by Tahir Mahmoud (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 53, No. 5, Dhu al-Hijjah, 1444)
As US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited China and then London where he met Türkiye’s newly-appointed Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan, Washington’s desire to create breathing space for itself could not be camouflaged with pompous statements. Holistic and in-depth analysis quickly unmasked the reality that Washington wants to negotiate and buy itself some time by pausing tense geopolitical frictions in as many places as possible.
However, just like an outdated firm, the US has little to offer to those still willing to take it seriously. So the question is: what can Washington offer and achieve through the latest emphasis on diplomacy with China, Türkiye and Islamic Iran?
The imperialist regime in Washington blinked first when it had to make a cynical overture to Venezuela for oil in the immediate aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. This rushed move is going to have long-term repercussions for the US in other theaters where geopolitical tensions exist.
With China, the US can only offer suspension of economic and political tensions and in the case of Islamic Iran, the temporary suspension of its clandestine war. It is important to note that suspension of its hostile policies is not cancellation.
In the best-case scenario, if all three countries agree to deescalate their policies, it will still not provide Washington with the desired political maneuverability to retain its hegemony in any meaningful way.
Türkiye seems to have made a strategic decision to use the war in Ukraine as a stepping stone for its own economic growth. This means that even if Ankara agrees to the terms and conditions the US offers in return for not upsetting the regional order to any significant degree, the natural evolution of events in West Asia will continue to marginalize the US. Meanwhile, Türkiye will remain an economic lifeline for Russia.
It is highly unlikely that the west can offer major incentives to Türkiye in order to reduce its economic relations with Russia significantly. It also does not make economic or geopolitical sense for Ankara to do so. Besides, the economies of western countries are currently struggling and are in no position to offer major incentives to others.
The return of Syria to the Arab political landscape, Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s desire to trade with Russia and maintain a working relationship with Islamic Iran and China, have all created a momentum which cannot be stalled via tactical dealings. The region is slowly charting a new geopolitical course. Its natural objective is to have as little of America’s disruptive presence as possible in all spheres of activity.
For Türkiye, the US will have to curtail the power of Kurdish militias in Syria significantly to satisfy Ankara. Further, it will have to offer major economic incentives to stabilize the Turkish economy.
If the US gives in to Türkiye on the Kurdish issue, it will mean the empowerment of Russia, Iran and Syria. It will also undermine America’s declining image and credibility and weaken Israel geopolitically. Due to the broader global geopolitical context, it will be a significant blow to US imperialism.
Like Iran and China, Türkiye also knows that due to their heavy involvement in the Ukraine war, western regimes cannot afford to create additional points of friction. The reality is that NATO regimes are being drained and exhausted politically, economically, and militarily in Ukraine. Thus, if Ankara or any other country takes steps not in line with America’s interests, there is little the US can do. The same scenario will hold if China and Iran were to do so.
Türkiye is, therefore, likely to demand major concessions from the US in return for whatever Washington asks. It is, however, unlikely that the US will be able to fulfil Ankara’s demands. Türkiye knows that it can go it alone on many important issues. Ankara also has the ability to complicate matters for the US in West Asia.
Ukraine is a fitna of the western geopolitical sphere and Russia has turned it into NATO’s Syria. Türkiye knows that now Washington needs it more than it needs the US.
When it comes to China, it is evident that the US has pushed tensions with Beijing to a level where there will be no easy reset. Even if both sides agree to reduce them, it will be a lengthy process spanning many years.
With the US leading the charge, NATO is making it clear that they want to sideline China economically and geopolitically. Washington wants to develop certain parameters within which both China and the US can operate globally without stepping on each other’s toes. While this may appear to be a reasonable option, deeper analysis indicates that China is far ahead of America in the broader economic sense. And Beijing knows this. The US does not have the stamina to confront China on a serious level anytime soon.
Also, considering that the war in Ukraine will drag on for some time, Beijing is not likely to rush and close a deal with western regimes, let alone agree to some grand bargain proposed by a rapidly declining power.
China has become a manufacturing hub for many economies and is a key investor in developed and developing countries. It is, therefore, quite unrealistic to expect that China will want to negotiate with the US on terms and conditions proposed by Washington. True, the Americans can put forward some proposals such as splitting certain markets between China and the US, but this is already happening organically.
The world is already being regionalized economically and politically. Thus, whatever global “partition” the US offers, like the days of the cold war with the erstwhile Soviet Union, China is unlikely to accept it.
Regarding Islamic Iran, matters are even more complicated for the US. Iran’s past and recent actions in the Persian Gulf, Syria and South America clearly indicate that Tehran will not adopt American objectives as part of its own agenda. If the US regime assumes that by throwing terrorist cults like the MEK under a political bus will incentivize Islamic Iran and accommodate some US interests, they will be proved wrong as they have been for the past 44 years.
Th position adopted by western regimes in instigating riots in Islamic Iran last September made it quite clear to all socio-political segments inside Iran that being soft with the US is not a policy option.
From an economic standpoint, the temporary freeze of American economic warfare will definitely benefit Tehran. Recent diplomatic breakthroughs between Islamic Iran and regimes in occupied Arabian Peninsula, however, will provide Tehran with significant economic breathing space. Thus, there is no urgency for Iran to provide relief for the US on its temporary economic overtures.
It should be noted that astute regional analysts have known for quite some time that while everyone else in the region is playing checkers, Islamic Iran is playing chess.
In the larger framework, the US, true to its disruptive nature, has exacerbated tensions with powers like China, Russia and Iran. It has also spoiled relations with its vassals like the GCC regimes and Türkiye to a point of no return. This factor combined with several other economic, military and geopolitical variables, shows that de-escalation of frictions is not critical for the above-named countries.
America can no longer initiate or end tensions at the time of its own choosing. It appears that US diplomatic cadre has not caught up with this new reality.