Recently, a spokesman for the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee proclaimed that “in the new world order, a triangle consisting of three powers—Iran, Russia, and China—has formed.” He went on to assert that “this new arrangement heralds the end of inequitable hegemony of the [United] States and the West.” Bryan Clark and Michael Doran argue that the Biden administration is not paying sufficient attention to this “arrangement,” and propose ways to mitigate its growing threat. (Subscription required.)
Mr. Putin’s campaign to bring Ukraine under Moscow’s control has a direct connection to the joint Russian-Iranian project of propping up the Assad regime in Syria. Russia’s naval bases in Sevastopol, Crimea (which Mr. Putin annexed from Ukraine in 2014), and in Tartus, Syria, serve as operational hubs for Russia’s Mediterranean presence. A strong, independent Ukraine threatens Moscow’s ability to project power into the Middle East. . . .
For his part, the Chinese president Xi Jinping makes a similar set of calculations. Thanks to one of history’s most rapid military buildups, China now has Asia’s largest air force, the world’s largest army by number of active-duty troops, and largest navy by number of vessels. According to U.S. Indo-Pacific Command leaders, the Chinese military will be poised to invade Taiwan successfully by 2027. The Pentagon is playing catch-up. . . .
The Iranian foreign minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, recently announced that the 25-year strategic accord between Iran and China, forged last year, has entered into force. At the heart of the accord is oil for security assistance. Is China actively encouraging Iran to unleash its proxies against America’s Gulf allies? Not that we know of. But it is building up Iran and doing nothing to counter its most malign behavior. Beijing cannot but have noticed that when U.S. allies turn to Washington for help, they encounter a weary and distracted America, one ever less eager to deter Iran. Increasingly exposed, the allies hedge, tentatively tilting toward Beijing.