Is the SA Iran deal or June 2023 the beginning of the end of the American Century?

Is the SA Iran deal or June 2023 the beginning of the end of the American Century?

In this picture released by the Iranian Foreign Ministry, Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, left, shakes hands with his Saudi Arabian counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, right, and Chineses counterpart Qin Gang in Beijing Thursday, April 6, 2023. (Iranian Foreign Ministry via AP)
Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, left, shakes hands with his Saudi counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, right, and Chinese counterpart Qin Gang in Beijing, April 6, 2023 [File: Iranian Foreign Ministry via AP]

A good question is whether the SA-Irandeal under Chinese mediation will now be sustainable, leading to pacification of the region and perhaps economic development, as China promises and hopes for  with its Global Security Initiative, Global Development Initiative with a focus on BRI and Global Xivilization Initiative under the ideological umbrella of the Xi Jinping Thought. The question is also to what extent Saudi Arabia’s experiences with the USA play a role. It is often said that Biden lost SA because he alienated them over the Khashoggi murder and lack of support for the Yemen war and adherence to the Iran deal. But the roots of the alienation go further back: Namely to the Iraq war of 2003. SA spoke out vehemently against a war against Saddam Hussein, since he was “in the box” (Albright), no threat after tBush sen.´s First Gulf War., yes SA feared a destabilization of the entire Greater Middle East and the rise of Iran, which then also occurred as feared. SA expected from the USA that instead of Iraq with boots on the ground, Iran and its still in its infancy Nuclear weapons program would be permanently eliminated by means of air strikes like the Israelis in Osirak and without boots on the ground, i.e. the real danger of weapons of mass destruction and not fake news hallunizated propaganda ones , thereby eliminating the option of a nuclear Iran. But this did not happen despite all the big-sounding slogans about an Axis of Evil. As quickly as the USA had come, they withdrew again under Obama and plunged the entire region into the next chaos, including the rise of Iran and the Islamic State. Trump was the hope, but as the USA is still ademocracy, goverments and presidents are changing, even if Trump wants to change this,  and under Biden it looked different, now also with Netanyahu. The times of Trump, who copied Teddy Roosevelt’s saying about US-backed dictators „They are gangsters, but they are our gangsters“ also in relation to MBS and Bibi, are hoped to be remembered, especially since even Netanyahu, like Erdogan, accuses Biden to carry out a colored revolution against him and  his plans for a Trump-like dictatorship. The experience of the Iraq war and the experience of changing US government and foreign policy, i.e. A lack of continuity and reliability, as well as the mutual bleeding of SA and Iran through their proxy wars, may be the main reasons why MBS has now turned around for the time being. after years of war. apparently peaceful economic development is now being promoted, above all the ambitious Vision 2030, as well as China claims to perform a strategic and continuous peaceful foreign policy without value liberalism, but with diversity instead of a clash of cultures and civilizations and the New Silk Road, which preferably should include all states of the Greater Middle East from Pakistan/Afghanistan, Iran, SA, Israel up to the MENA region and hopes to be able to connect them all due to realpolitik and the ratio of a win-win homo economicus as a counter model to the primarily military-oriented, changeable and chaotic US foreign policy. The question, then, is whether SA will back off if Trump is re-elected, as one evangelical fundamentalist proclaims:

“Mega pastor: If Trump re-elected, Saudis will normalize Israel ties

Pastor Robert Jeffress is a recipient of the Friends of Zion Award.”

Under Trump, it is very likely that the SA Iran deal is perceived by him above all as  an expression of the Sino-American conflict and as China threat, which is why this then has to be fought twice, Trump would try to extend the  Abraham’s Accord between SA and Israel. put the question of a nuclear Iran back on the agenda, just as he would unilaterally side with Israel and also “our gangster” Bibi  in the mutual escalation of the Palestinian question and Jerusalem. Conversely, the question is whether SA will wait for  Trump again, it is also possible that he will not be elected or if that only one term will remain. The question is also what he will cause a decisive breaktrough in the Middle East or produce more  new chaos and to what extent Iran’s escalation only wants to drive up the price of a Middle East deal or if Iran really wants to go on the offensive now, especially since Iran is not only on the front against Israel on the part of Syria, Lebanon and Gaza, but also wants  to expand it through a Hamas victory in the West Bank and an Islamization of Sudan, especially since the hacking group Anonymous Sudan has meanwhile hacked the Israeli missile defense system and the Iron Dome and, according to the Jerusalem Post, has apparently achieved some successes, in short: because Iran thinks that Israel is weakened and on the verge of collapse and that the United States can be pushed out of the Middle East. The question is also whether Iran would accept Saudi Arabia’s recognition of Israel and the Chinese could persuade Iran then to continue the SA-Iran deal, or whether this would be the rupture. The reverse question, however, is whether SA would also sign the Abraham Accord under Trump. And that the Chinese would not only bring about a reconciliation between the SA and Iran, but also a reconciliation between Iran and Israel still seems downright utopian, even if the CCP might think that if you can reconcile the shims between Shites and Sunnites, also in its extremist form like Kohomeinism and Wahhabism, you also could reconcile Iran and Israel, Shiites and Jews and the homo economicus of win-win and the cultural diversity of Xivilization would prevail and Khameini and Netanyahu could become the new Nobel Peace Prize winners like Sadat and Begin or Rabin and Arafat. In addition, the question of a nuclear Iran continues to remain the elephant in the room.

A former German ambassador believes in a fundamental and lasting loss of confidence of SA regarding the USA and commented as follows:

“Even if Trump is re-elected, the United States will lose confidence and lose authority in West Asia. For the following reasons: MSB and those around him had to pay dearly for the sword dance with Trump, allegedly in the hundreds of billions. They are said to have extorted the money from the Saudi billionaires being held at the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh, among others. The disillusionment with the political system in the USA, which allows MSB to be declared a pariah by Trump’s political competitor as „it’s nothing to you,“ is all the greater.

After this experience, the motto is: better with Beijing, because the people there are predictable! The Iranians say the same thing, not only because of the experience with the cancellation of the JCPOA, but also, for example, because of the classification in the „axis of evil“ at the beginning of 2002, although under Chatami they were looking for a compromise with Washington and the USA after 9/11. September 2001 against the Taliban. And throughout the region, the rulers and the ruled think back with shudders to the alleged „Arab spring“.

The question is whether the trust that SA has lost in the USA now leads to sustained trust in China, but above all in Iran. China’s mega-project does not rely on value liberalism, but on realpolitik, homo economicus and the diversity of cultures and civilizations, specifically: The Chinese believe that by the Xi Thoughts and their GSI, GDI and GCI they can bring together  even the most extreme forms of Shiaism and Sunniism, bring the Khomeiniists and Wahhabis together in a kind of Westphalian peace, whereby , under MBS SA  a religious liberalization has taken place, in contrast to Iran. So far, however, China has not been able to contribute anything significant in the Greater Middle East as a military power and, if necessary, protection. While the Saudis‘ confidence and trust  in the US may have been seriously shaken, they know that right now the USA is the only military power that could protect them unless China puts SA under its nuclear shield or can credibly stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons, because the establishment of their own military structures and regional alliances seems utopian. Theoretically, a nuclear deal with China could then also create the possibility that not only SA, but also Israel would no longer feel threatened by Iran from a nuclear point of view, which could be a game changer, especially under a Chinese-Iranian deal instead of the Iran deal of the USA, the EU and Russia, which was then terminated again under Trump. SA may have more confidence in China, but not yet in Iran. Likewise, Iran is now channeling all aggression against Israel, leaving the question of whether the Saudis will go along with it or sit back and wait, since China is also not interested in escalating the confrontation between Iran and Israel, unless it would change   its own inclusive  BRI on a corridor that is mainly exclusiveand focused on the Shia crescent, although the New Silk Road is supposed to include all countries in the region, including Israel and SA. Whether China would succeed in reconciling Iran/Israel like the USA did between Sadat and Begin and Rabin and Arafat, now between Khameini and Netanyahu is still utopian, yes that would be real worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize. But let’s not overestimate the CP China as a super diplomat who can do anything. GDI and GCI is nice, but without credible military underpinning, which GSI has so far been unable to deliver, missing any hard power apart from its initiatives, it all remains fragile and could prove to be voluntaristic wishful thinking hubris that lacks the hard power that the USA still have enough, especially as it remains to be seen to what extent Iran is inclined towards functional rationality and not towards religious fanaticism and ideology. But China’s belief in functional rationality is very high in terms of realpolitik and it even hopes to be able to convince the Taliban.

