Biden, Putin, Scholz on Middle East tour – no vacuum for Russia and China?
After the USA had withdrawn quite ignominiously from the Greater Middle East, especially in Iraq and then Afghanistan, the Global Times headlined: „Yesterday Vietnam, today Afghanistan, tomorrow Taiwan?“. After the USA ended its never-ending wars, which only drove up the national debt and led to nothing or quite a disaster, and also became a fracking oil nation and oil exporter, and Trump questioned NATO, Biden now wants to make it clear that the USA will not allow a vacuum be, neither in Europe, nor in the Indo-Pacific, nor in the Greater Middle East. So his Middle East tour is meant to signal that the US hasn’t written off the region and, as he said himself, doesn’t want to leave a vacuum for Russia and China to fill. Whether the USA can fulfill all these obligations and its promises is another question. Biden was first in Israel, then also held an allegedly unscheduled press conference with Palestinian President Abbas, in which Abbas expressed his complaints about the Israeli settlement policy, especially since Biden distanced himself from the old Trump line,and then on a direct flight to Saudi Arabia, which puts diplomatic recognition halfway down the Abraham Accord to further the anti-Iran axis, given that Iran has come very close to nuclear weapons in recent weeks, but the anti-Putin front does not want to be as fruitful there as like the Quad partner India, Saudi Arabia imports 600,000 tons of Russian oil to increase its own capacity for world markets and reduce US inflation by rasiing its output to another 1 million. But Biden is also considering oil imports for the USA from Venezuela and Iran. At least Saudi Arabia wants to pass on the demand for an increase in oil production within OPEC for Biden. OPEC or OPEC plus, maybe on conspiring side doors with Russia or without?
Then the new NMO/Greater Middle East NATO, especially against Iran. I2U2 is the English combat term: India, Israel, UAE, USA. He also met with Palestinain president Abbas, Iraw and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). At Biden’s meetings with MSB and Lapid, Biden stressed that Iran’s nuclear weapons will be prevented, but now diplomacy should save it, while Lapid quite soberly announces a military strike by Israel. Well, Biden says that you shouldn’t rule that out in the worst case either, but spreads purposeful optimism.
Two days later, after his first trip abroad to the post-Soviet republics, Putin is now making his second foreign policy trip to Iran and as a counterpoint to Biden. The question would also be what was on the agenda. The Iran nuclear negotiations – one reads nothing about it, but it is hardly conceivable that this sensitive point would be left out and how is Russia actually acting in the Vienna negotiations on an Iran deal, which are now also taking place in Qatar? The US spread the rumor that Iran wanted to sell 200 drones to Russia after Erdogan and his son-in-law had already supplied Ukraine with Bayraktar drones, Turkey captured a Russian ship with allegedly stolen and smuggled Ukrainian wheat and now also acts as the big mediator and redeemer of world hunger, wants to get involved between Russia and Ukraine, also with demands for the Black Sea and Aegean, is now also planning a northern Syria offensive, while it is sitting at the same table in the Asthana peace group with Iran and Russia and now with Russia and Iran at the meeting in Tehran. If he also mentions the Ukraine war, except that this weakens NATO and the USA, the SS-400 that he and Iran have and maybe even need more heavy war equipment from Russia, insofar as it can still deliver it at all, he tells the Russians and Iranians that he approved the NATO membership of Sweden and Finland by promoting to channel NATO’s thrust from the south and east to the north. Well, that wouldn’t be particularly believable.
At least, Iran Press TV reports the following apparent success for Putin and Iran:
„Iran’s NIOC, Russia’s Gazprom sign $40bn investment deal
Iran Press TV
Tuesday, 19 July 2022 12:33 PM
The National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) and Russia’s Gazprom have signed a „historic“ deal worth $40 billion for joint investment in oil and gas projects.
NIOC’s chief Mohsen Khojastehmehr and Gazprom’s deputy chairman Vitaly Markelov signed the memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the two state companies using a video conference link on Tuesday, according to a report by the Iranian Oil Ministry’s news service Shana.
The deal was signed just hours ahead of a planned visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin to Tehran.
