Iran-Russia-China alliance after Soleimani assassination

TEHRAN, Feb. 19 (MNA) – Iran's calculated response to the US assassination of Gen. Qassem Soleimani and the strengthening of Tehran's relations with Beijing and Moscow revealed the wrongfulness of Washington's calculations.

When Nick Paton Walsh, a CNN analyst wrote on January 6, 2020 about the US assassination of Lt. Gen. Soelimani that “Iran’s response to the US may happen slowly and that’s more concerning”, many in Iran who were demanding swift harsh revenge wondered what the American analyst was worried about.

But Nick Paton Walsh was obviously right; Iran’s slow and gradual reaction was more concerning. Iran exactly opted for that wise approach. Iran’s patient and wise approach could deter the United States from committing such a heinous crime once again.

What question did the assassination put in minds of the Russians and the Chinese?

The reality is that both the Russians and the Chinese took the US assassination threat against their military servicemen and generals after the assassination of General Soleimani more seriously, asking themselves, "Will the United States put the assassination of Russian and Chinese generals on the agenda as well?" Will the United States make it a common thing to assassinate the commanders of its adversaries, and most importantly; What should Iran, Russia, and China do as the US adversaries to deter Washington from committing such a crime again in the future with increasing the price?

The idea of ​​an Iran-Russia-China security-defense alliance came from such common threats. In fact, the possibility of assassinating other countries' top generals has taught good lessons to Russia and China.

What lesson did the assassination teach Russia and China?

This concern is well reflected in an article by Sergey Shakaryants on the Russian “Regnum” website.

During the very first days after the assassination of the Iranian top general, Shakaryants wrote that when the former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke of the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani, he made it clear that Soleimani's assassination was a part of a larger strategy to contain the challenges emerging from the US adversaries, including Russia, as well as China, and that Pompeo brought all US enemies together with its Iranian enemy.

According to the Regnum article, Pompeo's remarks were a clear threat to Russia and China to assassinate their generals, like what it did with Iran. It added that in fact, China was at the top of the US threat pyramid, followed by Russia in second place, and the question that remained to be asked was how Pompeo should say that the United States will refrain from any action against China and Russia.

Editor-in-chief of the National Defense magazine Igor Korotchenko believed that “The assassination of high-ranking Russian military officials in Russia itself or abroad will trigger a war between nuclear powers. In case of assassination of Russian generals like what the US did in the assassination of Gen. Soleimani, Russia's response will be decisive and vigorous.”

Pointing to the assassination of Gen. Soleimani, Russians would say that the United States had initiated a new series of assassinations of government officials on December 29. From that day on, in Iraq, the Americans began attacking Kataib Hezbollah.

According to a statement by the Russian Ministry of Defense, the assassination of Gen. Soleimani would exacerbate the political and military situation in the Middle East and would have a negative impact on the structure of international security. Washington's move would have serious consequences for regional security and peace, and would not help find solutions to the complicated and difficult issues in the Middle East, and, on the contrary, it would result in a new wave of tensions in the region.

Korotchenko added that the United States had lost its place in the world and was struggling to maintain its role as the leader of a unipolar world and that the unipolar system could no longer be a model for sustainable development. He went on to stress that "Russia and China have put the final nail into the coffin of American unipolarity."

Referring to the joint US threats against Russia, China and Iran, Regnum article called on those three states to formulate a unified strategy against the United States. It wrote that “Pompeo could not even imagine that Iran, Russia and China could point their missiles jointly towards the US if their generals were threatened again.” The article further read “To the United States, Iran is part of a larger strategy to contain threats from America's enemies." Iran would not be the only respondent to the US threats; Just as Iran was not alone in Syria's T-4 Base in the east of Homs, so are Russian troops. "Therefore, in Israeli or American attacks on the T-Four base, the threat will not be limited to the Iranians."

"The truth is that Russia, China and Iran have now realized that they are sitting on the same ship," the Russian website added.

The need for unity

Korotchenko stressed the need for unity and strategic agreement among Tehran, Moscow, and Beijing, saying: “On January 13, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo talked about the killing of Iranian, Russian and Chinese servicemen. Let's keep our eyes open. The United States has more openly resorted to assassination and killing than ever, and because assassination is part of its policy to contain the Russian, Chinese, and Iranian threats, all US anti-Russian and anti-Chinese actions are linked to the assassination of Gen. Soleimani. Even US regional demands in the Arctic or putting obstacles on the way of the Russian patrols in Syria or even obstacles created by the US Fifth Fleet in Bahrain for joint Russian-Iranian-Chinese exercises [are all linked to each other.]”