A still very hypothetical question, brainstorming and a game of thought: Is it possible that Israel will lose trust in the USA and turn to China, as long as the USA does not become an authoritarian dictatorship with a reliable hardcore Israel lobby of clerical-fascist evangelicals and religious right-wingers who perceive Israel as the their modern Crusaders and the Guardians of the Holy Places and the promised land, including Christianity, and die-hard Zionist Republican and Trumpists who would have no qualms about human rights, democracy and would unconditionally support an authoritarian dictatorship in Israel? What if Israel’s right-wingers also had enough of the US and the shifts in opinion, especially since Netanyahu has accused Biden wanting to topple him and of running a color revolution with a Israeli Spring? Why always wait for the change of opinion in US politics, or maybe go for a stable China, with the Silk Road and the giant super market? Unlike Saudi Arabia, Israel has its own nuclear weapons, does not need American or even Chinese nuclear protection, perhaps does not want to have to make a decision in a Sino-American conflict, is perhaps quite inclined to the idea of the New Silk Road, and if China succeeds, the confrontation between Israel and Iran could be limited and moderated or even eliminated, which would create a completely different constellation. Sounds kind of crazy so far, especially since the question is whether Israel would do this at all without Iran explicitly recognizing its right to exist, including the associated structural de-escalation mechanisms and security guarantees, or whether this would not undermine and destroy  the two essential ideological pillars of the mullahs‘ regime: headscarves and the fight against Israel, even its elimination , especially since Iran is escalating both internally and externally and is also positioning the Arab League’s 3-No policy against the Abrahams Accord? Is that possible with the current elite in Iran, especially since the green revolution and reformist Islamism have failed and a dictatorship by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards would more likely lead to an further escalation. Would a Chinese Abrahams Accord be conceivable? Is a kind of Westphalian peace in the Greater Middle East even conceivable after a kind of 30-year war in the Middle East? Maybe with one of those earlier ideas of a Middle East OSCE? Apparently the Chinese believe in it, also apparently in the functional rationality, especially of homo economicus, but isn’t that thought very secular and Euro- or just Sino-centric? Or is that just a camouflage by the CCP to get SA and Israel and other Muslim states out of their cooperation with the USA, in order to then strengthen the Shiite main axis and together with Russia, Iran, Iraq,  Syria and Hezbollah in Lebanon push the USA and Israel out of the Middle East should the balance of power change? There is the question of whether Biden can shatter as much trust in Israel´s trust in the USA ias he did with SA and whether trust in China and Iran could arise in the same way? So this is still a dream of the future. Yes, rather the wet dream of all those orientalists and diplomats in European and German foreign ministries who are always croaking for de-escalation at any price and now see their apparently better contact in China since Macron’s kowtow.

Qatar’s state broadcaster Al Jazeerra doesn’t see it as definitive and differentiates the whole thing a bit:

“Can China replace the US in the Middle East?

As the Saudi-Iran deal shows, Beijing’s clout in the region is growing. But it can’t substitute US security presence — and might not want to.”

In short: Despite the partial withdrawal of the USA from the Greater Middle East and more concentration on the Asian Pivot and the Ukraine war, the USA will continue to play a certain role in the MENA region and the Persian Gulf, not least because of their CENTCOM headquarters in Al Udaid in Qatar. In addition, the SA-Iran deal is not finished, nor is it final, because the really hard work is only beginning now and the chances of success are not guaranteed. In addition, the question also arises as to whether China could or would like to replace the USA in the Greater Middle East, especially militarily.

Also, one should not write off the United States in the Greater Middle East so quickly if one reads the following article in the „Jerusalem Post“:

“Israel has freedom to act against Iran nuclear threat – US

“Sturm und drang” over Netanyahu’s White House snub is overblown, US national security adviser says.


Published: MAY 5, 2023 17:02

Updated: MAY 5, 2023 18:03

Washington allows Israel freedom of action against the Iran nuclear threat, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said.

“We have made clear to Iran that it can never be permitted to obtain a nuclear weapon,” Sullivan said in an address to the Washington Institute think tank on Thursday. “As President [Joe] Biden has repeatedly reaffirmed, he will take the actions necessary to stand by this statement, including by recognizing Israel’s freedom of action.”

“This is an issue that occupies the president’s attention, my attention, on a daily basis,” he said. “Iran’s program has advanced considerably. It is a genuine danger to regional security and to global security, and, indeed, to the United States of America. And we are going to continue to take action to, yes, deter Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and then to seek a diplomatic solution that puts this on a long-term pathway of stability.”

The national security adviser said the US continues to use diplomatic channels regarding Iran’s nuclear program.

“The best way to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon is an effective agreement,” he stated. “I regard the decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, the JCPOA, without anything to replace it or any strategy to deal with it other than the imposition of sanctions—which we have continued and added to actually—is not necessarily a pathway to a clear and straightforward [deterrence].”

Iran’s nuclear program is advancing

Sullivan argued that without a deal, Iran’s nuclear program is advancing, while an agreement would scale it back.

“We will continue to send a clear message about the costs and consequences of going too far, while at the same time continuing to seek the possibility of a diplomatically brokered outcome that puts Iran’s nuclear program back in the box,” he said.

Sullivan said the US is cooperating with partners in the Middle East to deter Iran, such as holding the largest joint military exercise ever between the US and Israel this year, and one of the largest naval military exercises in the history of the Middle East with over 50 countries, including Israel and Gulf states working together.

“There can be no doubt that we are walking the walk and not just talking the talk when we say that our commitment to Israel’s security is ironclad,” he said.

He also participated in meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on deterring Iran.

Also on Thursday, Foreign Ministry  Deputy Director-General for Strategic Affairs Joshua Zarka and Deputy Director-General for Euro-Asia Simona Halperin met with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, primarily to discuss the Iranian nuclear threat and diplomacy related to the currently-defunct Iran nuclear deal, the Russian Foreign Ministry stated. 

Asked when Netanyahu could expect to be invited to the White House, after Biden publicly spoke out against the government’s judicial reform plan, Sullivan said: “The president has had a very long relationship with Prime Minister Netanyahu, and we remain deeply engaged with the Israeli government day by day, so a lot of the sturm und drang in the media I think has been very much overblown.”

“When the time is right, and when we have a visit to announce, we’ll announce it. And until then, I think kind of speculating or describing or trying to set any conditions around it just doesn’t comport with the way Joe Biden does business, and never has done business anywhere, especially with a country he loves like Israel,” he said.

Sullivan spoke at length about the Abraham Accords, the agreements forged in 2020 between Israel, the UAE, Bahran and Morocco, in its various aspects, as well as American efforts to get Saudi Arabia to normalize ties with Israel.

“We are working to strengthen and expand the Abraham Accords, supporting Israel’s ultimate, final, complete integration into the Middle East region and the world,” Sullivan said.

The Biden administration has “the interest and the bandwidth to promote normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia…Getting to full normalization is a declared national security interest of the United States, we have been clear about that.”

The opening of Saudi airspace to Israeli flights is “one step along the road toward what we hope will become a full normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia,” he said. 

The I2U2 forum of Israel, India, UAE and US is one “you will be hearing more about,” Sullivan predicted. 

“The fundamental notion is to connect South Asia to the Middle East to the US in ways that advance our economic technology and diplomacy,” he said. 

Sullivan also touted the Negev Forum, which brings together the Abraham Accords countries plus Egypt and the US to cooperate in a variety of areas.