Shana’s report said the MoU will cover development projects at several Iranian oil and gas fields, including a $10 billion project in Kish and North Pars gas fields located in the Persian Gulf as well as a $15 billion project to boost pressure at South Pars, the world’s largest gas field located on the maritime border between Iran and Qatar.
NIOC and Gazprom will also cooperate on finishing liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects as well as on building gas export pipelines and on swap deals between Iran and Russia involving natural gas and petroleum products, it added.
NIOC’s Khojastehmehr said the deal with Gazprom will be the largest foreign investment commitment on record in the entire history of the Iranian oil industry, adding that it will account for a fourth of all investments planned for the Iranian oil sector until 2025.
He said delegations from the NIOC and Gazprom had held meetings in Russia’s Saint Petersburg and in Tehran before the signing of the agreement.
The official, who also serves as an Iranian deputy oil minister, said the two state companies will begin technical and economic talks on the investment deal in the near future.“
Well, a memorandum of understanding is not yet a contract. But it is no laughing matter when authoritarian fascist regimes want to unite against the evil West. Perhaps a courageous Israeli military strike against Iran would provide some clarity, even if the USA and others, especially China, would have to fear a further explosion in oil and gas prices and inflation. Russia and the oil-exporting states would initially be the beneficiaries in terms of rocketing oil prices, although the Greater Middle East states would probably also be physically drawn into the Iran-Israel war, including the destruction of oil facilities and internal unrest, which is why they will have a different point of view on it than Russia and Putin have. After all, almost unnoticed, the USA held the largest military maneuvers in their history „Chariots of Fire“ with Israel, in which a war against Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas was trained, also with US refueling planes. Especially since the Israelis have 200 to 400 nuclear weapons, so they can deter Russia from intervening in favor of Iran. A bold military strike that will bomb Iran back to the pre-nuclear era is on the agenda. Hoping that Iron Dome and Iron Beam can intercept all the missiles from Iran and Hezbollah if they shoot them all down, as a Tehran Times editorial called for this time and illustrated graphically on the front page. .But that’s priced in, as is the threat of total annihilation of Iran and Hezbollah. Maybe the Jerusalem Post will also publish a headline in future against Iran „Just one wrong move and it´s over!“.
Front page of Tehran Times showing missile threat against Israel (photo credit: Tehran Times)
Meanwhile, the alleged central power of the EU, Germany after Habeck’s visit to Qatar because of LNG, and German politicians in Israel are now very much focused on Egypt. On the one hand, the Petersberg climate dialogue took place in Berlin, which is to be followed by a climate summit in Egypt, and Al Sissi is also staying in Berlin for this reason and is trying to make a name for himself as a pioneer for climate protection, women’s rights and social rights and has signed several contracts with Germany in this direction and present his country as a forerunner in progressivness. That is why General President Al Sissi was in Berlin yesterday and today. LNG, i.e. gas, also as an unofficial representative of the axis of the Mediterranean gas forum from Cyprus, Greece, Egypt and Israel ( while their are currently alternative thought of another axis Israel-Qatar-Turkey and then again Central Asia and Caucasus, starting with Azerbaijan), the freedom of naviagtion and the Suez Canal, hydrogen technology, German Railway network for Egypt by Siemens and the German leading hand in the construction of the new capital were contractually secured and are then will also subsidized by the state. It would have been interesting how Scholz would have conducted his conversation with Al-Sissi. We imagine it like this.
