Christina Lin explores how China might have taken sides with Iran if all-out war had broken out. Joint war games, held at the end of December in the Gulf of Oman, sent a clear signal to the US, argues Lin, that “Iran is not isolated and has powerful allies.”
However, Stephen Bryen argues that the notion of any real military alliance among China, Russia and Iran is “questionable” and talk of any form of combined Chinese and Russian military intervention in Iran remains “unrealistic.” “Legally speaking,” writes Bryen, “neither Russia nor China has a security agreement or defense treaty with Iran.”
For MK Bhadrakumar, these military exercises ultimately “gained little” for Iran but instead helped Moscow and Beijing more, by allowing them “to thumb their noses at Washington.”
Indeed, as Christina Lin points out, the exercises may have been an attempt by Beijing and Moscow to sully American prestige in the Middle East but neither party wants all-out war. Beijing “needs Mideast stability to pursue the Belt and Road Initiative Eurasian integration plan,” writes Lin. “It has large stakes in Iran’s stability: It is the largest buyer of Iranian oil, China is Iran’s largest trading partner, and Iran is a key geographic node for the BRI.”
Lin says China has tried to balance its relationship with Saudi Arabia and Iran in the Middle East and set up a firewall between the two, “although Iran is more significant in China’s strategic calculus given the fact Saudi Arabia and other Arab Gulf countries are still under the US security umbrella and host US military bases."
China might take Iran’s side in a war with US by Christina Lin
There’s a silver lining in a potential US-Iran war by Stephen Bryen
Iran opting for ‘total war’ against US by MK Bhadrakumar
Trump moves to de-escalate Iran crisis by Pepe Escobar
South Asia is home to more Islamist terrorist organizations than any other region of the world, but at the turn of the decade the region's two leading global jihadist groups are facing a severe leadership vacuum following the death of ISIS’s supreme leader and caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and the killing of al-Qaeda heir apparent Hamza bin Laden.