In addition, in the MENA region, it seems that Japan and the G 7do not want to leave everything to Chinese initiatives, as the visit to Africa by Japanese Prime Minister Kishida testifies , who is now also trying to recruit Egypt’s Al Sissi for peace talks in Sudan, while German Chancellor Scholz is going to Ethiopia to further mediate to stabilize the Ethiopian ceasefire and to support peace talks in Ethiopia and Sudan. Scholz also suggested that the AU should be included in the G20. According to Al Sissi, he does not want to intervene militarily in Sudan so as not to further complicate the situation. He hopes for peace negotiations, especially since Egypt is already home to 8 million African refugees and will soon be unable to shoulder the new wave of refugees from Sudan. It’s interesting that Japan now wants to play a role as well, especially since it’s currently on tour in Africa  and will host the next G7 in Hiroshima:

“INTERVIEW/ Egypt president willing to work with Japan for Sudan cease-fire


Also interesting is an article by the Japanese Asahi Shimbum that even the Japanese elites fear a “leaderless era” for the future due to internal polarization in the USA. So it’s not as definitive as the Newsweek article „The end of the American Century“ describes in grave mood, especially since it is also questionable to what extent that would even be “The Beginning of the Chinese Century“, what Parag Khana in his „The Future is Asian” also called into question, if only because of different interests and the formation of opposing blocs triggered by China’s aggressive behavior in Asia. In addition, there is increasing cooperation  between NATO and Asian countries, above all with Japan, Australia, South Korea and India. It appears to be following suggestions at the Atlantic Council by Ian Brzezinski, who proposed closer links between NATO and Asia – albeit below the threshold of Ivo Daalder’s Global NATO. Although the Chinese Communist Party views this with suspicion and occasionally conjures up the specter of an “Asian NATO”. Whether that would result in a military alliance between China and Russia (North Korea) remains to be seen. Now the DDP-affiliated Taipei Times proudly announces the planned opening of NATO’s first liaison office in Japan.

NATO planning to open Japan office to deepen relations

Let’s see if one will follow in Australia (or does it already exist?) and South Korea, maybe India too. Let’s see if the Chinese report this in the Global Times tomorrow. At the time, Brzezinski’s son also proposed a NATO-China Council. But it wasn’t entirely clear what he was hoping for. Some kind of NATO-Russia Council for Asia? But is that realistic at all under the given constellations, especially since they didn’t even want to set up hotlines between the US and Chinese military. But in Japan, as in SA, trust in the US is limited, as the Asahsi Shimbum reports with reference to the prime minister’s adviser, who already feared a „leaderless era“ in 2020, as the US would increasingly turn inward. Japan must adapt to this.

“Japan should brace for ‘leaderless era’ as U.S. turns inward, adviser to PM say”

Meanwhile, Joint Chief of Staff Milley is dampening fears of a Sino-American war over Taiwan, especially since China does not yet have enough combat experience, military capacities, poor coordination and integration of weapon systems and troops, as such an operation is also much more risky and extensive than the Allied landings in Normandy in the Second World War, where you had to cross the English Channel, which was 30 km wide, but China had to cross the Taiwan Strait, which is more than 100 km wide. Nevertheless, it is striking that the USA never considers whether the Taiwanese would defend themselves so uniformly in the event of war or conflict, that the KMT and DDP have quite different views and Taiwanese society is quite divided about it. The question of whether a 5th column in the Taiwanese military, and the KMT would perhaps paralyze and sabotage everything to surrender without war and open the city gates to Beijing is never on the radar and is categorically ruled out due to the democratization of Taiwan and its military.


How to Avoid a Great-Power War

A Conversation With General Mark Milley

May 2, 2023”

U.S. Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at Ramstein U.S. Air Base, Germany, April 2023

The CCP also sees the internationalization of the yuan on the rise, indeed some Western capitulators and cultural pessimists already see the digital yuan replacing the hegemony of the US dollar and the American era, as nicely illustrated by a graphic circulating on social media:

The Asashi Shimbum also reports, quoting Reuters:

 „China’s small steps on offshore use of yuan are starting to add up

REUTERS April 28, 2023 at 3:40 p.m. JST

SINGAPORE–China’s yuan currency is slowly but surely being adopted for more international payments, which analysts say could lay foundations for a trade system running parallel to the dominant U.S. dollar.“

Nevertheless, these are small steps and the end of dollar hegemony is still a long way off.

Nevertheless, such a development could happen faster than expected, especially since after the bankruptcy of the Silicon Valley Bank and the First Republic Bank, which has now been bought by JP Morgan Chase, there are further fears about interest rate increases, and a new credit defaults  in addition to the hi-tech start-up sector, a potential fFinancial crisis that would emerge from the commercial real estate and still unregulated shadow banking sector, especially as US Treasury Secretary Yellen warns of a tearing of the debt ceiling in June. Although a compromise has always been reached in the US Congress at the last moment, the Chinese Communist Party fears, due to the Trumpists and fundamental opposition of many Republicans as well as the election campaign mood, that things could turn out differently and that the debt default could trigger a global financial crisis could pull the world economy and the Chinese economy into the maelstrom. Although this could also seriously endanger the hegemony of the dollar. A dramatic June 2023 could thus herald the end of the American century rather than any SA-Iran deals.  However, all sides hope that the China threat and the homo economicus- the cash driven US zealot gene- will prevail and unite the Americans and make them great again.

It is now also interesting that, conversely, with the India hype prevailing in the USA in view of the Sino-American conflict, India as the world’s largest democracy as a partner for the Alliance of Democracies, in view of derisking, decoupling and diversification already as a new global workbench to replace China and as military ally sees that now, for the first time, doubts about these desired projections are also being expressed in Foreign Affairs:

“America’s Bad Bet on India

New Delhi Won’t Side With Washington Against Beijing

By Ashley J. Tellis

May 1, 2023

For the past two decades, Washington has made an enormous bet in the Indo-Pacific—that treating India as a key partner will help the United States in its geopolitical rivalry with China. From George W. Bush onward, successive U.S. presidents have bolstered India’s capabilities on the assumption that doing so automatically strengthens the forces that favor freedom in Asia.

It is true that powerful geopolitical shifts are underway, especially in the direction of the Asian pivot. Whether it will be a Chinese, an Indian, a Pacific, an Asian century, especially without the USA, remains an open question, although the latter is unlikely.

In any case, it will not be a European century and has never been one – despite the Green New Deal and Fraeser’s LQBTIQ – rainbow flags and gender- One world- arm bind in Qatar. But greenbashing and sometimes not greenwashing and make Annalena Baerbock and her followers because of their value liberalism solely responsible for the deline of Europe would mean that the responsibility of „our gangsters“ Schröder and Merkel, who practiced so-called realpolitik and neoliberalism for decades, would be declared as undone.

One last breaking news:

„China Acknowledges ‚Russia’s Aggression Against Ukraine‘ But Doesn’t Depart From Putin’s Side“

That’s good. What a hypocrite warmonger Xi is: First he gave Putin the green light at the Beijing Olympics to start the Ukraine war, to use Putin as a battering ram for a multipolar world order under Russian-Chinese hegemony, hoping that would give him a free hand in the Indo-Pacific and when things go wrong for the time being and the West shows itself to be united, only Russia is the aggressor and Xi hypes himself and China as the ultimate world peace dove and new benign hegemon. With its GSI, GDI and GCI and associated initiatives, China is only taking a tactical intermediate step in order to position itself internationally and, in the CCP propaganda acts as contrast to the troublemakers and aggressors USA, NATO and Russia, as the alleged responsible stakeholder and the sole world peace power, in order to then return to the offensive in the fight for the multipolar world order under China’s leadership. That’s why Xi is still holding on to Putin.