In fact, the assassination of Martyr Soleimani revealed and accelerated the need for a strategic alliance and agreement between the three countries of Iran, China and Russia. The alliance started to take shape after the joint naval exercise of the three countries.

According to the Financial Times, Jonathan Eyal, international director at the Royal United Services Institute in London, outlined the details of the joint Iran-China-Russia naval drill as saying that with the drill, Iran said that it is the great power in the Persian Gulf region, Russia portrayed itself as a leading player in the Middle East, and that China displayed that it has the world's largest naval power. The strategic message was that the three countries of Iran, Russia and China were shaping the events in the Middle East region.

From this perspective, the assassination of Gen. Soleimani was in fact the driving force behind the expulsion of the Americans from the region and the redrawing of geopolitics of the region through joint strategic and defense cooperation.

Moscow and Beijing have discussed the assassination of Gen. Soleimani several times, and their intention is to play a constructive role in de-escalating the current tension between Iran and the United States. According to China, Iran should not take military action in response to the US move. China and Russia want to promote peace and stability around the world, and their goal is to establish strategic stability in the Middle East.

But Moscow and Beijing's official stance and their commitment to de-escalation does not mean their indifference to the dangerous US heterodox actions. What is noticeable is the difference in the way they deal with the United States. The most noticeable result of avoiding a sensational reaction to the assassination of Martyr Soleimani can be seen in the formation of a strategic triangle alliance among Iran, Russia, and China.

Strategic triangle alliance: US heavy price for assassination

Strategic cooperation between Iran, Russia, and China come with benefits for each one of them, the value of which is not yet clear. But what is certain is the more beneficial the alliance is for the eastern side of the equation, the heavier price the western side has to pay. The western front, the US in particular, are losing their weight in the international system.

The US targeted assassination of Gen. Soleimani is not only problematic from a legal and moral perspective for the United States but also it may also have adverse effects over time through retaliatory actions on the part of Iran or its proxies.

The New York Times reported at the time that the assassination showed cleavages in the previous administration's approach to foreign policy. Assassination is illegal under international law and a taboo in American foreign policy. Apparently, Trump's national security team were fully aware that they were making contradictory remarks about an immediate threat from Gen. Soleimani.

According to the New York Times, the US show of force was not certainly a shield against Iran’s revenge. They must have thought that Iran would double its efforts to expel Americans from Iraq through its proxies.

An assassination that backfired

Some observers believe that the assassination of Gen. Soleimani which took place a few days after the Iran-Russia-China Maritime Security Belt Combined Exercise in the northern waters of the Indian Ocean and the Sea of Oman was aimed at provoking Iran into a war with the United States so that Russia and China reveal their position in the war to nib the alliance of China, Russia and Iran in the bud, but in practice that did not happen. Iran wisely avoided entering a war with the United States and instead strengthened its strategic agreements with China and Russia.

Dr. Yousef Sharbati touched upon this point in a column for Rai al-Youm newspaper: despite the US crime in assassinating Gen. Soleimani, at the NATO summit Iran was criticized, and it was a message to Russia and China that even if Iran was not to blame, NATO would stand by the US. Russia and China were not supposed to choose between Iran and the United States, but their choice should be between the West (Europe, the United States, NATO) and Iran. Germany, France and Britain all supported the United States, despite the fact that the assassination of Gen. Soleimani was a declaration of war on the part of the United States.

China, like Russia, sees Soleimani assassination as a direct threat against itself

Contrary to the wrong view that sought to target the Iran-Russia-China alliance with Gen. Soleimani assassination, Beijing says that the assassination was primarily aimed at China.

China's South China Morning Post wrote: The United States has tried to provoke China into an international conflict, and the assassination of Gen. Soleimani was in fact a direct threat to China from the United States because China has openly challenged American superiority.

The Chinese newspaper considered the American game to be very old and obsolete, saying: "What the United States sought to do with the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani was similar to what happened to Germany in World War I with the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, the Austrian prince that started war.”

This Chinese stance has a clear message that Beijing will not be part of the US belligerent game, but will not remain indifferent to the US assassinations.

For Russia and China, the assassination of Gen. Soleimani is a warning from the United States that it does not abide by any international rules, and only fear of the consequences of the crime can force Washington to abide by the rules of the conflict.

Mohammad Hadi Shamkhani is a political observer who focuses on West Asia region.

News Code 170163

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