Right from the beginning of human civilization, “power” has had been playing vital role in the formation of a tribe, society or a country. The lust to gain more power has been the hallmark of modern political history too. Country needs to have power in order to counter the greater power “Dracula” and that merciless process goes on and on. Conflicting geo-political demands and geo-strategic compulsions use to force countries to search a “Safe Heaven” on earth. In the game of power principles have no meaning and matter of “Survival” dictates the songs of democracy, human rights, justice, global brotherhood, and the last not the least international peace. It is bitter reality that power does justify all the ill intentions and wrong doings of a power-holder. In the rapidly changing regional and global geo-political and geo-strategic scenarios the risen “Economic Power” China, the “Old Lion” Russia and “Troubled and Next Target” of USA i.e. Iran are becoming closer and closer not merely to boast their respective economies but to counter the predominance military existence of USA in the region.
Regional And Global Reaction Towards Unilateral Superpower Phobia Of USA
In the every corner of the world, people and countries alike are afraid of the unilateral superpower phobia of USA. From Bulgaria to Romania, Azerbaijan to, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan to Turkey, Georgia to, Algeria and Nigeria to Afghanistan and the last not the least Iraq the hectic military deployment and establishment of new bases of the USA especially after the 9/11 has created colossal geo-political and geo-strategic changes. The most significant of these changes is the emergence of possible new geo-political and geo-strategic triangle of China, Iran and Russia.
Growing Geo-Political and Geo-Strategic Alliance Between China and Russia
The ties between Beijing and Moscow are on the rise. It got momentum in the past 18 months, which is of course an important geo-political and geo-strategic development in the region mostly unnoticed in the west. Wen Jiabao the prime minister of China visited Russia in September 2004. In October 2004, Vladimir Putin the President of Russia visited China. It has now recognized in international power politics that Sino-Russian relations have reached unparalleled heights, which is supposed to be potential geo-strategic threat to US expansionist policy. Long-standing territorial issues between the two countries have been settled amicably. Both of the countries agreed to hold joint military exercises in 2005. That stages the first large-scale military exercises between Russia and China since 1958. The joint military exercises complement a rapidly growing arms trade between Moscow and Beijing. China is Russia’s largest buyer of military equipment. In 2004, China was reported to have signed deals worth more than $2 billion for Russian arms. These included naval ships and submarines, missile systems and aircraft. In the past five years, non-military trade between Russia and China has increased at an average annual rate of nearly 20%. Moscow and Beijing have targeted non-military trade to reach $60 billion by 2010, from $20 billion in 2004.
Economic Cooperation Between China and Russia
According to latest available economic data, ninety-five percent of Russia’s exports to China are energy resources, while China’s exports to Russia primarily are value-added industrial products. Both countries can extend the bilateral trade from today’s US$20 billion to $80 billion per year. In early 2005, Moscow agreed to more than double electricity exports to China, to 800 million kilowatt hours kWh, by 2006. In October 2004, the China National Petroleum Corporation [CNPC] and Russia’s Gazprom signed a series of agreements intended to study how Russia can best supply natural gas to China. At the same time, Russia signed specific agreements with China on oil exports.
Russia’s oil shipments to China are slated to reach 10 million tons in 2005, increasing to 15 million tons in 2006. All of these shipments will be made by rail. However, this agreement was overshadowed by talks concerning the construction of an oil pipeline from Siberia to northern China. Russia has been pondering an oil pipeline to China for nearly 10 years. In 2002, plans for this pipeline received a boost when Moscow pledged to invest $2 billion in an oil pipeline running from the Siberian city of Angarsk to Daqing in northeastern China.
Enhanced Geo-Political and Geo-Strategic Ties between China and Iran
Iran and China stand at the center of Middle Eastern and East Asian international subsystems where influence reverberates across the globe. The U.S. condemnation of Iran and China has resulted in both intra-regional and interregional alliances featuring Iran and China at the center of concentric circles of countries that resent and resist U.S. hegemony.
Beijing and Tehran signed a mega pipeline project of worth $100 billion in 2003-04. Billed as the "deal of century" by various commentators, this agreement is likely to increase by another $50 billion to $100 billion, bringing the total close to $200 billion, when a similar oil agreement, currently being negotiated, is inked not too far from now. In March 2004, China’s state-owned oil trading company, Zhuhai Zhenrong Corporation, signed a 25-year deal to import 110 million tons of liquefied natural gas [LNG] from Iran. This was followed by a much larger deal between another of China’s state-owned oil companies, Sinopec, and Iran, signed in October 2004. This deal, worth about $100 billion, allows China to import a further 250 million tons of LNG from Iran’s Yadavaran oilfield over a 25-year period. In addition to LNG, the Yadavaran deal provides China with 150,000 barrels per day of crude oil over the same period. United States increasingly pointing at China as the next biggest challenge to its Pax Americana, the Iran-China energy cooperation cannot but be interpreted as an ominous sign of emerging new trends in an area considered vital to US national interests.