„China and Russia want to “take cooperation to a higher level” – despite the war in Ukraine

They remain close allies: despite the war in Ukraine, China and Russia want to work more closely together. This was emphasized by the foreign ministers of both countries in India.“

Meanwhile, much regrouping on the Ukrainian front in preparation for the Ukrainian offensive. The Wagner boss announces withdrawal from Bachmuth for May if he doesn’t get any ammunition, Shoigu visits the troops and promises to help, a high-ranking military man, „the butcher of Mariupol“ switches to  Pirgoschin’s side, Kadyrov wants to replace Wagner, while there is a discussion in Russia whether the war should not be escalated and Zelensky killed because of the drone attack on Putin. Ukraine considers the Wagner maneuver just a tactical trick and is preparing for its offensive regardless all Russian news and fake news. It is interesting, however, when one hears US Chief of Staff Milley’s statements, Selensky’s support of the Chinese Ukraine initiative, especially since China speaks of the aggressor Russia for the first time in a UN resolution, most people now implicitly expect negotiations and a ceasefire of some kind. Maybe with Milley’s Korea solution. The most visible expression of the new mood was yesterday’s Phönixrunde on German TV, in which the topic was no longer about the war but about the post-war period. Selensky would go through the fate of Churchill. Celebrated war president, but no longer elected peace president. So far, he and those around him had been spared, but the Ukrainians would quickly revert to their mentality of being partisan and anti-government after the war. That would still bring some problems with it and the real probles would actually start after the war. Especially if the peace agreement does not turn out as hoped, an economic crisis follows and the reconstruction does not really progress. In another talk show, Jürgen Trittin also quoted former NATO Secretary General Rasmusen as saying that the main task after the war was to make Ukraine immune to further Russian hybrid wars so that investments could be made and the construction could be successful, especially since Putin and Russia could try to sabotage and prevent a flourishing Slavic tiger state in Ukraine ala South Korea after the Korean War as a western model. Then there also arises the question of a European post-war order, a new Iron Curtain and a barricade against Russia, Europe without or even against Russia or if with, in which areas and under what conditions

——————————————————————————————————————————————————Original sources:


“Can China replace the US in the Middle East?

As the Saudi-Iran deal shows, Beijing’s clout in the region is growing. But it can’t substitute US security presence — and might not want to.

By Erin Hale

Published On 25 Apr 202325 Apr 2023

Big Question illustration
[Nataliia Shulga/Al Jazeera]

On April 6, the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia and Iran met for the first time in seven years. A month earlier, top national security officials of the two countries had stunned the world, re-establishing diplomatic relations after years of hostility that had raised tensions across their shared neighbourhood.

But the meetings that led to the dramatic breakthrough were not held in the Middle East. They were hosted and mediated by China, after years of unsuccessful attempts by Oman and Iraq.

In the West, China’s central role in keeping Russia’s economy afloat despite sanctions, and Beijing’s unwillingness to even question Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine have drawn sharp criticism.

Yet experts say its newfound success as a peacemaker in the Middle East signals a shift for China, which has traditionally hesitated from involving itself too deeply in efforts to resolve global conflicts.

And it seems to be dreaming big. In February, shortly before the Iran-Saudi talks concluded, Beijing launched its Global Security Initiative, with the aim of “peacefully resolving differences and disputes between countries through dialogue and consultation”.

Then last week, China’s new foreign minister, Qin Gang, said Beijing was ready to mediate peace talks between Israel and Palestine.

The Saudi-Iran deal could serve as China’s “launchpad to future initiatives”, said Julia Gurol-Haller, an associate fellow at the Arnold-Bergstraesser-Institut Freiburg in Germany. It is a declaration that China is ready to play a bigger role than it previously has in mediating conflicts, she said.

All of this comes at a time when the influence of the United States — traditionally the biggest power broker in the Middle East — has waned, according to many analysts. The US decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, its blow-hot-blow-cold relationship with Saudi Arabia, and its long occupation and chaotic withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan have hurt its credibility. Domestic politics have also kept the US distracted, as has a growing wariness among the American public about the country’s decades-long role as a global policeman.

But can China offer the Middle East everything that the US — for all of its failings — has over the years?

The short answer: Despite its fast-rising clout, China still does not have the ability to replace the US in the Middle East, where Washington has dozens of military bases and allies it has committed to defending. But Beijing might not want to take on that responsibility yet in any case, experts say. For now, China can benefit from expanded diplomatic and economic influence while letting the US continue leading on the region’s security concerns.

Advantage China

Well before the Saudi Arabia-Iran deal, China had already established itself as a vital partner to countries in the Middle East.


China is the top trading partner of Saudi Arabia and Iran and is the biggest buyer of oil from the two nations. In recent years, it has further cemented these relationships, signing a 25-year cooperation deal with Iran in 2021 and a comprehensive strategic partnership agreement with Saudi Arabia in 2022.

But that goodwill extends beyond Saudi Arabia and Iran, thanks in no small part to the massive Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) launched in 2013, with the aim of connecting Asia, Europe and Africa through a China-backed network of ports, railways, highways and other infrastructure projects.

China invested more than $273bn in the region between 2005 and 2022. It is the largest investor in the Middle East. It also buys oil from Iraq, gas from Qatar, and exports weapons to Algeria, Morocco, Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. It is helping Egypt build its new capital outside Cairo, and has constructed the metro rail network in Mecca.

In December 2022, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Saudi Arabia for three days, during which he also held Beijing’s first-ever summits with the Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman described the visit as marking “a new historical era” in ties between China and his country.

Meanwhile, China’s rapid advances in cutting-edge tech in recent years mean that Beijing can offer access to services like 5G connectivity through companies like Huawei.

All of this gives China automatic clout in the region, said Trita Parsi, the co-founder and executive vice president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, a Washington-based think tank. This influence has enabled Beijing to succeed with Saudi Arabia and Iran where past negotiators had failed, he said. Countries across the region want to stay in China’s good graces for economic reasons.

Even better, Beijing is viewed as an ideologically neutral trading partner, which has long maintained a policy of non-interference in the domestic issues of Middle Eastern countries, from politics to human rights, making it a less controversial mediator than countries like the US.

It is also not associated with a particular cause like the US’s close relationship with Israel, and has no history of punitive action — whether through military action or sanctions — in the region.

“At the end of the day, a key reason as to why many of these countries have a benign view of China is not just because China doesn’t interfere in their affairs, it’s because they have not seen China conduct itself in a way that would be threatening to them, or that has the potential of being threatening,” Parsi told Al Jazeera.

The US does not enjoy that reputation, even among some of its traditional partners — and the sanctions against Russia over the war in Ukraine have added to the unease in the region’s capitals, he suggested.

“With the United States, they see [it] has the ability to cut Russia off of the international financial system within five days. That is an immensely powerful tool, and the United States has not conducted itself particularly responsibly for the last 20 years,” Parsi said. “So it’s a very powerful tool in the hands of an at-times reckless player. That’s threatening.”

A different kind of power

At the same time that it is setting itself up as a potential alternative to the US in the Middle East, Beijing is not really trying to usurp the position Washington has long held, said Fan Hongda, a professor at the Middle East Studies Institute of Shanghai International Studies University.

China’s power primarily lies in its economic influence and projects like the BRI – and this is something it would be happy to maintain for now in the region, he said.

“China never intended to control the Middle East,” Fan told Al Jazeera. “I don’t think Beijing has any plans to displace the US in the Middle East. Because many actions of the United States in the Middle East are not what China likes. In short, China has its own way of cooperating with Middle Eastern countries.”

China and the US have found themselves on opposite ends of conflicts like the Syrian civil war. Beijing has used its veto at the United Nations Security Council to keep Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad in power. But it has otherwise kept a much lower profile on major conflicts than Washington, DC, and it does not have the same historic track record of carrying out regime change and helping to topple democratically elected leaders. The US has more than three dozen military bases in the Middle East.

To be sure, despite the image it likes to promote of itself as a benign power compared with the US, China has in recent years moved to dramatically upgrade and expand its military capabilities, which it often showcases in its own neighbourhood. In 2017, the People’s Liberation Army built its first overseas military base in Djibouti, near the Strait of Hormuz.

Four years later, the Wall Street Journal reported that China was possibly building a naval base in the United Arab Emirates, a project that was grounded after the US intervened with UAE authorities. Some China watchers say Beijing follows a policy of “first civilian, then military” as it builds up infrastructure like ports, railways, and airports, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Still, Zakiyeh Yazdanshenas, director of the China-Middle East Project at Tehran’s Center for Middle East Strategic Studies, said China’s track record so far showed little appetite for US-style involvement in the region.

