during a meeting with Hosseini the Advisor to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue, Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, told that the government aimed at expanding the bilateral trade with Iran. So, giving more boost to the relation of both the nations, the Iranian Ambassador proposed a new bloc for addressing regional issues and promoting cooperation among themselves. This bloc will include Russia, China, Turkey, Pakistan, and Iran because these nations are capable of forming such an alliance that could effectively handle regional issues for the better future of the region. Similarly, he expressed his consent and help for solving the Afghan problem which is a great hindrance to regional peace and stability along with creating security issues for Pakistan. Iran aims at linking Pakistan’s Gwadar Port with Chabahar Port of Iran via rail link which ultimately generates the economic benefits for both the nations.

He dubbed the recent “Deal of the Century” proposed by American President Trump for peace in the Middle East irrational and unjust which consists of many doubts over American-Israeli Alliance. In this situation where the whole world is trapped with the fatal disease of Corona Virus, the United States which considers itself the oldest democracy, protector of human rights and most developed nation on earth, has imposed more sanctions on Iran. While UN Security Council Members and signatories of the 2015 Nuclear Deal with Tehran namely Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany rejected Trump’s call for sanctions on Iran. President Trump’s action portrays that he is under stress in whichhe looks unable to understand repercussions and results of the policies and actions taken by him. While at the same time he is ignoring the traditions and values of the founding fathers of his nation as well as he has no respect and obligation for international rules and laws.Furthermore, the Iranian Ambassador showed enthusiasm for increasing and strengthening the multilateral economic cooperation. In this regard, Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline is an important project and will even become more productive if it is linked with the CPEC which not only brings the huge economic development in both Tehran and Islamabad but also the region through making it more stable and developed.

Thisnew regional bloc could prove productive through solving themulti-faceted issues faced by the countries of this region. Whereas America has remained unsuccessful in eliminating the problems of the region, therefore, it is the responsibility of regional states to become serious in making such bloc which seriously takes the vast problems towards the solution for the development, peace, stability, and progress of the underdeveloped nations of the region. Besides, the Iranian President has also proposed cryptocurrency for Muslim nations for settling payment transactions as an alternative to the US dollar such as proposed by BRICS nations earlier. He further explained that the US always uses economic sanctions as the main tool of domineering hegemony and bullying of other nations. As stated by Iranian President that there is always room for diplomacy, therefore “let’s return to justice, to peace, to law, commitment and promise and finally to the negotiating table” which is the last and effective solution for any issue.Iran’s proposal of five nations bloc portrays a rational and real picture of solving the staggering and long-lasting problems of the region. Furthermore, the nations which are proposed by Iran in the bloc have no history of worsening or spoiling the situation of the region as America has been involved in generating the multiple problems throughout the region via its policies and actions. All these five regional nations have stakes in the region such as political, economic, social and financial. Therefore if the region is developed, peaceful and protected than they collectively can secure their interests along with giving the benefits to other regional nations as well.

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Middle East

The rapport between Iran and Turkey over Syria: Liaisons or tussle?

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The two powers of Iran and Turkey constitute a crucial feature on the map of the Middle East. The influence of the dyadic interactions exceeds sometimes the meanings of any bilateral ties, transcending the political borders to impact the geographical proximity of surrounding states. However, more evident their influences upon the Arab Sphere were at the aftermath of what so-called the Arab Spring, particularly in Syria that became the most prominent playground for their regional competition became.

Syrian tragic conflict has, indeed, a multi-scalar interaction with different players, each of which is driven by complex and contradictory motivations. In the same vein, Turkey and Iran have several aims for intervening into Syria militarily. Nonetheless, the explicit objective for Turkey is to create a ‘buffer zone’; thus, it might drive out the Kurdish presence along its border with Syria and address the Syrian refugee issue there. On the other side, the strategic partner for Syria, Iran, is seeking to bolster Assad’s government, as it used to work as a safety valve for the regime in Damascus.

In order to prop up Bashar al Assad’s regime, Tehran developed close ties with Russia that changed the equation in Syria. But, Moscow founded the rapports with the strategical foes of Tehran; Saudi Arabia and Israel. Likewise, the “marriage of convenience” brought Turkey with Russia, which, subsequently, facilitates carving up northern Syria between them by Sochi agreement, in October 2019.

Although it worked on the opposite front to Turkey’s, nevertheless, Iran attempts always to maintain warm and unruffled relationships with it. Tehran has overtly been competing, just as it covertly cooperating with Ankara in Syria for managing the dynamic variables of the surrounding area. Subsequently, the unsatisfactory with Turkey’s presence in the torn-war Syria doesn’t mean by any means a full conflictual; neither means otherwise, a comprehensive cooperation and peace. After all, seems, Iran needs Turkey shortly both in Syria and beyond.

