Geopolitic Keys to Understand the Situation in the Middle East and Eurasia

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By: Pepe Escobar / Salir del Euro WordPress / The Dawn News / June 23, 2017

Photo credit: Nepal Foreign Affairs
Photo credit: Nepal Foreign Affairs

A few days ago, a huge geopolitical change occurred in Astana, Kazajstán, but despite its magnitude it has barely been registered by the Atlantic countries.

At the annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), founded in 2001, India and Pakistan were admitted as full members, joining the six original members: Russia, China and the Central Asian nations of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

So now the SCO is not only the largest political organization—in terms of territorial extension and population—in the world. It also encompasses four nuclear powers. The G7 is irrelevant—it was obvious in the latest summit in Taormina. The true epicenter of the world, besides the G20, will be the OCS.

Despite being permanently ridiculed by the West for over a decade as a mere dinner party, the OCS keeps moving on. As the President of China, Xi Jinping, elegantly pointed out, “the OCS represents a new paradigm in international relations, which offers a win-win deal for all of its members through cooperation.

The OCS’ brand is subtle. Their initial emphasis (in the post-September-11 world) was to fight against what the Chinese call “the three evils”: terrorism, separatism and extremism. When they created it, Beijing and Moscow were mainly thinking about Afghani talibans (and their connections with Central Asia, especially through the Uzbekistan Islamic Movement). But now the OCS is concerned about the deterioration of security in Afghanistan and is calling its members to support a process of “peace and reconciliation”.

From now on, the OCS will be directly involved in the search for a solution for the “afghan question”—with India and Pakistan on board—and will probably achieve more the Pentagon’s strategy which consists in sending more troops.

By the way, NATO lost the war in Afghanistan. The taliban now control at least 60% of the country. And now a predictable insult is added to the injury: the ISIS branch known as ISIL-KP (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – Khorasan Province) has just conquered Tora Bora, the territory the Pentagon bombarded while it was looking for Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Make no mistake, the OCS will take action in Afghanistan. And their plan is to take the Taliban to the negotiation table. China has been inaugurated as temporary president of the OCS and is willing to show real achievements in the next summit, to be held in June 2018.

Accelerate and pay in yuans

The OCS has evolved constantly in terms of economic cooperation. Last year, Gu Xueming, head of the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation (CAITEC), which is directly under the Minister of Commerce, proposed to create a study group to establish free trade areas among OCS countries.

Their goal: tighter economic integration (which is already in process) for small and mid-sized companies. The tendency towards convergence is unstoppable, and it will grow in parallel with the new silk road, and the Russian-led organization called the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU).

So it comes as no surprise that the bilateral meeting between Xi and president Putin served to give strength to the fusion between China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the EEU. And we’re not only talking about the BRI-UEE-OCS trio—we’re also talking about the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIb), the New Development Bank (NDB, formerly known as BRICS Development Bank), the Silk Road Fund and a wide range of mechanisms for political-economic cooperation.

Things are moving quickly in many fronts. In a recent conference entitled “The future of Asia” held in Tokyo, the supposedly anti-Chinese Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, announced that, provided that certain conditions are met, Japan is willing to cooperate with the BRI, due to its “potential to connect East and West, and the many regions in between”. So, a potential agreement between China and Japan would add to the BRI, the EEU and the OSC.

On the other hand, both China and Russia agree on speeding up the process to admit Iran as a full member of the OCS.

This inclusive policy has to be contrasted with the declaration of the United States’ Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, demanding a change of regime in Iran.

As the process of integration of Eurasia grows quickly, the arrogance of the West becomes more obvious.

Since Moscow decided to intervene in the Syrian war, the game has changed completely. No Western analyst—save for Alastair Crooke—understood that this was a OCS-style operation. Even though Iran, Iraq, Syria and Hezbollah are not a part of the OCS, the way in which they cooperate with Russia clearly shows that this is a viable alternative to the unilateral actions of “humanitarian” imperialism and NATO-style military adventures.

The “4+1” made up of Russia, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Hezbollah, is covertly backed by China, who is ready to fight all forms of jihadist salafist terrorism and at the same time avoid a change of regime in Syria.

With a chaotic foreign policy, Trump has proven he’s unable to coordinate any policy beyond the harassment of Iran. Therefore, for Russia and China Iran’s membership in the OCS is vert important.