“Beijing has neither the ability nor the desire to have a military presence like that of the US in the region, but it does try to expand its influence in the Middle East and especially in the Persian Gulf,” she told Al Jazeera.

Yazdanshenas described China’s aims as threefold: “Ensuring the security of the free flow of energy while imposing the lowest cost on China and at the same time raising its prestige as a responsible international player.”

Limits to influence

But while this can get China quite far, its reluctance to take on the role of “policeman” or security provider could limit its negotiating toolkit in the long run, said Mark Fitzpatrick, an associate fellow for strategy, technology and arms control at the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies.

It also remains to be seen whether China can enforce deals it has mediated with economic guarantees alone, or if it can replicate its recent success beyond Iran and Saudi Arabia – both of which are deeply tied to China through energy sales.

“One issue is whether the Saudi-Iran rapprochement will hold and whether China will be able to enforce it. I think a lot of people have had some doubts about how stable it will be,” Fitzpatrick told Al Jazeera. “There could be something that happens that unravels it again, and China’s economic leverage might not be enough to really enforce it. That’s not saying it’s going to unravel, but it may be that all aspects of the deal may not play out as it hoped.”

For now, China has to walk down a “very long and bumpy” road to peace and avoid becoming embroiled in protracted conflicts, like the US has done many times, Gurol-Haller at the Arnold-Bergstraesser-Institut Freiburg said.

“It’s not clear how China will accompany Iran and Saudi Arabia in walking down the road,” she told Al Jazeera. “The joint statement that was issued after this deal was made does not clarify how the signing parties or China will respond to violation.

“So what happens if Iran breaks its part of the deal? Or what happens if Saudi Arabia does not comply with what it had promised? It’s really not clear how China can react to that and what are the carrots and what are the sticks.”

What is clear, Gurol-Haller said, is that for China in the Middle East, the hard work starts now.

“Mega pastor: If Trump re-elected, Saudis will normalize Israel ties

Pastor Robert Jeffress is a recipient of the Friends of Zion Award.


Published: MAY 4, 2023 20:43

Updated: MAY 5, 2023 05:56

Saudi Arabia and Israel will sign a normalization agreement if Donald Trump is re-elected to the White House, according to one of the former president’s faith advisors, Pastor Robert Jeffress.

“I was in the East Room of the White House when President Trump and Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu introduced the Abraham Accords,” said the Baptist leader, the senior pastor of the 16,000-member First Baptist Church in Dallas, and a Fox News contributor.

“It was amazing to see people from all nations standing up and applauding the president for what he had done,” recalled Jeffress, who also served as an informal advisor to the previous president on faith-based issues and was one of the speakers at the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem in 2018.

“I thought only Donald J. Trump could have pulled this off. Of course, if he is re-elected, you will see similar arrangements.

“Trump is a transactional resident,” Jeffress continued. “He aims to get things done, which made him a successful president.”

What is Jeffress‘ relationship with Israel?

Jeffress was in Israel with 500 viewers of his “Pathway to Victory” Bible TV program. The show reaches around three million people every week. The tour was built around his receiving the Friends of Zion Award on Thursday in Jerusalem.

The award was commissioned by the late President Shimon Peres, who also served as international chairman of Friends of Zion.

Jeffress, who has supported Trump since 2015, told The Jerusalem Post that he was “the most pro-Israel, pro-life, pro-religious liberty president in the history of the United States. And he has done more for Israel than any other president.”

The pastor expressed confidence that the former president would be the Republican nominee and “be elevated” as the 47th president on January 20, 2025.

The Republican primaries are in February 2024.

In all Real Clear Politics polls, Trump is winning significantly. The most recent poll, taken on May 3 by Vanderbilt University and evaluating the 2024 Tennessee Republican Presidential Primary, showed Trump with a 34-point lead over his closest contender, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. The last YouGov poll, taken the day before, showed Trump having a 36-point lead in the general primary.

Since leaving office, Trump has drawn criticism for complaining that American Jews don’t appreciate his efforts for Israel. He also came under fire for hosting white supremacist Nick Fuentes and open antisemite rapper Kanye West at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

Jeffress did not believe these challenges would stop Trump from supporting the Jewish state.

“He is perplexed as to why the American Jewish community seems not to care as much about Israel as perhaps they should,” Jeffress said. “I don’t think that will keep him from doing the right thing. President Trump understands that to be on the right side of Israel is to be on the right side of history – and I might add the right side of God.”

He said that Israel is experiencing existential threats from various sources, and “I think America needs a president who is ready to defend Israel if it should have to deal with the Iranian threat or any other threat to their security.”Jeffress has been called out in the past for making negative comments about people of other faiths.

“Not only do religions like Mormonism, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism – not only do they lead people away from God, they lead people to an eternity of separation from God in hell,” he said during a 2010 lecture, according to Mother Jones.

However, Jeffress told the Post today that “if you believe the Bible as God’s word, then you will be pro-Israel.

“My prayer is that the USA will continue to be on the side of Israel,” he concluded.

“The End of the American Century Begins in the Middle East

By Tom O’Connor On 05/03/23 at 5:00 AM EDT

hinese official communications often echo a phrase of President Xi Jinping’s about „great changes unseen in a century.“ Increasingly that line seems less like propaganda and more like a simple statement of a vast transformation in the world order.

This overhaul, years in the making, is taking the clearest shape right now in the Middle East, a region where the U.S. has devoted many resources in the 21st century. In March, China helped arrange a peace deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia, taking the kind of broker role in the region long held by the U.S. Washington currently has no diplomatic ties with Tehran and relations with Riyadh have grown strained.

„We bluster, we threaten, we menace, we sanction, we send the Marines, we bomb,“ says Chas Freeman, a veteran U.S. diplomat, „but we don’t ever use the arts of persuasion.“

Freeman was principal interpreter for President Richard Nixon on his visit to China in 1972. The trip ultimately resulted in the U.S. recognizing the People’s Republic over Taiwan and the opening of an embassy in Beijing, where Freeman served as deputy chief of mission. Now he tells Newsweek, Washington’s „moment of diplomatic glory“ is long over. „What has happened is that the American ability to coerce is declining,“ he says. „We seem to be approaching the world as though we still have an unchallenged authority that we imagined we did at the end of the Cold War.“

Many nations are pursuing their own paths, sometimes called „strategic autonomy.“ The concept remains a hallmark of India’s non-aligned foreign policy, even as it improves relations with the U.S. It is also gaining traction with once-close U.S. friends such as Saudi Arabia, and has appeared in comments by French President Emmanuel Macron following his April visit to Beijing.


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Freeman, who once served as U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, says, „The world is changing; the kaleidoscope is in motion. We’re trying to put all the pieces in place,“ he says. „The basic aim of our foreign policy is retention of primacy, which is impossible. Nothing is forever. No great power is always supreme forever.“

„It’s not just that the Pax Americana, the American Century, which turned out to be about 50 years long, is over,“ he adds, „but the 500 years of Euro-Atlantic global ascendancy are over.“

A Non-Hostile Takeover

China has long been positioning itself to take advantage of the shift. „Since the reform and opening up in the late 1970s, China has been developing and deepening relations with other countries on the basis of mutual benefit and respect for each other,“ Hongda Fan, a leading Chinese expert and professor at Shanghai International Studies University’s Middle East Studies Institute, tells Newsweek.

„China has not actively provoked conflicts with other countries for decades,“ Fan adds. „This leaves China with few enemies in the world, and also enables China to obtain a good external development environment.“

Although China has several territorial disputes with key neighbors, the People’s Republic has emerged as the top trading partner of nearly 130 countries. It has promoted its economic and diplomatic clout across the Global South, including Africa and Latin America, through ventures such as Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative, a network of infrastructure projects spanning nearly 150 countries.