Upon the US withdrawal from the Kurdish-held zone of northern Syria the dispute between the two-peer regional powers, Iran and Turkey, has surfaced off considerably off. Tehran has continuously been preserving a secret connection with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units which backed by the US. It was gaining a margin of leverage by occasionally working as a covert conduit bridging the differences between the Kurdish movement and the al-Assad’s regime.

Nonetheless, Iran’s substantial concern was a repercussion which might spill over its Kurdish regions if Turkey fulfils its intent to fill the expected power vacuum in the north of Syria.Thus, it was not surprising, once Turkey uncovered its intention by interfering the north-eastern Syria militarily, Iran announced the military exercises under the slogan “one goal … one bullet” in the area barely 20 miles from the Turkish border. Its maneuver, however, implied two-edges; on the one hand, it was against any potential Kurdish movement in its territory.

On the other hand, it gesticulated an external dimensional message, mainly to Turkey. In parallel to this combatant stand, Iran attempted to show, at least rhetorically, its alignment with and understanding of, Turkey’s anxieties. As the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani stated in an amicable expression: “We are calling on our friendly and brotherly neighbor Turkey to act with more patience and restraint and to revise its decision and chosen path” of military invasion. Further, Tehran urged Ankara alternatively to work inline with the Adana agreement.

The Adana agreement of 1998 was signed between Turkey and Syria to address the border differences. The broker of the deal, along with the other Arab countries, was Iran, and the primary aim of the agreement was at expelling the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) from Syria.

A complex of causes makes Iran avoid Turkey’s dissatisfaction. The latter was always supportive of the Iranian regime in challenging times. Turkey, whether during the war between Iran and Iraq in the 1980s or international sanctions that intensified on Tehran in 2012, opened its borders with Iran to allow the trade that reached Europe. Similarly and lately, it helped Tehran to circumvent the US suffocating sanctions to a large extent.

As well, Turkey attempted to exploit the tensions between Tehran and Riyadh after the attacks on Aramco’s oil facilities in eastern Saudi Arabia last September, by denying Tehran’s involvement in the attacks. In an interview with Fox News, Turkish President RecepTayyip Erdogan said: “I don’t think it would be the right thing to blame Iran.”A few days later, when the architect of Iranian expansion in the Middle East the Iranian military leader Qasem Soleimani was assassinated, Erdogan offered condolences to him, though didn’t use ‘martyr’ to describe him.

Notwithstanding, the chapter of persuasive confrontation between Iran and Turkey manifested when the Syrian airstrike hit the Turkish-backed forces in Idlib province on 27 January 2020. That resulted in killing 33 Turkish combatants. While Russia accused the Turkish soldiers of being “operating alongside jihadist fighters” when they had been struck, conversely and simultaneously, Iran emphasized on deescalating and restraining the tension in Idlib. It, further, called for all parties resort to decisions that had been taken by the presidents of Astana Process.

Although the Iranian President and his Turkish counterpart conducted a discussion on the phone regarding the tension over Idlib province, Turkey carried on the retaliation by launching a dozen air and missiles attack against the Syrian troops. The offence begot causalities of the Syrian military as well as several deaths of Iranian-backed forces in the northwest of Syria. As per the official Iranian media reported eight fighters of Hezbollah, and at least 21 militants affiliated with Fatemiyoun and Zaibayoun brigades were among the deaths.

Concurrently, Ankara opened the borders for the influx of the Syrian refugees to head for Europe. By so doing, it attempted to force its allies of the NATO states to pressurize Russia in order to alter its policy in Syria. Again and as always, Russian condemned the Turkish raids, but, its pragmatic rapprochements with Turkey outweigh the differences. Therefore, it is no wondering to see Russian assistance to Damascus minimized notably. Further, a deal will be reached to reduce the tension in Idlib when the Turkish President met his Russian counterpart in Moscow on March 2020.

On the other side, Iran and its affiliates warned Turkey by referring that its troops were within their “fire range”. Tehran, however, tried to shun from escalating the situation, and instead, it was accusing the US of getting Ankara into Syrian trap. Meanwhile, it was calling Ankara for holding a new summit for Iran, Russia, and Turkey within the Astana summit framework.

