Europe too will ultimately have to rely on this axis for its security
The author is the Italian industrialist and Honorary member of the Academy of Science of the Institut de France with long experience in the Middle East . he wrote this article especially for RI
The Russian Federation was one of the prime movers of the negotiations that resolved the Iranian nuclear issue through the P5+1 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran.
For Russia, the nuclear deal expands to the economy, as well to as the strategic reputation of an ally, namely Iran, which Russia needs, both in the Middle East and in terms of an increase in crude oil prices, a life or death matter.
Russia is not involved in the conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran, supporting everything that can create better relations between the two Islamic nations, aware that tensions in the Middle East could cause a "domino effect".
If the Greater Middle East were to flare up, the Syrian crisis, the Shi’ite Houthi insurgency in Yemen, the destabilization of Shi’ite areas in the Saudi Kingdom and the de facto closure of the sea routes south of Suez, Russian engagement could not continue indefinitely without creating severe economic and strategic problems.
Not even Iran wants a real war along its borders, since it has every interest in taking full advantage of the new economic and political climate, especially with Europe, after the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan.
But how is the management of the P5+1 agreement with Iran progressing, as the keystone of the entire Middle East system?
At the economic level, Iranian-Russian trade will be enhanced in key productive sectors. According to Supreme Leader Khamenei’s plan, the funds returned to Iran, plus increasing trade with the European Union, the United States, Russia and China will generate an economic takeoff.
The sectors involved in Iranian-Russian trade are the nuclear, armaments, natural gas and oil, whose price they may set. The geo-economic tripartite relationship foreseen by Iran includes Russia, Iraq and Venezuela, while Russia proposes coordination with OPEC to achieve an acceptable oil price.
After signing the JCPOA, Russia and Iran also decided to increase economic exchanges from 1.5 billion US dollars in 2013 to 15 billion US dollars within the next five years. This means that the Iranian ruling class plans on off-setting the economic opening to the West with an almost equivalent expansion of trade with Russia.
The position of Ali Akbar Velayati, a close foreign policy aide of Rahbar Khamenei, is that stabilization of the area stretching from Central Asia to the Maghreb and the Middle East, via the Caucasus, can only be permanently guaranteed by a tripartite agreement between China, Russia and Iran.
While Europe is currently swinging between a useless and a ridiculous strategy, and the United States have made it clear they are leaving the Middle East, there is no effective alternative.
The Iranian leader intends to eradicate jihad and enlarge the area of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, enabling China to implement its new "Silk Road” project, the One Belt One Road announced by Xi Jinping in October 2013.
Europe, which still delights in useless and expensive "peace operations" that exacerbate conflicts rather than solving them, will have an Eastern border controlled by this Sino-Russian-Iranian axis. The European Union will have no say in this new configuration, allowing the US to pursue a new "cold war" along the Euro-Russian border.
Pending Implementation Day on January 16, 2016, as many as 593 individuals and companies connected to Iran's uranium enrichment project have been "pardoned" by both the United States and the European Union, including many transport companies, banks, individual nuclear technology experts and companies outside the Shi’ite Republic, thanks to Iran’s release of four prisoners held in its jails.
Iran will be increasingly determined to see an end to the Syrian conflict and Al Baghdadi’s Caliphate that constitutes a strategic threat. China also needs ISIS to be eliminated in order to complete its "New Silk Road" to Europe.
At least 35% of the funds Iran recovers after the lifting of sanctions will pay for new weapons, both Russian and Chinese, as the nuclear threat moves from the Shi’ite Republic to a traditional ally, North Korea. Yemen will get an Iranian nuclear power plant, and Syria will assign parts of its territory to Iran for conventional nuclear operations, and Iraq will accept the presence of Iran’s “forbidden” weapon systems on its territory, as Iran creates a real deterrent that can be used in regional clashes.
This brings to mind the old Soviet strategy manual written by General Shaposhnikov, which saw the use of nuclear weapons in continuity with conventional weapons where tactically useful.
After signing the JCPOA, Iran has chosen the credible and immediate threat instead of an old geopolitics of nuclear confrontation which is becoming impossible as arsenals are equalized. Iran will become a legitimate regional power and an important mediator of future regional conflicts.
Without a reliable centre of gravity in the Middle East that interrupts ISIS’s forward march, enabling the European Union to remain safe within its borders, there will no security in the Mediterranean basin, since terrorism can turn into open warfare.
Therefore we can think of a new negotiation of the P5+1 "contact group" on Iran's missile system, allowing limited conventional weapons. We could also consider containing Saudi Arabia’s nuclear ambitions, relying on a strategic relationship between Russia, China and EU-NATO.
This would rebalance the strategic potential of Iran, Saudi Arabia, and possibly Iraq, keeping the possibility of a nuclear confrontation between Pakistan and India under control.
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