BY: William Holmes
PEJOURNAL – The policy of US sanctions and addiction to forcing non-aligned countries to adhere to its maximum-policies has created new lines of resistance in the international system including Middle East. Globally, in the aftermath of the Cold War and the undisputed power of the Americans over the international system, sanctions diplomacy has been widely used in US foreign policy.
The lack of global rivals after the fall of the Soviet Union, which led to the creation of a new world order to the detriment of American interests, in turn paved the way for a monopoly of power in Washington. This new order made Washington’s sanctions effective against rival and hostile rivals, and was able to effectively achieve diplomatic isolation and political and economic stalemate in the countries targeted by the sanctions.
The inhumane aspects of sanctions are also a significant issue. Maximum pressure on Cuba and sanctions on the country’s only product with a comparative advantage, sugarcane, Saddam’s sanctions on Iraq before the 2003 invasion that killed more than 50,000 Iraqis due to malnutrition, sanctions on Venezuela and its economic bankruptcy, and ultimately heavy sanctions against Iran and Russia, with far-reaching economic consequences, has proven the effectiveness of war and sanctions policies to secure US interests, along with the devastation and poverty of their people.
The United States has already imposed sanctions in order to undermine China’s domestic economy and foreign trade in order to further its trade superiority over China.
Sanctions are still carried out in the shadow of diplomacy based on the logic of coercion, with the aim of changing the behavior of the target country or countries or changing governments.
A look at US attacks on Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan; North Korea’s nuclearization, Libya’s instability after Gaddafi and its transformation into a jihadist base, Tehran’s efforts to acquire nuclear weapons and its further expansion in the region, show that not only the target country’s behavior has not changed, but Basically, the regime change that has taken place in some cases, such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya as a result of direct US military strikes, has resulted in nothing but the collapse of nations, regional insecurity, global instability and the phenomenon of central government.
In the current situation, the countries that are under severe sanctions have tried to use the capacities of the great and revisionist powers. Meanwhile, China, as a serious rival of the United States, is looking for gaps in the presence of the West and the use of sanctions against third countries. This means trying to gain full influence in areas under economic and diplomatic pressure for exploitation, and especially with regard to the Belt-One Road project (the New Silk Road project).
The result of the Ayatollahs’ tough resistance to the United States after Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA and repeated threats by the United States and its allies against the existence of the Islamic Republic have led Iran to tie its interests to China and Russia. Concerns about the threat of a military strike and, on the other hand, unprecedented economic pressure in the form of political and economic sanctions, headed by oil and banking sanctions, have generally prompted Tehran to play the role of a Trojan horse for China’s presence in the Middle East.
This role of Iran due to its special geopolitical and geostrategic position in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz on the one hand, and in the corridor from east to west and continental Europe on the other; As well as elements of Iran’s military and demographic power in the Middle East, which have led to Tehran’s growing influence in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Lebanon, the Islamic Republic has sought to use its regional playing card against the United States.
The 25-year agreement with China translates into a change in the rules of the game and the disappointment of opening diplomatic relations with the United States and de-escalating tensions with the West by Iranian reformists. In fact, U.S. sanctions will burn the reformists’ playing card as a pro-Western faction in Iran’s domestic politics, and hardliners will take more power, same as what happened in the elections on June 18, 2021.
Crisis in the Middle East swamp for the United States
U.S. sanctions against Iran, in addition to persuading the Islamic Republic to develop nuclear activities, will virtually keep the channels of diplomacy with Washington closed for at least years, exacerbating a regional crisis in the Middle East in Iraq and Afghanistan that has become a swamp for the United States.
The goal of sanctions, which were intended to change behavior in Iran relative to Israel and nuclear activities or lead to regime change, not only did not materialize, but Iran would move forward with a change in behavior toward the West and pave the way for strategic cooperation with Russia and China, exactly the opposite of what the United States intended, and would even make China and Russia more determined than ever before against the United States.
Undoubtedly, the case of Iran, if the United States does not return to the nuclear deal and pursues a policy of economic and security dependence on China, will lead to a domino effect of the joining of the embargoed countries to the East axis and changing the global geopolitical order.
Given the US sensitivity to China’s challenge to a liberal world order, this process could be the focus of widespread change. China, for its part, with a GDP of about $14.5 trillion and a “One Belt-One Road” initiative, in addition to its economic importance, has been able to revert to Alfred Mahan’s thesis of dominating the waters by expanding its military presence, especially at sea, and increasing its warship.
China’s growing need for fossil fuels and energy carriers is one of the strategic dependencies of the grand deal with Iran. In this plan, in addition to supplying Chinese oil exclusively and at a lower price, Iran will provide the fuel for Beijing’s broader expansionist ambitions.
With the development of Gwadar port and presence in the Indian Ocean and having a naval base in Djibouti, by obtaining any naval presence permit in the Persian Gulf waters from Tehran, it can fully establish a corridor from the Indian Ocean to the Red Sea water to design a belt and road.
Meanwhile, Iran’s role will become one of the key countries in China’s Silk Road project under the 25-year agreement. Also, by increasing its presence in Gwadar and Chabahar, China’s Xinjiang region could develop significantly economically after decades and prevent Washington from using its security fault. If Beijing enters the Persian Gulf in strategic cooperation with Iran, the Middle East will be a possible host for World War III.
The danger of continuing the US policy of unilateralism, in addition to pushing Iran towards China and Russia and creating new regional and global blocs, will ultimately lead Europe to strategic independence. The nuclear deal with Iran may be the last straw for the United States to return to the world order and use multilateral diplomacy with Europe, China and Russia. An agreement that could become a symbol of cooperation or lead to a new alignment in the international system against the United States.
In these circumstances, given the decline of the U.S. superpower, Washington’s sanctions pressures on non-aligned countries using the presence and influence of financial and banking institutions as well as global political economies can no longer lead to a change in the maximum behavior of the other party and acceptance of Washington’s demands.
On the other hand, China’s growing power could encourage other countries such as Iran to ally with China or block the East. This means the possibility of re-forming the Eastern bloc, but this time under the leadership of China and with the presence of powers such as Iran and Russia and possibly Turkey against the Western bloc and return to the world will be multipolar. The new order, in which China, Russia and Iran are at the same pole, will have far more potential than the United States, which has shaken its strategic allies under Trump.
The question that must be on the minds of politicians and decision-makers on the economic war front in Washington is that the result of imposing sanctions would be to cut off diplomacy and persuade a rival actor to join China and Russia. The continuation of sanctions will eventually lead to the awakening of Europe and the emergence of full-fledged guardianship of the United States, given the experience of the Trump era, and these changes in global geopolitics could pave the way for even a much larger scale of World War III. More deadly than World War I and II under the influence of continuing American unilateralist policies.