Besides, Beijing is aware—due to its relationship with Qatar, its biggest natural gas supplier— of the risks that would come along with the Emirate accepting the payment of energy in Yuans.

The Qatar-Iran axis is the main reason behind the Saud House’s decision to refuse a joint exploitation of the biggest natural gas fields of the world (North Dome/South Pars) which they share with the Persian Gulf.

Qatar was slow to realize that after the “4+1”, it will never be possible to build a gas pipe from their territory to Turkey, through Saudi Arabia and Syria, with the goal of selling to the European market. Turkey also knows this. However, they could build a gas pipe through Iran, Iraq, and Syria, with potential expansion to Turkey, with the gas of North Dome/South Pars.

This whole equation would revolutionize energy production in Southwest Asia, with a considerable decrease in the hegemony of Saudi Arabia’s and the US’ petrodollars.

Imagine if the Qatar-Iran alliance sold their gas to Europe in Euros instead of US dollars, and that the Chinese paid Qatar and Saudi Arabia yuans for their energy supply.

Don’t make any mistake: the inexorable future of energy trade won’t be in petrodollars, it will be in yuans, because they’re convertible to gold.

The new caliphate

I cannot stress enough the importance of the strategic association of Russia and China to coordinate their policies on Eurasian integration.

In the first months of 2017, in Moscow and Beijing the work hypotheses was that Trump’s administration was willing to take Russia as a partner for oil and gas projects in Eurasia. This was the “Kissinger” model that Trump had insinuated. Its goal was to weaken the strategic alliance between Russia and China, as Washington would increase pressure on Beijing on multiple fronts.

But that can’t happen for now, due to the anti-Russian hysteria manufactured for US internal consumption.

In consequence, what’s left for Trump’s foreign policy is the global war on terrorism, and going back to using all resources to prevent an increase in Iran’s influence on Southeast ASia. This means promoting the geopolitical power of the pernicious Saud House.

This explains Trump’s enthusiasm on Twitter for a lightning war of the Saud House against Qatar—which is really a movement against Iran. Meanwhile, Beijing watches closely and has seen the action against Qatar for what it really is: an attempt to block the project for the new silk road.

At the same time, Beijing and Moscow are having fun due to obvious inconsistencies. The Pentagon doesn’t seem inclined to annex Qatar. The Al Udeid air base and the headquarters of the Centcom are enough. The head of the Pentagon, “Mad Dog” Mattis, is more than pleased for having sold F-15 for 12,000 million dollars to the “sponsor of terrorism”. While Trump “supports” the Al-Saud House, Mattis “supports” Doha. And Tillerson refuses to take sides.

The Gulf Cooperation Council (a nascent “Arab NATO”) could be dead buried despite Trump’s pathetic dance of swords in Riyadh. However, Moscow and Beijing (and also Tehran) are fully aware that these setbacks would only exacerbate the US “exceptionalism” (also known as the “deep state” policy), which will continue to create mayhem.

The “Syrian caliphate” is now dead, especially if Russia confirms the death of its creator. This is a shame, because a destabilized Syria would be perfect to destabilize Russia from the Caucasus to Central Asia. The Russian intelligence never forgets there’s only 900 kilometers from Aleppo to Grozni.

Like Terminator, the US “deep state” is back. Its wet dream continues to be creating the conditions to destabilize a vast territory from the Levant to South Asia, with potential future waves of terror to the North and East of Russia and China. The goal: preventing the coordination of the BRI, the EEU and the OCS.

To make things worse, the Pentagon refuses to abandon Afghanistan, which is a bridgehead that wreaks havoc in Central Asia. What could go wrong? After all, now Daesh is established in Central Asia, not far from Xinjiang and the economic corridor between China and Pakistan— the CPEC—, a necessary route for the silk road.

Nevertheless, Arabia’s lightning war on Qatar is developing and in the midterm it may unfold a monumental change, accelerating the admission of Turkey and Iran into the OCS, creating an entente between Doha, Russia and Iran, and giving a hard blow to the hegemony of petrodollar. All of this must have been discussed in great detail the Astana OCS summit between Putin and Xi.

US exceptionalism is behaving with increasing erraticness. All strategic decisions rely on the Xi-Putin relationship and they know it. Therefore it’s beyond doubt that the OCS will be forced to become increasingly involved in the protection of their big project for the 21st century: the integration of Eurasia.

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