Sino-Iranian Ties Are Dangerous, but Will Only Go So Far

Aug. 14 2020

The leaking of a draft of an extensive agreement for economic and strategic cooperation between Beijing and Tehran—two fiercely anti-American regimes—has caused serious concern in Washington. Jerusalem is also alarmed at the prospect that a regional power dedicated to Israel’s destruction now has the backing of the world’s second-mightiest country. While these worries are undoubtedly justified, argue Amos Yadlin and Ari Heistein, there are limits to how much China can, or will, do for Iran:

Beijing will find it difficult to uphold grandiose promises of investment, and any joint projects that move forward will likely be negotiated under highly unfavorable terms for Iran. In addition, cooperation against the United States has limited potential because neither country can resolve the core challenges that the other faces vis-à-vis Washington. . . . China is unlikely to provide adequate investment to solve Iran’s economic woes, and Iran cannot provide China with the trade and technological advantages to mitigate recent U.S. steps in great-power competition.

The assessment that this leaked draft and a potential Sino-Iranian partnership constitute a major blow to U.S. “maximum pressure” on Iran appears premature. On the contrary, it is entirely conceivable that the document was leaked by Tehran as a desperate response to the partial success of America’s Iran policy. Iran’s dismal economic outlook and the regime’s recent blunders have created intense pressure on the government to present some good news to the public (e.g., Chinese investors lining up to pour money into Iran) in order to demonstrate the regime’s competence and to provide a sense of hope for the future. However, these Iranian “breakthroughs” do not always reflect reality.

Yet in military and strategic terms, the new friendliness between Iran and China has already yielded results:

Intelligence cooperation between the two countries reportedly led to the decimation of the CIA’s collection capabilities. In addition, Chinese assistance with Iran’s missile program has intensified the threat Iran poses to the Middle East. However, Beijing’s assistance to Iran is based on opportunism rather than any particular affinity. Recent reports have revealed China’s role in developing nuclear facilities for Saudi Arabia, Tehran’s arch-rival. . . . Beijing will not forego Saudi oil or trade with Israel and Turkey in order to entangle itself in Iran’s collapsing economy.

Read more at War on the Rocks

More about: China, Iran, Israel-China relations, U.S. Foreign policy


President Biden Should Learn the Lessons of Past U.S. Attempts to Solve the Israel-Palestinian Conflict

Sept. 21 2023

In his speech to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, Joe Biden addressed a host of international issues, mentioning, inter alia, the “positive and practical impacts” resulting from “Israel’s greater normalization and economic connection with its neighbors.” He then added that the U.S. will “continue to work tirelessly to support a just and lasting peace between the Israelis and Palestinians—two states for two peoples.” Zach Kessel experiences some déjà vu:

Let’s take a stroll down memory lane and review how past U.S.-brokered talks between Jerusalem and [Palestinian leaders] have gone down, starting with 1991’s Madrid Conference, organized by then-President George H.W. Bush. . . . Though the talks, which continued through the next year, didn’t get anywhere concrete, many U.S. officials and observers across the world were heartened by the fact that Madrid was the first time representatives of both sides had met face to face. And then Palestinian militants carried out the first suicide bombing in the history of the conflict.

Then, in 1993, Bill Clinton tried his hand with the Oslo Accords:

In the period of time directly after the Oslo Accords . . . suicide bombings on buses and in crowded public spaces became par for the course. Clinton invited then-Palestinian Authority chairman Yasir Arafat and then-Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak to Camp David in 2000, hoping finally to put the conflict to rest. Arafat, who quite clearly aimed to extract as many concessions as possible from the Israelis without ever intending to agree to any deal—without even putting a counteroffer on the table—scuttled any possibility of peace. Of course, that’s not the most consequential event for the conflict that occurred in 2000. Soon after the Camp David Summit fell apart, the second intifada began.

Since Clinton, each U.S. president has entered office hoping to put together the puzzle that is an outcome acceptable to both sides, and each has failed. . . . Every time a deal has seemed to have legs, something happens—usually terrorist violence—and potential bargains are scrapped. What, then, makes Biden think this time will be any different?

Read more at National Review

More about: Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Joe Biden, Palestinian terror, Peace Process