Scholz: “And now that we have signed the gas contract and the hydrogen deal along with the Siemens German Baghdad Railway in Egypt and German engineering in the new capital, we still have to come to one last topic on our common agenda that is unpleasant for both of us: human rights. Dear Al Sissi, in Germany we have a slightly different political system than in Egypt. The Germans are a good people and love people and human beings and that is why they are also in favor of human rights for all people and want everyone to be well. Who doesn’t want that? But there are no perfect societies. But that’s why many Germans are for human rights, almost religious, they are our small few Muslimbrothers in this sense, but we don’t arrest them and treat them in a humane way , but conduct a human rights dialogue with them, but they tell their government this again and again if they believe that human rights are being violated. Then we should ask about it. But most Germans, like most Egyptians, are not interested in this, they want a better material life and more consumption and are also more interested in sports than in political matters or human rights or fear that the emphasis on human rights could bring material disadvantages to them. Then we should ask about it. At least they refer to the UN Human Rights Charter, which also includes social rights and the right to development as human rights, which must also be advocated, as you and President XI rightly point out. We both and our countries have campaigned for this by signing the contract for the first 5 development projects, thus for social rights and I am a social democrat and social (as was Mubarak as a member of the Socialist International – advice from the interpreter: better leave it out).
But now many moral Germans and NGOs are saying that this is not enough and are at least demanding free elections in Egypt. Maybe an idea, but then don’t let the Muslim Brotherhood win the elections. Also with regard to Camp David and German sovereignty, which is Israel’s security. Kashoghi is now forgotten, who cares about Julian Assange or even Mursi or whatever his name was. This is just good advice from Germany, but now let’s take care of the social rights of the first section of the treaty and our people, and then let’s talk about the other topic at another time.“
It is interesting how Al Sissi reacted to journalists‘ questions about human rights at the Berlin press conference. He campaigned for a human rights dialogue with Germany, and also invited the journalists to come to Egypt and see how things are with human rights, social rights and – “feminist foreign policy sends its signals – women’s rights in Egypt. Yes, it is estimated that Western journalists will be led through zones without headscarves or with a few Muslims wearing headscarves, who will all explain how misogynist they find the Muslim Brotherhood and the Taliban or Iran and then also lots of fortune seekers and happy job finders along Siemens‘ new Baghdad railway or the new one small, smart, sustainable Germania in Egypt maybe without a pyramid, but enough skyscrapers, maybe with an Egyptian twin tower. But beware: Islamism never sleeps. The war on terror didn’t seem to have been a point anymore, maybe Al-Sissi has pacified Egypt so well and will do so even more. It’s best to see Al Sissi’s propaganda video of Vision 2030, which MSB also had shot in Saudi Arabia. One can look forward to the appropriate new Middle East media coverage. Scholz won´t give al-Sissi a warm physically hug like his predecessor Schröder oder some other German politicans with Putin, nor will he call him a „flawless democrat“, but also not classify him in categories such as „killer“ (Biden about Putin and Saudi Arabia’s MBS) or the like. Especially if the leader of the Alliance of democracies no longer does either. Rather business as usual.And as long as Al Sissi does not invade Libya or Sudan or dream of a Greater Egyptian Empire, i.e. be the more military-controlled development dictatorship with internal stability, this should be fine with the West, insofar as it would not support such interventions on its own geopolitical calculations for the MENA region.
But Al Sissi’s main task is to keep Egypt so stable that the Suez Canal does not cause disruptive disruptions to the supply chains and container ships, which then result in reports of the German BILD newspaper which causes panic break outs among the Germans that their Christmas presents and especially Nintendo game consoles are no longer on the gift table in time to come. After the war in Ukraine and China’s Zero Covid strategy, other areas are now also being seen as critical for German public sentiment for the first time. But Al Sissi built a second Suez Canal within 3 years instead of the planned 5 years. Yes, one can only hope that Siemens will organize and plan the high-speed tracks and the German engineers and urban planners and architects for the new Egyptian capital, differently to the Berlin airport or Stuttgart 21. The question is also whether one wants to see Egypt under the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood who, with Erdogan, Qatar and Hamas, can perhaps also blackmail the West and the world economy by controlling the Suez Canal, like Hitler Germany once tried with the Afrika Corps against the British Empire by conquering Egypt and taking control of the Suez Canal and then attacking Israel. After the West wants to become independent from Putin, such an axis would Turkey, Muslim Brotherhood in the Greater Middle East, Hamas, Qatar might be the next potential for blackmail for the West, especually if the Suez Canal, the gas supplies, and especially Camp should come into their hands and Israel’s security could also be threatened, which, according to Merkel, means „German state sovereignty“.