by Tom Olago
Al Arabiya.net has recently described the current standoff between the West and Moscow concerning Ukraine as potentially the gravest instance of tension in the post-Cold War era. The tensions between Russia and the West seem to be causing some significant geopolitical re-alignments following Russia’s recent political aggressions in relation to Ukraine and Crimea.
Against the backdrop of this increasing tension between the West and Russia, Iran and the P5+1 (the U.S., Russia, France, China, Britain and Germany) started their diplomatic negotiations to make headway on the nuclear dispute, which would ideally be a lasting accord permanently resolving the decade-long nuclear standoff and averting the threat of another war in the Middle East.
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh in an article for Al Arabiya.net, opines that should the Russian-West standoff over the Ukraine crisis continue, Moscow is more likely to play the “Iran card” by changing its stance on Iran’s nuclear talks, in a retaliatory high-stakes gamble to counter sanctions by the United States and the European Union.
The Russian position, and its demands on Iran’s nuclear program, is likely to become less firm. Generally, China has followed the Russian position in the nuclear negotiations. The Ukraine crisis and the Russia-West standoff might not interfere with reaching a final nuclear deal between Tehran and the P5+1, but the terms of the agreement are likely to be much less strict on Tehran as Russia and the Islamic Republic strengthen ties and feel less pressured to cooperate with or make concessions to the West.
Russia and China (who reluctantly supported the four rounds of U.N. sanctions against Iran and later condemned the unilateral sanctions), can now focus more on their own terms and agenda, including building nuclear reactors for Iran. In mid March, Iran’s state-run Press TV reportedly announced that Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rowhani agreed that Moscow would build two additional nuclear power plants for Tehran and construct new facilities next to Iran’s power plant in the city of Bushehr.
Dr. Rafizadeh points out several factors that contribute to these converging geopolitical security interests, pivoted around the emerging Russia/Iran axis:
1. Putin and Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei resisting Western hegemony in the Middle East.
2. Russia and Iran are attempting to establish themselves as key and influential geopolitical and strategic players in the region.
3. Putin and Iranian leaders are attempting to restore their regionally and internationally wounded prestige and pride. From their perspective, the international community lacks respect towards Moscow and Tehran’s influence and power. Dr. Rafizadeh gives Syria as an example where the two nations are working together by ratcheting up the amount of political and economic capital they spend to secure Assad’s stay in power.
An additional factor highlighted in osnetdaily.com is that both Moscow and Tehran see the opportunity to cushion each other economically from the sanctions they face from the west. Part of the mutual benefits include a broad bilateral economic package that may be in place by August 2014. This political marriage seems to be much more about the Rouhani government seeking to consolidate Iran’s newfound nuclear status in the face of deep Western reservations than it is a reflection of an abiding commitment to Russia as a principal commercial and trading partner.
In addition, for China, its current interests are to strengthen strategic ties with Moscow and Tehran for security. The Ukraine crisis has moved Moscow, Tehran, and Beijing closer to one another to counterbalance the West and resist Western hegemony, providing a platform for them to create the strategic geopolitical axis in the region.
According to frontpage.com, in the South and East China seas, China is aggressively seeking to expand its maritime borders. It has made significant headway in both these areas with a muscular military approach designed to intimidate American regional allies like Japan and the Philippines. America’s feeble response to Putin’s aggression in Crimea will only serve to embolden a resurgent and aggressive China, making the likelihood of a regional war in that neglected theatre a real possibility. China will certainly feel better having powerful like minded partners in Russia and Iran, to counter U.S/NATO concerns and potential reprisals.
According to Americanthinker.com, if Russia does move into Iran’s camp (as it is now doing) then Israel has the perfect excuse to move ahead with a military strike on Iran’s nuclear installations and will likely have the support of the entire Western world (in addition to America’s Mideast allies like Saudi Arabia). Israel has already signaled its seriousness by setting aside US $2.89 billion to finance the attack.
Such a development may very well act as the trigger for Russia to lead an Israeli invasion, under the pretext of defending its allies, while actually targeting control of Israel’s enormous gas (and possibly oil) reserves. This could be the “hook in Russia’s jaws” spoken of in Ezekiel 38.
A weakened US/NATO alliance may not be able or willing to do much militarily, if the U.S led response on Ukraine is any indication. A weakened United States enables the perfect setting for the prophecies of Ezekiel 38, when God will miraculously defeat Israel’s enemies (Gog and her allies) and glorify His Name among the nations.