The huge deal also enlists substantial Chinese investment in Iranian energy exploration, drilling and production as well as in petrochemical and natural gas infrastructure. Total Chinese investment targeted toward Iran’s energy sector could exceed a further $100 billion over 25 years. At the end of 2004, China became Iran’s top oil export market. Apart from the oil and natural gas delivery contracts, the massive investment being undertaken by China’s state-owned oil companies in Iran’s energy sector contravenes the US Iran-Libya Sanctions Act. This law penalizes foreign companies for investing more than $20 million in either Libya or Iran.
Decisive Factors Behind the Emergence of Possible Triangular among China, Russia and Iran
Since the beginning of the war in Iraq, China has worked agitatedly to strengthen its ties with Moscow and Teheran in a systematic attempt to check the increasing unwanted military influence and presence of US in the region. In addition to recent massive energy deals with Teheran, which place Iran in China’s security web, both Beijing and Moscow have accelerated the transfer of missile technology to Teheran. China’s increasingly close ties with Moscow and Tehran will thwart Washington’s foreign policy goal of expanding US security footholds in the Middle East, Central Asia and Asia.
Emerging Geo-Political and Geo-Strategic Friendship Between Russia and Iran
Despite U.S. preferences, Russia has entered into numerous political, economic, military and cultural agreements with Iran. Russian cooperation with Iran in the fields of nuclear energy, military weaponry, and trade and commerce has been roundly criticized by the United States. In this instance, Washington has failed to change either Iranian or Russian behavior. Instead, the opposite trend continues to develop. The more pressure exerted by the United States, the closer Russia moves toward Iran.
Land Mark Visit of Iranian President to Russia
In March 2001, Iranian president Muhammad Khatami made a landmark trip to Russia, where the two countries established an unprecedented number of new bilateral agreements. Khatami was the first Iranian leader to visit Moscow since before the revolution, and he did so at the express invitation of President Vladimir Putin. President Khatami’s visit resulted in a Russian promise to complete the Busehr nuclear power plant and to provide Iran with advanced conventional weapons. The United States complained sharply to Russia about the transfer of military technology to Iran. Iran and Russia responded by pointing out that the agreements were in the best interests of the region because they would help build stability in the Persian Gulf. Given the strengthening relations between Iran and important world actors such as Russia and China, the United States has found itself increasingly alone.
Military and Nuclear Cooperation Between Russia and Iran
Moscow, has supplied Tehran with advanced missiles and missile technology since the mid-1980s. In addition to anti-ship missiles like the Silkworm, China has sold Iran surface-to-surface cruise missiles and, along with Russia, assisted in the development of Iran’s long-range ballistic missiles. This assistance included the development of Iran’s Shihab-3 and Shihab-4 missiles, with a range of about 2,000 kilometers. Iran is also reportedly developing missiles with ranges approaching 3,000 kilometers. After much wrangling and repeated US intervention, Russia and Iran finally signed, in February 2005 a deal clearing the way for the shipment of Russian nuclear fuel to Iran’s nuclear power plant at Bushehr. Washington’s primary concern about Bushehr is the intended use of the plant’s spent nuclear fuel. This fuel can be discarded, reprocessed, or used in the manufacture of weapons-grade plutonium. In an effort to assure Washington that the last of these three possibilities will not come to pass, Moscow has promised that all the spent fuel from Bushehr will be returned to Russia.
China was also believed to be producing several new types of guided anti-ship missiles for Iran in 2004. China and Russia’s sales of missiles and missile technology as well as missile development assistance contravene the US-Iran non-proliferation act of 2000. This act specifically states that sanctions will be "imposed on countries whose companies provide assistance to Iran in its efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction and missile delivery systems.
The most compelling aspect of this alliance is revealed in China’s and Russia’s support for Iran’s much-maligned nuclear energy program. The Putin has consistently maintained that Russia would not support UN Security Council resolutions that condemn Iran’s nuclear energy program or apply economic sanctions against Iran. Beijing has echoed Moscow’s opposition to UN action against Iran. After concluding the historic gas and oil deal between China and Iran in October 2004, China’s Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing announced that China would not support UN Security Council action against Iran’s nuclear energy program. Opposition in Moscow and Beijing to UN action against Iran is significant because both countries hold UN Security Council veto power.
