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China, Iran, Russia and New Regionalism

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Mehdi Sanaei
Director of the Iran and Eurasia Research Center (IRAS)

1. Many analysts believe that “regionalism” has been among the main pillars of the new world order following the collapse of the bipolar system. “Regional convergence” which was introduced in the 1960s as a theory of international relations has gone through “idealistic” and “realistic” phases to focus more on regional necessities. Later on, due to the success of “functionalism” theory of social sciences, it pursued realization of objective and real demands as well as cooperation and convergence among regional countries as “both a process and a final stage.”

After emergence of new functionalist approaches, regionalism emphasized on the fact that to meet common interests and face common threats, countries which were close in geographical, economic and cultural terms, should take a regional approach to sustainable development and security based on their individual necessities and demands. Therefore, after the collapse of the bipolar world system, regionalism came to the fore a second time, but not merely for functional purposes. It was also as a result of the new significance which was attached to national identity, religion, and culture. In short, its revival was owed to promotion of “behaviorism” at international level followed by the establishment of various unions and alliances in the world and in the Middle East region during the past two decades.

2. At all times, regionalism has been under pressure from the dominant world system and global powers willing to maintain the status quo. Although during the second half of the 20th century some regional organizations with mostly economic missions were relatively successful, only those regional blocs and organizations which were in line with the policies of one of two main poles of power could show up in the area of international competition.

During the past two decades, regionalism has been under the amazing effect of globalization and efforts made to impose a unilateral world system on the whole globe. “New world order,” “end of history,” “clash of civilizations,” and “globalization” were all different approaches to unification of the world system, of course, not in its Socialist or Soviet sense, but in its American sense. This was why dominant world powers could not tolerate the least signs of independent thinking in the world.

Frequent cases of overt intervention in various parts of the world by the United States and Europe over the past two decades under various pretexts, show that despite failure in establishing stability and peace, the West has been pursuing its own interests by promoting a Western development model and does not allow for emergence of independent regional models of development.

3. Russia, China and many other countries like Iran, have found out that the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) neither respect maintenance of peace and stability, nor abide by any rules of international law in the avid pursuit of their interests. The use of double standards in dealing with various issues, not considering any geographical limits for the pursuit of the West’s interests and, if needed, violating international norms of human rights as happened in cases of Iraq, Afghanistan and even in Libya by killing the country’s former dictator, Muammar Qaddafi, are good evidences in favor of the above fact. Frequent condemnation of China on human rights grounds during the recent years and the US Secretary of State’s rash remarks about the recent parliamentary election in Russia while Western protesters are still being beaten in the streets of the United States and Europe as well as adoption of various resolutions against Iran, whose political and non-legal dimensions are clear to all, stem from the same origin. They have targeted convergence in the Middle East and Eurasia and growing political blocs in those regions.

Recent positions taken by Russia and China, clearly indicate that those countries have understood that Syria, and even Iran, are not ultimate goals of the West and NATO. The current trend is part of the effort made by the West to impose a unilateral system on the world and, this time, through military means. Some analysts hope that Turkey and Saudi Arabia will soon know, or at least, suspect that the world order pursued by the US and NATO will soon consider them not as friends, but as barriers. On the one hand, Saudi Arabia does not have the means of establishing a democratic system in the near future. Turkey, on the other hand, cannot become politically aligned with the West in foreseeable future, nor can it become totally identical to the West in cultural terms.

It is not clear whether the “family” which Iran was invited to become a member of by the US Secretary of Defense in his recent visit to Turkey will continue to consider Turkey, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia as its members under their current conditions.

4. Sustainable development and security can only be realized on the basis of local components and intervention from outside the region will only increase tension and further deepen the existing gaps. During the past few decades, Iran, Russia, and China have shown reaction to presence of foreign forces in the region through such political frameworks as the Caspian Sea littoral states or Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

However, no single regional security arrangement has been established by these countries. China and Russia have constantly avoided of establishing a full-blown regional political system due to their consideration for the world’s dominant order as well as common economic interests with other big powers. Realities on the ground, however, have shown that despite temporary agreements, they have mostly taken sides with the West in order to promote their own interests and break new political grounds.

For many years, Russia has been expected to enter into a regional cooperation framework with more confidence while China has been expected to assume greater responsibilities in proportion to its huge capacities. Turkey, whose international credit was rising as a result of the policies adopted by the Justice and Development Party, is expected to represent the interests of the region and the whole Middle East, instead of striving to meet the interests of the West and NATO.

Playing according to the rules of a win-win game between the West and the East is the least expectation from Turkey. It is not expected to give the green light to deployment of the West’s missile defense system, which is an overt threat to Iran and Russia, nor is Ankara supposed to take such an aggressive position towards its southern neighbor, Syria. Such positions are not in line with long-term interests of Turkey’s people, nor do they benefit peace and stability in the region.

Regional cooperation between Russia and Iran in the Middle East, is an option which should be pursued diligently because Iran’s regional capacity can provide a good channel for the cooperation among Moscow, Ankara and Tehran. Trilateral cooperation among these countries in the area of energy transfer is also a real possibility which, if ignored, will cause all of them to face long-term energy challenges.

Saudi Arabia is quite aware that occasional misunderstandings between Riyadh and Tehran are neither rooted in Iran, nor in Saudi Arabia, but their root causes should be sought elsewhere. As such, emergence of two Islamic Middle East and Eurasian political systems and cooperation between these two systems are requisite for improving security and stability in the region and the whole world.

Source: Tabnak News Website
http://www.tabnak.ir/
Translated By: Iran Review

More By Mehdi Sanaei:

*Russia and “Independent” Initiative in Iran’s Nuclear Case: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Russia_and_“Independent”_Initiative_in_Iran’s_Nuclear_Case.htm

*Obstacles & Motives for China & Russia to Unify against Iran: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Obstacles_Motives_for_China_Russia_to_Unify_against_Iran.htm

*Russia’s Sanctions against Iran: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Russia%E2%80%99s_Sanctions_against_Iran.htm

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