Iran-Russia-China: A Strategic Alliance Is Born While the US Loses Ground and Allies

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Zarif Lovrov 18bb2

In 2005 Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad began “looking East” to consolidate Iran’s relationship with Russia and China rather than with Europe and the US. He shared the belief of the Rahbar, Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei, that the West could not be trusted.

In 2013, when Sheikh Hassan Rouhani came to power, the Leader of the Revolution did not reject his request to try and break through the “nuclear negotiation” with the Americans. “Go and try but know that if you give the West a finger, it will ask for the entire arm. They are untrustworthy”. Indeed, in 2018, President Donald Trump unlawfully and unilaterally revoked the 2015-signed “nuclear deal”, known as the JCPOA. Moreover, Trump exerted the harshest economic and commercial sanctions on Iran to attempt to break the country’s back and force it to submit. Two years later, in 2020, ties with the West are at their lowest level ever. Iran has accordingly changed its tactical relationship with Russia and China to a deeply- rooted strategic relationship with hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of deals now signed for periods of 20 and 25 years. 

Following the failure of the US “maximum pressure” on the “Islamic Republic”, Iran is holding firm under the leadership of Sayyed Ali Khamenei, excluding the possibility of contacting President Donald Trump, whether it is to re-negotiate the nuclear deal, offer any concessions, or discuss its missile programs. It is steadily developing its non-military nuclear programme notwithstanding the Israeli sabotage of its Natanz nuclear facility. Moreover, Iran has signed a $400 billions deal with China, without thereby precluding the possibility to sit around the table with a US president when President Trump leaves office in a few months or years. Also, Iran is preparing a new and more robust rapprochement and strategic collaboration with Russia, greater than ever, to create a united front including all countries under US sanctions, united together against Washington.

For the last two years, Europe offered words but no actions sufficient to honour the JCPOA. The European countries did not dare to stand against the unlawful US decision and prevented their banks and companies from respecting already signed contracts with Iran. European leaders have the interests of Israel in mind (after those of the US) above all others, and are unreliable partners. China and Russia are acting independently from the US unilateral sanctions on Iran and other countries are also joining in. The Iranian choice is very simple for us and Sayyed Ali Khamenei has taken a strategic choice which all key decision-makers support. We can’t wait for the next US President, for the day Trump leaves office. We have a clear objective and have the option to look into the US-EU choice once it is serious enough. However, both the US and the EU will no longer be Iran’s first choice of business”, said the Iranian decision-maker. China and Russia are not the only two countries who rejected the US unilateral sanctions. Turkey, India and Pakistan have all refused to cease their commercial and energy relationship with Iran.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Zarif made one of his most important visits to Moscow, a “tested partner in Syria and a real supporter at the United Nations at the most needed time when the US has lost its balance”, said the source. After the deal with China, a comprehensive deal with Russia is on its way to pave the road for Iran to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation as a member and no longer merely as an observer. This will involve establishing a very long -term partnership on all levels, including the military cooperation with another long-term deal to sign in the near future. 

These are exceptional deals with superpower countries. It is unusual for Iran to accept the terms imposed by dealing with such powerful countries; Iran is treading the minefield of article 3 of its constitution. New alliances are emerging, between countries united and strengthened by the imposition of US sanctions imposed on all of them. Meanwhile, the US is losing more ground and more allies.

*(Top image: Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (L) and Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) hold a joint press conference after their meeting in Moscow, Russia on July 21, 2020.)

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