President Xi’s visit to Middle East, new geopolitics of the “OBOR”

Tehran, Jan 25, IRNA – A senior Iranian analyst has said that Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to three Middle Eastern countries, including Iran, was the beginning of a new geopolitics for the initiative of “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR).

According to Ali Biniaz, First Counselor for Research, Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Beijing, it is clear that Iran is a rich and dynamic bridge for the Chinese OBOR project and can connect China’s success not only to the Middle East but also further than that to the European land.

The full text of his article a copy of which was sent to IRNA follows:

President Xi Jinping has just started his first official tour of 2016 by visiting three important Middle Eastern countries. This historic visit in the case of Iran, after conclusion and indeed implementation of the so-called JCPOA and Iranian nuclear deal with five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany, seems to be highly significant not only by its bilateral well-known measures but also by its long term regional and global implications.

We know Iran has been located at the crossroads of the west and the east of the globe. In terms of reality, it is not only the pearl of the Greater Middle East, but also its rich core, the Persian Gulf. Iran is not only number one owner of the world’s combined oil and natural gas resources, but also world’s dynamic epicenter of self-fashioning, culture and civilization in peace mode. This unique country is endowed by a huge young and innovative pool of talents, well-equipped with marvelous technical and engineering capabilities with awaited brilliant future.

Furthermore, Iran is home to more than one thousand years of well-recorded and highly fine-tuned scholastic works, an untouched source of generating new models of peace and sustainable development in future. A feature that its past has been well showcased in a 400-year old square in the city center of Isfahan, where a past and still alive success story and indeed an astonishing model of social and economic prosperity based on three integrated elements of sustainable development, that is religion, science and power is present. This apparently gives Iran a source of influence beyond its geographical borders.

On the East of this marvelous unit of civilization, is located the beautiful land of China. An old friend not only with likewise deep historical roots, rich cultural traditions and illustrious imperial past, but also a rising power in the modern world that has committed itself to the promotion of global peace and sustainable development via initiation of the One Belt, One Road project, (OBOR). Up to now, China has announced significant foreign financial pledges, including a 47Billion dollars earmarked for the development of a western economic corridor connecting China to Pakistan with extension towards Iran, Central Asia and the Persian Gulf.

On the West of Iran, there is European land Iran’s traditional trader and a cultural dialogue partner with highly interwoven and colorful multi linkages. A land via its European Monetary Union (EMU) seems to be attracted more than any time in the past to the recent Chinese success story and its initiated OBOR project. Released news out of EMU’s rotating presidency of the Netherlands and a newly circulated research report by the Clingendael Institute show that the Netherlands has in mind to push forward the idea of materialization of the Juncker Plan with possible connection to the Chinese OBOR project. Juncker Plan apparently calls for raising at least US 394 Billion dollars private funds by the end of 2017 to be invested into most needed European infrastructures.

Therefore, given this perspective, it is clear that Iran is a rich and dynamic bridge for the Chinese OBOR project and can connect China’s success not only to the Middle East but also further than that to the European land, where a possible long term divide or union with the US is on the way. The fact of the matter is that Presient Xi’s visit of the Middle East region this time not only happens very timely and productive as far as foreign policy of China towards the region itself is concerned, but also seems to shape gradually the cornerstone of overall Chinese foreign policy towards the world as well as the immediate neighboring countries.

Now for this much of beauty and connectivity at crossroads, the question is that how much of attached risk is at vision. There might be ostensibly two regional caveats in place: A chance of expansion of regional divide over religious sects and the quality of future engagement of the US with the region including Iran.

In assessment, one can say that neither seems to be genuine or problematic. As far as the first risk is concerned, past experiences show that this has been a transient but vanishing part of an old geopolitical game in a regional context. The only real concern seems to be the vitality of the powerhouse of Vahabist School, a phenomenon of the recent past 200 years that now has been embodies in the ISIS and its sisters.

The risk of quality of future US engagement in the region, apparently and again it seems to be more of a past story than a future one. If one looks at the past 66 years of modern history of bilateral relations between Iran and China, occasions could be marked where in the triangle of the US, China and Iran bilateral relations, any expansion or contraction of relationship in one pair of these three has something to do with the third one. However, this story is far from recurrence in the post JCPOA era, where a gradual convergence among these three is more likely than a determining and detrimental divide.

The fact of the matter is that the JCPOA is a showcase for the US implicit acknowledgement of its past failure in projecting its western style democracy yo the rest of the globe, an ingredient of which is the accompanied idea of the so-called regime change in Iran. However, in the new era and after that implicit failure acknowledgement, it seems that the time is ripe for Iran and China to sit together and appeal for the global peace and convergence of humanity and not being concerned with any US promoted human divide.