A Silver Lining for Peace

Carnet Hebdo

By Nita Chicooree-Mercier

China’s mediation to bring two major rivals, Saudi Arabia, and Iran, to the negotiating table is a most welcome development in international diplomacy. If anything, the timely public announcement of the master peace deal brokered by China has been well-prepared by the different stakeholders.

With Us or Against Us absurd confrontation. Pic – Shutterstock

While the US, its right arm NATO and EU followers were busy courting major countries to take sides against Russia, and banning Russian cats from competing in international competitions as directed by the International Cat Federation in response to the war in Ukraine, China smartly moved its pawns on the chessboard of geopolitics in the Middle East. It got South Africa and Iran to price their oil trade in yuan, and sold surveillance equipment to the ayatollah regime to keep its rebellious youth in check. China secured its energy requirements by signing a commercial deal with Qatar for four million tons of liquefied natural gas (LNG) for a period of 27 years.

With friendly relations with most Middle East countries and Israel, and as an increasingly outspoken ally of Russia, China has enough leverage to bring its weight to bear to put an end to the Iran-SA proxy war in Yemen and pave the way for peace in a region stricken with wars and uprisings since the US invasion of Iraq. Sanctions have dealt a heavy blow to Iran’s economy, and the regime is sitting on a volcano of rebellious fiery youth uprisings determined to topple the theocracy.

Emboldened by rising opposition to western hegemony in international diplomacy, Saudi Arabia has declined requests from the United States to increase its production of oil in order to reduce gasoline prices in Europe and forced the US President to make a U-turn and go through a humiliating visit to the kingdom in 2022. Oil economy cannot be a long-term plan notwithstanding sky-rocketing current profits in sales. Diversification means investments and tourism. Despite the Kashoggi murder, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, commonly .known by his initials MBS, is smartly enhancing his image and the country’s stand in the world by undertaking liberal reforms in societal matters. The prince seems determined to bring about a de-emphasis on religion in society. Frequent bombings of oil tanks and pipelines in the Strait of Hormuz by Iran and Houthi rebels, and the kingdom’s dependence on long-standing American ally for its protection called for other options. Peace between rivals is the ultimate solution. It is a tremendous success for China on the world stage of diplomacy.

Who stands to win?

There is no doubt that the peace deal is a major game changer. As a key ally of Israel, the US remains sceptical of Iran’s willingness to curb its nuisance value in the region and drawing revenues from the exploitation of gold mines in Venezuela to finance radical groups in Lebanon and the Gaza strip. The clauses of the peace deal have not been divulged to the public, but it is unlikely that China will let Iran go on rampage against its rivals. It is most likely that the peace deal is an extension of the Abraham Accord crafted in the last months of the Trump administration, which Saudi Arabia unofficially gave the green light to with a view to promoting peace in the region. China is guided by pragmatism and more than once expressed its aversion to religious extremism in blunt terms which no Arab country dared to challenge.

Imagine the relief of the people in Yemen. With the support of the US and fighter planes purchased from England and France, Saudi Arabia launched a brutal attack on the Iran-backed country, destroying infrastructure, hospitals, schools and mercilessly bombing civilians to death. What for? To get control of their harbour by force, secure a safe passage for the transport of oil and bypass the Strait of Hormuz in Iran’s backyard. Malnutrition, dire poverty, and starvation hit the population. Thousands of children died for lack of food and medicine. .The international mainstream media did not fulfil their moral obligation of reporting the terrible tragedy, nor did they laud the resilience of the Houthis as they are doing now for the Ukrainians. Why? Because most of them act as lackeys of their governments whose prime motivation in international relations is self-interest.

The world will be a better place with a balance-of-power system in place than the dichotomic division between antagonistic groups engaged in a With Us or Against Us absurd confrontation, which smacks of puerile schoolyard quarrelling. The West has to acknowledge the presence of other key players .and get out of the mindset that it is the sole reliable decision-maker in complex international affairs. China should be congratulated for initiating a first step in opening the way to a multi-polar world. It means that international affairs should be regulated by international law, and not by the law of the strongest bully.

Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 17 March 2023

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