Possible Consequences Of Emerging Triangular, China, Russia And Iran and USA
The endorsement of Tehran’s nuclear energy program by Moscow and Beijing is supposed to be resultant of the China-Iran-Russia geo-political and geo-strategic triangular, which is to counter US “unilateralism” and global “hegemonic intentions”. By that systematic action China and Russia wants to minimize US influence in Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. The joint statement issued at the conclusion of Putin’s state visit to China in October 2004 was a clear indication of Beijing and Moscow’s detestation of the Bush administration’s unilateral foreign policy. Meanwhile the United States has tightened its control of the Middle East, Central Asia, Southeast Asia and Northeast Asia. It testifies that Washington’s anti-terror campaign has already gone beyond the scope of self-defense.
Along with energy trade, investment and economic development, the China-Iran-Russia alliance has cultivated compatible foreign policies. China, Iran and Russia have identical foreign policy positions regarding Taiwan and Chechnya. China and Iran fully support the Putin government’s war against the Chechen separatists. Russia and Iran support Beijing’s one-China policy. The recent promulgation of China’s anti-secession law, aimed at making Beijing’s intolerance of Taiwanese independence explicit, was heartily commended in both Moscow and Tehran.
Democratization of Middle East and Views of China, Russia and Iran
To China and Russia, Washington’s democratic reform program is a thinly disguised method for the US to militarily dispose of unfriendly regimes in order to ensure the country’s primacy as the world’s sole superpower. The China-Iran-Russia alliance can be considered as Beijing’s and Moscow’s counterpunch to Washington’s global ambitions. From this perspective, Iran is integral to thwarting the Bush administration’s foreign policy goals. This is precisely why Beijing and Moscow have strengthened their economic and diplomatic ties with Tehran. It is also why Beijing and Moscow are providing Tehran with increasingly sophisticated weapons.
Similarities among China, Russia and Iran
On the road to their respective national histories, all the countries has had been trapped by USA. Nominally democratic Russia, Communist China and so-called militantly Muslim Iran have more in common than is generally assumed. They are close Asian neighbors. China and Iran share borders with Russia. China, Russia and Iran can move swiftly. Currently, three countries are experiencing an economic upturn. Iran from its immense oil resources, China from its booming economy and Russia with its economy foundering portray an ideal geo-political and geo-strategic triangular. Russia has technology and military weapons that China and Iran lack and are willing to spend their cash to obtain. The three are being drawn into a common demand-and-supply partnership. Above all, they share resentment and fear of the United States.
Great Power Game is on
In the game of power nothing is for granted. One has to enjoy the out coming of power phenomena and be ready to face all the short and long terms geo-political and geo-strategic consequences. Deepening economic and security among China, Iran and Russia could eventually reduce Washington’s influence in the region to Afghanistan and Central Asia. To counter the increasing geo-strategic alliances in the region Washington plans on building another six military bases in Central Asia, further amplifying the US military threat to China, Russia and Iran. East Asia is another region where the China-Iran-Russia alliance/triangular has common interests diametrically opposed to Washington’s. North Korea is happy on the emergence of new geo-political and geo-strategic triangular in the region. The mutual antagonism by Iran and North Korea of the US has naturally brought these two countries together. North Korea has been an integral supplier to Iran’s ballistic missile program over the past 15 years.
More importantly, Pyongyang and Beijing are tied together by a mutual security agreement. North Korea is an important security buffer for both China and Russia against US military projection in Asia. With Beijing and Moscow clearly in accord about countering Washington’s global hegemonic aspirations, neither country is likely to sell out their relations with North Korea and this security buffer. More likely, Beijing and Moscow would like to bolster the security buffer in the light of expanding US militarism.
Beginning of Counter-Offensive Power Game of China and Russia against USA
In 2004, Russia and China launched a counter-offensive to the expansion of US militarism in Asia. Beijing and Moscow began to court Latin America’s New Leftist governments. Both China and Russia have strengthened relations with Venezuela a new enemy of USA. In November 2004, Moscow agreed to sell Caracas as many as 30 combat helicopters and 100,000 automatic rifles to Venezuela. In addition, Venezuela is considering the purchase of up to 50 MiG-29 fighter jets from Russia to replace aging F-16s.
The Russia-Venezuela arms deal was widely criticized in Washington. Both Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have voiced strong opposition to the deal. In late 2004, Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez visited Beijing, where he signed several oil sector investment deals with the China National Petroleum Corporation. Chavez has also stated that he would like to give oil export preference to China rather than the US. China also signed significant energy-related investment deals with Brazil, Ecuador and Argentina in 2004. The willingness of Beijing and Moscow to challenge US security so close to home clearly indicates that a geo-political and geo-strategic battle has begun.
Every country in the region and around the globe is making all possible arrangements to avoid the wrath of USA the Untamed Elephant. Russia is not at ease with all the moves USA taken after the 9/11. US incursions in its traditional Caucasus-Central Asian turf have made it angry. The increasing ties of USA with South Korea and Taiwan and unfinished trade war on textile issue along with Arms Embargo has forced China to take all necessary steps of geo-political and geo-strategic natures to successfully counter the ill designs of USA.