Courting the Middle East has proven to be particularly valuable for China, the world’s number one oil importer. Iran and Saudi Arabia both want spots in trade and security blocs BRICS Plus and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Their membership could give Beijing the ability to withstand a potential U.S. sanctions campaign like the one levied against Russia over its war in Ukraine.

Oil was at the heart of the post-World War II strategic partnership forged by the U.S. with Saudi Arabia. The pact outlasted Arab-Israeli wars, an ensuing 1970s OPEC boycott and 9/11, in which 11 of 15 Al-Qaeda hijackers were Saudi nationals. The U.S. was also willing to overlook alleged human rights abuses by Saudi Arabia. But President Joe Biden’s branding of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as a „pariah,“ together with reduced U.S. aid to a Saudi-led war effort in Yemen and attempts to revive a nuclear deal with Iran, have opened a substantial rift with Riyadh.

Meanwhile, few Middle Eastern and Muslim countries have joined the U.S. in condemning China’s treatment of its mostly Muslim Uyghur minority. And as the U.S. has moved to end its „forever wars“ to focus on the challenge posed by China, a Middle East left divided and in disarray continues to seek assistance.

„The United States has indeed ignored the urgent needs of the Middle East countries for development,“ Fan says, „or did not pay enough attention to it.“

„Washington needs to understand that such challenges come not only from China, but also from many other countries,“ Fan adds. „More and more countries, including China, hope to control their own destiny and hope to see a multipolar world.“

‚The World Has Changed‘

In Saudi Arabia’s case, this means translating energy influence into geopolitical capital. This shift has been met with wariness by Washington, where Biden warned of „consequences“ after Riyadh defied U.S. calls to increase oil production and instead joined fellow OPEC Plus states, including Iran and Russia, in cutting output last October.

Mohammad al-Sabban, former senior adviser to the Saudi energy minister, tells Newsweek, „The United States continues to think that it is the only pole in the world, and that is untrue.“

„The world has become multipolar. There is China, there is Russia, there is the United States, there is the European Union and also there is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.“

It’s not just oil that fuels Saudi clout. Saudi Arabia has unique status across the Muslim world as custodian of Islam’s two holiest sites, and the Kingdom, the fastest growing of the world’s major economies, is a leading member of the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

Meanwhile the Kingdom is also undergoing an internal transformation. While Riyadh long clung to tradition and embraced fundamentalist Islamism, Crown Prince Mohammed has tied his legacy as the country’s future king to modernization, cultivating a national identity beyond religion. The U.S. once approved of this metamorphosis but has grown increasingly suspicious.

Sabban says the U.S.‘ „pursuit of commanding and unilateral policies“ will „not pass with any nation, any nation that respects its sovereignty and that respects itself.“ He adds, „The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia makes its decisions according to its interests, especially economic and political. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia does not care about any other opinions or the opinions that are imposed on it.“

Sabban links the country’s economic and geopolitical „diversification“ directly to Crown Prince Mohammed’s „Vision 2030“ strategy and argues, „Everyone must respect the interests of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, just as we respect the interests of others.“ He warns, „No country should interfere in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia making its decisions in the international arena.“

‚A Profound Reassessment‘

Some diplomats worry that recent events in the Middle East and elsewhere, 30 years after the fall of the Soviet Union, show the U.S., for all its military, financial and cultural power, has lost its appeal to much of the world. Jack Matlock, the last U.S. ambassador to the USSR, says, „The example we are offering the world today is not as attractive as it might have been in 1991.“

Matlock, who began his tenure in the Foreign Service in 1956, tells Newsweek China’s success asserting itself around the world, „should inspire a profound reassessment leading to a change of course“ in Washington.

Today, U.S. communication with top adversaries has reached an all-time low. Meanwhile, China pursues a growing list of geopolitical goals, Russia wages war in Ukraine with no end in sight, Iran rebuilds ties with rivals and North Korea accelerates nuclear weapons development. Sanctions, the mainstay of U.S. diplomatic action, have so far done little to dissuade foes.

While Washington has portrayed the world as a struggle between democracies and authoritarians (in which vital partners such as Saudi Arabia do not fit comfortably), Matlock says „ideology and form of government should not matter.“

„To have a peaceful, prosperous world able to cope with unprecedented challenges such as environmental degradation, terrorism and violence of all types, massive flows of population, the threat of pandemics and the avoidance of nuclear war or use of other weapons of mass destruction, we need to deal with all countries with respect,“ he says.

He warns that, much like the doomed Soviet Union, the U.S. approach relies on the outdated belief „that the U.S. had the knowledge and power to transform the world if only it used its military and economic dominance to change other societies.“

This line of thinking, Matlock argues, propagates the notion „that ‚we won the Cold War,‘ that the break-up of the USSR marked the end of the Cold War and Russia was the defeated party, and that the collapse of the Communist system proved that capitalism and ‚democracy‘ were the inevitable future of mankind, that nuclear weapons made us invincible, and therefore our leadership was necessary for transforming the world.“

„These were false assumptions,“ he argues, „and impossible goals.“

§Thu, May 04, 2023 page1

NATO planning to open Japan office to deepen relations

  • The Guardian

NATO is reportedly planning to open a liaison office in Japan to coordinate with close partners across the Indo-Pacific region including Australia, South Korea and New Zealand.

The plans are likely to attract criticism from the Chinese government, which has previously warned the Western alliance against extending “its tentacles to the Asia-Pacific.”

Nikkei Asia yesterday reported that NATO and Japan plan to upgrade their cooperation on tackling cyberthreats, disinformation, and emerging and disruptive technologies.

NATO’s planned new liaison office in Tokyo — to open next year — would be the first of its kind in Asia and would allow the military alliance to conduct periodic consultations with Japan and key partners, such as Australia, Nikkei Asia reported.

The move would be consistent with NATO’s increasing interest in developments in the Indo-Pacific. In its “strategic concept,” unveiled last year, NATO said that China posed “systemic challenges” to Euro-Atlantic security, even though Russia remained “the most significant and direct threat to allies’ security.”

NATO vowed to “strengthen dialogue and cooperation with new and existing partners in the Indo-Pacific to tackle cross-regional challenges and shared security interests.”

NATO accused China of carrying out “malicious hybrid and cyberoperations” and “remaining opaque about its strategy, intentions and military buildup.”

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has accepted an invitation to travel to the next NATO summit in Vilnius in July.

“Australia shares with NATO members a commitment to supporting democracy, peace and security, and upholding the rule of law,” a spokesperson for Albanese said last month.

“Japan should brace for ‘leaderless era’ as U.S. turns inward, adviser to PM says


November 10, 2020 at 17:22 JST

A prominent economic adviser to Japan’s prime minister says Tokyo should prepare for a “leaderless era” as U.S. global leadership gradually withers and expand other strategic ties while bolstering its security alliance with Washington.

The prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, wasted little time in congratulating presumptive U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, despite President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede, saying he wanted to strengthen the alliance and ensure peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.

But concerns about America’s inward turn have simmered in Japan for years, intensifying in the face of China’s growing military and economic assertiveness and persisting during the Trump presidency despite comparatively warm ties between the outgoing U.S. leader and Suga’s predecessor, Shinzo Abe.

For Suga adviser Takeshi Niinami, chief executive of drinks giant Suntory Holdings Ltd and a well-known regular on the international business circuit, Biden’s promises to restore U.S. ties with international institutions and allies are welcome.

But Niinami expects U.S. influence to keep waning relative to China, as Biden faces deep domestic divisions in America after the election, so Japan must widen its push for multiple partnerships.

“We have to put a footprint in ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries and India,” he told Reuters in an interview, while at the same time “we must explore further relations with the United States in the security space.”

In a separate statement issued soon after Biden’s election victory, Niinami said, “I believe it is inevitable that U.S. global leadership will wither in the long term.

“Japan must continue deepening the U.S.-Japan alliance but at the same time establish its relationship with the world in order to ready itself for a leaderless era,” said Niinami.


Worries about declining U.S. global influence are not new, but former diplomat Kunihiko Miyake, a foreign policy adviser to Suga, agreed Biden could not “run away” from a trend toward U.S. “neo-isolationism.”

