Could the peace deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia enable China to emerge as a major power in the Middle East? A key concern is how the U.S. perceives the deal, especially as its ally Israel considers a “potentially” nuclear Iran its chief rival. For now, Washington appears amenable to the deal, perhaps because it could help lessen Iran’s hostile approach, persuading it to desist from further nuclear enrichment even as “normalization” stops an exodus of refugees from Iraq, Syria and Lebanon to Europe. Down the line, there is the possibility of a “realistic” Arab recognition of Israel.
At the same time, Washington is increasingly disinclined to provide complex security arrangements to small Arab states threatened by the proxy conflict between Israel and Iran. This has opened a path for China to bolster its diplomatic credentials, using its capacity to transform regional economies technologically. Beijing’s immediate interest in regional stability stems from its dependence on Middle East oil and the last thing it wants is a regional conflict that might interrupt its energy supplies. For Saudi Arabia, the deal allows it to move past a reliance on the U.S., with officials heaping praise on “the noble initiative of His Excellency President Xi Jinping” for finalizing the peace deal.
If the peace deal makes one thing clear, it is that the world will have to accept China’s growing global influence despite U.S. attempts to exert pressure on it in the Pacific region. In fact, America’s bid to block China’s expansion eastward may have facilitated its move westward, triggering a new kind of competition. Some voices in Israel even see the “pragmatism” of Chinese diplomacy as key to normalization in the region. “Turkey is doing the same as Saudi Arabia with Iran. Ankara has been reconciling with countries it was hostile towards in the past, such as Israel and the Gulf. This means that in general the Middle East is now an arena of diplomacy, and not conflict. The Abraham Accords, Negev Forum, I2U2 (India, Israel U.A.E., U.S.) and other groupings have made this clear,” notes daily The Jerusalem Post. Pakistan must also accept this new world order, which could greatly benefit it in improving ties with Iran.