By devoting immense political and financial potentialities to safeguard the Ba’ath regime, Iran was not ready to cede its clout there. So convinced too, it prefers a political triumph over martial achievements. Perhaps, for that reason, it worked to boost connections with the major players in Syria, including Turkey. However, Iran shares Turkey several issues not merely in Syrian circle, but expand to the regional level sometimes. In addition to their shared economic and commercial benefits, they both have a fear of Kurdish ambitions to establish of own state, as they both stood firmly with the government of Baghdad against the Kurdish referendum in the north of Iraq in 2017. Second: Although, Turkey’s differences with Washington are mostly temporary; it meets with Iran in several issues that troubled their relations with the US.And thirdly: They were mutually pro-Qatar stand against Saudi and its allies. Qatar’s flights switched to the “Iranian airspace and Turkey upped the ante on its military presence in the country as a sign of strength and commitment”.

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Middle East

Teething Troubles for Pakistan in Mediating the Saudi-Iran Tension

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Imran Khan’s visit to America, China, Iran, and Saudi Arabia carries much importance concerning the unity of the Muslim community and solution of their long-standing differences and enmities particularly Saudi-Iran Tension. Moreover, these visits are not only very significant for the relations of Tehran and Jeddah but also for Pakistan, being one of the neighbors of Iran. As for as the visit of PM Imran Khan to China is concerned, Beijing, being a rising power and an economic giant, could play a very effective and decisive role in normalizing the relations between Iran and Saudi along with Pakistan because of its economic interests. Islamabad has been experiencing many changes in the national, regional and global dynamics. In this regard, Pakistan wants to balance its side by engaging with China and tries to mediate between Iran and Saudi to end the long-standing conflict between both the Muslim nations.

However, it is not easy to lessen the tensions between both the rival nations as perceived by a large portion of societies because America never allows this to happen smoothly while it will try vigorously to counter this activity because of its long-standing problems with Iran. Particularly looking over the policies and actions of the United States against Iran such as when the whole world is suffering from a fatal disease known as COVID-19/Corona Virus, America imposed more sanctions on Iran which is against humanity. Besides, the killing of Iran’s top bras general QasimSulemani in an attack by the US and the scrapping nuclear deal with Iran are condemnable acts. There can be many reasons for opposition from the United States for instance, it never wants China to engage with various nations throughout the globe mainly Iran. Because it creates the environment of friendship and engagement for China with other nations which pose threat and fear for the dominant position of Washington.

Moreover, America considers Iran as one of the staunch opposite nations of the world therefore the conflict between the US and Iran has been continued for very long. In this regard, America has imposed numerous sanctions upon Iran which creates more hardships for Tehran to smoothly run its affairs. While Iran considers it the violation of international and humanitarian laws that should not be bearable for any well-educated, sophisticated and sincere nation of the world. According to Iran, the US has been practicing inhuman and illegal policies throughout the world, especially the Muslim World. In this regard, Iran in the UN General Assembly strongly condemned the policies and actions by Washington in which Iran is on top of the list. On the other side, Saudi Arabia is one of the closest and reliable allies of America because of its economic interests.

Rationally looking over the US-Saudi bond, Washington keeps much influence concerning the economic, political and financial policies of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In this regard, attacks on the oil fields of Saudi Arabia created insecurity for it therefore Saudi King called MBS requested more American forces to protect the security of his country. There are multiple perspectives regarding the control, influence and creating the warlike environment in the oil-rich Muslim nations of the Middle East. For instance, it is considered by a huge portion of the population within the Muslim world that these all issues and conflicts which have generated the deaths, destruction, fear, and insecurity all over the region are created by America to gain its interests mainly economic benefits.

This is the reason for which America intervenes within these countries rich in natural resources in the pretext of saving humanity and the US being a savior of human rights violations all over the world. While within the Western nations it is considered that terrorism and other multiple kinds of evils are generating from this region because of the undemocratic structure of these states. In this regard, the US should intervene to eliminate all evils from the region for protecting the peace and progress of the world. Therefore, Pakistan can play a very significant role through normalizing Saudi-Iran relations though it is very difficult because of sectarian division between both nations. Recent condemnation and opposition by PM Imran Khan about the new sanctions on Iran by the US is a good and positive sign. Besides, it is also considered by a huge population within the Muslim world that they are under the serious threat of Western Powers beneath different agendas so Pakistan being the only nuclear power state within the Muslim countries should seriously take the issue towards a peaceful solution. Though it is also in the interest of Islamabad because in case the spiraling tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran are not solved and turn into the escalation of the conflict, Pakistan because of Iran’s neighbor will face direct impact which could be sectarian violence and increasing oil prices.

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