“Orthodoxy is back in Washington and we welcome that, but everything is relative and we need more like-minded nations, not only the United States but also other neighbors in the Indo-Pacific region,” Miyake said.

In a clear sign of Japan’s aim to expand its network of strategic ties, Suga’s first overseas trip after taking office in September was to Vietnam and Indonesia, where he reached agreements to bolster defense ties.

That followed Tokyo’s hosting of the Quad grouping of the United States, Australia, Japan and India, which proponents see as a bulwark against Beijing’s influence. China has denounced the Quad group as a “mini-NATO” aimed at its containment.

Japan must balance its deep economic ties with China with its concerns about Beijing’s military assertiveness and worries about such matters as cybersecurity and intellectual property protection that it shares with Washington.

Hawks in Suga’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) want a tougher line on China, but a government source said Suga, a relative novice on foreign policy, was still feeling his way.

Some conservatives in Japan worry Biden may adopt a softer line toward Beijing than Trump, but others expect little substantive change.

“The way the U.S. describes China (under Biden) might change but the general direction is the same–to make China a responsible partner and competitor,” said a Japanese government source, speaking on condition of anonymity.

China’s small steps on offshore use of yuan are starting to add up


April 28, 2023 at 15:40 JST

SINGAPORE–China’s yuan currency is slowly but surely being adopted for more international payments, which analysts say could lay foundations for a trade system running parallel to the dominant U.S. dollar.

In the past day alone, data showed that more cross-border transactions with China were settled in yuan in March than in dollars for the first time, and that Argentina said it aims to regularly pay for Chinese goods in yuan and not dollars.

While the dollar dominates world trade settlements, the news comes amid a steady drumbeat of more and more bilateral deals arranging yuan payments with China–from Chinese oil purchases in the Middle East to trade with partners from Brazil to Russia.

True global yuan adoption is unlikely, given expectations that Beijing will want to keep a tight grip on the currency. But incremental progress is already fashioning a new trade architecture and is gaining pace, particularly as Russia’s expulsion from much of the West’s payment systems has accelerated the development of alternatives.

“The world’s largest commodity exporters and importers–China, Russia and Brazil–are now working together on using renminbi for cross-border payments,” said Chi Lo, senior investment strategist at BNP Paribas Asset Management in Hong Kong.

“Their cooperation could draw other countries to renminbi payments over time and cumulatively, this group could lift the renminbi at the expense of the dollar,” he said.

China has long sought to increase the yuan’s undersized 2.2% share of global payments, but seemingly without being willing to open its capital accounts and allow the sort of free-flowing movement that makes dollars, euros and yen so convenient.

Russia’s war on Ukraine, and the resulting Western sanctions, has given substance to the push. Suddenly, Russia has come from virtually nowhere to become the fourth-largest yuan-trading hub outside China.

The yuan’s share of Russia’s currency market has leapt to 40% to 45%, from less than 1% at the start of last year. Its share of world trade financing, according to SWIFT, has increased to 4.5% in February from 1.3% two years ago. The dollar’s is 84%.

“It will not replace the U.S. dollar globally, but it is already starting to replace the dollar in some of China’s trade relationships,” said Gerard DiPippo and Andrea Leonard Palazzi, economists at Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies, in an article last week.

“This kind of renminbi internationalization may achieve Beijing’s goals, including reducing China’s exposure to exchange rate fluctuations and mitigating China’s vulnerabilities to U.S. financial sanctions.”


World trade flows are dominated by dollars, euros, sterling and yen because those currencies are freely available and connected to open economies in ways the capital-controlled yuan is not. To be sure, there are no signs that is changing.

“In most trades, importers have a comparative advantage in determining the terms of trades, such as pricing and settlement currency,” says Zhang Yu, chief macro analyst at Huachuang Securities in Beijing.

“Therefore, if exporters want to use yuan to settle trades, they must persuade foreign importers to pay in yuan, which often takes a long time.”

China itself needs time to create depth in a limited pool of yuan outside its shores, which is less easy for Beijing to control.

“For yuan usage to grow in scale it may take 10 years or longer,” says Andre Wheeler, chief executive of supply chain, trade risk consultancy Wheeler Management Consulting based in Australia.

“If they were to try to change Australia iron ore trades to be settled in yuan, I don’t think China would be able to cope with that scale.”

Yet the yuan offers other attractions to China’s trading partners. In Argentina’s case, buying goods in yuan saves draining dwindling dollar reserves. More broadly, each new adopter adds to a currency system’s depth and usefulness.

“One of the many reasons for using the dollar is what we call network effects,” said Michael Pettis, senior fellow at Carnegie China.

“The more of us that use it, the cheaper it becomes to use and the more efficient it becomes to use,” he said.

“By trying to force more and more of its trade into renminbi, Beijing is trying to create network effects that will make use of the renminbi for trade that much easier and with lower frictional costs.”

“INTERVIEW/ Egypt president willing to work with Japan for Sudan cease-fire


May 2, 2023 at 14:12 JST

Photo/Illutration Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi responds to questions from Yoshiaki Kasuga, left, The Asahi Shimbun foreign news editor. (Provided by Egyptian presidential office)

CAIRO–Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi wants to work with Japan to bring about a cease-fire in neighboring conflict-ridden Sudan but said his nation would not intervene. 

Sisi made the comments in an exclusive 70-minute interview with The Asahi Shimbun here on April 29. It is rare for the Egyptian president to meet with foreign media in Egypt.

The interview took place ahead of a meeting between Sisi and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. Egypt was the first stop on Kishida’s four-nation tour of Africa.

Regarding the fighting between warring factions in Sudan, Sisi said, “Many Sudanese are fleeing to Egypt and we are facing difficulties.”

Pointing to the fact that Japan is hosting this year’s Group of Seven summit, Sisi said he wanted to cooperate in working for a cease-fire in Sudan as well as a transition to a civilian government.

He said that Egypt had already taken in between 8 million and 9 million refugees not only from Sudan, but other war-torn nations, including Libya, Syria and Yemen.

Noting the global economic difficulties brought about by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Sisi said, “If we were to accept even more Sudanese, Egypt will definitely feel the effects.”

Fighting broke out from April 15 between the Sudan military and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a militia group that also receives backing from the Sudan government.

Filippo Grandi, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, said on April 29 that there were more than 50,000 Sudanese refugees who have fled the fighting to Egypt, Chad and other neighboring nations.

An Egyptian foreign ministry official said that about 14,000 Sudanese refugees had entered Egypt by April 27.

“We will provide support for dialogue among the Sudanese in order to end the fighting, establish a temporary civilian government and hold elections,” Sisi said. “Since Japan is a G-7 member, our efforts should be toward those goals.”

Because Sudan was jointly controlled by Britain and Egypt before becoming independent, there had been speculation that Egypt might intervene as the fighting intensified.

But Sisi said, “We will not interfere in the domestic politics of other nations because we do not want to further complicate the situation.”

He also indicated that Egypt would continue to take a neutral stance regarding the fighting between Russia and Ukraine, adding that it would be important to pursue a peaceful solution there.

He said Egypt and many other developing nations had been affected economically by the Russian invasion through a food crisis and surging consumer prices.

Sisi also expressed strong interest in strengthening cooperation with Japan and said he wanted Japanese companies to become involved in the economic zone along the Suez Canal.

After the April 30 meeting between Kishida and Sisi, a joint news conference was held in which Kishida said he informed the Egyptian president of Japan’s willingness to provide humanitarian support to Sudanese refugees fleeing to neighboring nations.

Excerpts of the interview follow:

Question: What effects to this region are arising because of the fighting in neighboring Sudan between the military and the RSF?

Sisi: The entire region could be affected. We are making our best effort to bring about discussions between the military and the RSF. We also cannot make the issue even more complicated, so we are being careful about not interfering in their domestic matters. Our efforts are for the creation of a transitional government until elections can be held and civilian government inaugurated.

Q: What are your concerns about more refugees from Sudan?

