Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Vox Popoli: An empire expands

The latest developments in the Sino-Iranian alliance appears to mark a significant change in the Middle Kingdom's military policy:

Beijing is preparing to transfer 5,000 Chinese troops to Iran to guard its $400bn investment in the country over the next 25 years. Military engineers are prospecting sites for their bases. This deployment was covered in the investment-cum-strategic accord signed in Tehran on March 27 by visiting Chinese FM Wang Yi and his Iranian counterpart Mohammed Javad Zarif.

Gulf and the Western intelligence sources report that this substantial Chinese military presence in Iran, the first in the Gulf region, will mark out the formation of a strategic axis linking China, Iran and Pakistan, two of which are nuclear powers. It will add another section to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project underway in Pakistan, as part of Beijing’s $8 trillion Border and Road Initiative projects for spanning Asia and Europe. The CPEC is to provide a safe passage and a shorter route for Iranian oil, gas and petrochemicals, sold at cut-rate prices, to reach China.

The 5,000 Chinese troops to be posted in Iran, DEBKAfile sources reveal, will join the rarely noticed presence of 10,000 Chinese military personnel in the east African port of Djibouti,, so topping up Beijing’s military strength athwart more than one sensitive corner of the Middle East to 15,000 troops.

The locations of the new Chinese bases in Iran are still under discussion. One is likely to be a seaport – either on Iran’s Gulf coast or at Chabahar, an outlet to the Gulf of Oman where the Revolutionary Guards Crops navy maintains a large installation. This location would strengthen the Iran-China-Pakistan connection. Also under discussion is a site close to Iran’s key nuclear facilities, which would seriously complicate any Israeli plan for an air strike against its nuclear program.

Despite or perhaps because of its size, China has never been an expansionary power. However, it appears that the Chinese have learned from their very unfair treatment by the British, Japanese, Soviet, and US empires that one is either the invaded or the invader.

This closer alliance with Iran may be particularly significant in light of Xi's initial rejection of the great leap to China by the diasporans now in the United States, and as Debka notes, the presence of Chinese military bases in Iran will likely complicate future attempts by Israel to suppress Iran's growing military power. The Israelis may rapidly come to regret the abuse of US military power over the last thirty years by the neoclowns.

It does not appear there will be lasting peace in the Middle East any time soon. And there is very little that the US can do about the way its lesser enemies are turning to China for protection.