Sisi: There are already millions of Sudanese in Egypt, but we refer to them not as refugees but guests. There are between 8 million and 9 million guests from Libya, Syria, Yemen and other African nations. Amid the economic difficulties stemming from the Russian invasion of Ukraine, many Sudanese have fled so Egypt is also facing problems. We are already experiencing high inflation and the prices of daily necessities are surging.

Q: What form of support are you looking for from the international community?

Sisi: We hope for support that will stabilize Syria, Yemen, Libya and Sudan. Once the situation stabilizes, those who fled their nations will return (home). I want to hold a frank exchange of views with Prime Minister Kishida to confirm what we can do.

Q: What are your views about the dramatic changes occurring in the Middle East, such as the normalization of relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran?

Sisi: There has been more than 10 years of instability in this region and many people have suffered as a result. We have come to believe that the only appropriate option for our foreign policy is an alleviation of tension and reconciliation. Egyptian diplomacy does not meddle in the domestic politics of other nations, but has consistently been one of strategic patience to wait for an improvement in the situation.

Q: How do you view the efforts by China to mediate the normalization of ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran?

Sisi: I believe any good intention to find a resolution to the various issues of the world is a good thing. We welcome such contributions from China, Japan and the United States. We are also hoping for an early resolution of the crisis involving Russia and Ukraine so peace can return. We will support any nation that can contribute to that resolution.

Q: Why are so many nations in the so-called Global South, including Egypt, taking a neutral stance toward the invasion of Ukraine?

Sisi: There is a need to pursue a peaceful resolution of the issue between Russia and Ukraine. I have called on the international community to find a political and diplomatic resolution to end the fighting. I will also inform Prime Minister Kishida about our intention.

Q: What are your expectations for Japan?

Sisi: I have continued with an effort to introduce Japan’s educational system to Egypt and so far that has been implemented at about 50 schools. We plan to further expand those measures. I want many Japanese companies to participate in the economic zone of the Suez Canal, a key hub of international trade.

(This article was written by Yoshiaki Kasuga and Eishiro Takeishi.

Before the Ukraine war, Ian Brzezinski had proposed a further development of NATO, which also projects power to Asia, especially with a NATO-China Council. At that time Trump was still in power and such a vision was rather unlikely. After the Ukraine war and Putin’s close relationship with Xi, now probably too, even if some elements via Quad, AUKUS and others could still be valid. In a programmatic article „NATO’s role in a transatlantic strategy on China“ of Monday 1 June 2020 in the Atlantic Council’s New Atlanticist, Ian Brzezinski proposed the following measures at the time:

„When considering this issue, it is important to recognize that the foundation for a relevant NATO role in a transatlantic China strategy has long been established. For decades, the Alliance has been operating around the world. NATO has led the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan since 2003. Its naval forces have patrolled against pirates off the shores of Africa, commencing with operation OCEAN SHIELD in 2008. As a member of the Coalition to Defeat ISIS, NATO provides training to military establishments across the Middle East. And, on a daily basis the Alliance addresses terrorism, cyber-threats, disinformation, and other global issues.

„Most relevant to addressing China are the Alliance’s long-standing relationships with key democracies of the Indo-Pacific region. NATO established Global Partnerships with Korea, New Zealand, and Mongolia in 2012, Australia in 2013, and Japan in 2014. These relationships are predominantly consultative, but most of these partners have contributed to NATO missions, including in Afghanistan.

As the transatlantic community’s lead instrument for security collaboration, NATO can contribute to the former’s relationship with China in three important ways. As a multinational security forum, it can foster among NATO allies and partners a shared awareness of China’s capacities and activities that generate risk to and opportunity for the North Atlantic community. NATO has long served as an important forum through which its Allies and partners share intelligence data and assessments needed to foster and facilitate collaborative action.

Second, NATO can help develop and promulgate a transatlantic security strategy and posture regarding China. That strategy’s objectives should include the development of a cooperative relationship with China as well the dissuasion of China from undermining the interests of the transatlantic community. The latter would define the appropriate role and means for the Alliance to contribute to deterrence and when necessary defense against Chinese aggression that imperil those interests.

Third, NATO’s civilian and military capacities should be used to facilitate the defense and security component of a Western strategy addressing China—including in the tasks of engagement, deterrence, and defense.

The following are five actions NATO could undertake as part of its approach to China, none of which would require it to undertake a significant reprioritization of its current mission sets and all of which would support the aforementioned:

The Alliance should offer to establish a NATO-China Council. This would mirror the NATO-Russia Council whose roots date back to 1997. Its establishment would recognize and respond to the realty of China’s growing influence and reach. This forum would spur Alliance members to more seriously and comprehensively address in a coordinated manner the challenges posed by China. Its establishment would underscore that this dimension of great power competition is not between China and the United States but between China and the transatlantic community, one bound by shared values, interests, and history. And this forum could be used to identify and foster opportunities for constructive collaboration with China, such as counter-piracy operations.

Second, NATO should deepen its engagement with its Pacific partners, Australia, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, Japan, and Mongolia. The consultative dimension of these relationships should be complemented with more regular and more robust military exercises (especially air, maritime, and special forces exercises) and operations, including those designed to ensure freedom of navigation. Such events under the NATO flag would be a useful complement to US maritime and air exercisers in the Pacific that have long featured the participation of European allies. Past US RIMPAC exercise series, for example, have included military aircraft, ships and staffs from Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands Norway, and the United Kingdom. In less tense times, China even participated in RIMPAC events.

Third, the Alliance should establish in the Indo-Pacific, perhaps in one of the region’s partner countries, a Center of Excellence (COE) and integrate officers and NCOs from selected partners into the Alliance’s Command Structure. Both initiatives would help increase the Alliance’s understanding of the Indo-Pacific region, institutionalize its presence in the region, and deepen these partners’ familiarization with NATO missions, structures, and protocols.

The Alliance should also establish a small military headquarters element in the Indo-Pacific region, perhaps embedded in the COE or in United States Pacific Command to help facilitate and coordinate NATO exercises and operations. It, too, could contribute to Alliance’s awareness of developments in the region and, if the opportunity emerges, Alliance collaboration with China.

These initiatives will take effort to launch and execute. Some allies will balk at adding additional missions to NATO and their own military forces when resources are already strained. But the aforementioned will not generate onerous costs and can build upon European, US, and Canadian military operations in the Pacific that are already the norm.

Moreover, European attitudes toward China have significantly hardened. Eighteen months ago, many Europeans were content to regard China as an economic partner, notwithstanding its authoritarian political system and aggressive conduct in the Pacific. That has since changed as Europe has experienced with increasing frequency Beijing’s diplomatic and economic belligerence toward those that criticize its actions and policies. In March 2019 the European Union formally described China as a “strategic competitor,” “an economic competitor,” and “a systemic rival promoting alternative models of governance.” Beijing pugnacious conduct during the coronavirus pandemic has only reinforced this new European perspective.

Beijing will likely balk at the offer of a NATO-China council as it will oppose an increased NATO presence in the Indo-China, especially one that fosters deeper political-military collaboration among the region’s democracies. Even NATO Partners in Asia may balk at elevating their relations with NATO out of a desire to avoid further complicating relations with China.

NATO may have to initiate its China strategy on its own, leveraging the territories Allies control in the Indo-Pacific and conducting its own operations and exercises in the region. That will demonstrate the commitment and determination necessary to earn the confidence and support of its partners for a more active Alliance presence in the region. China will then also be likely to demur, realizing that having regular communication with the world’s most powerful military alliance can be important means to avoid conflict, promote peace, and facilitate mutually useful cooperation.

A NATO strategy for China alone will be not a sufficient solution to the West’s increasingly tense relationship with Beijing. A coherent and effective transatlantic strategy for China will have to be comprehensive, one that leverages the full complement of diplomatic, economic, technological, social, and military capabilities and dynamics that define geopolitical power. For it to have maximum success it will have to combine the capacities of both Europe and North America and be reinforced through collaboration with community’s democratic partners in the Indo-Pacific. „

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