President Obama’s eagerness to set his Iranian partners-in-peace up with a fully functional economy and functional nuclear weapons is not generating much reciprocal affection from Tehran. Iran’s Fars news agency reports that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s top adviser for foreign affairs, Ali Akbar Velayati, declared his country “is keen to build closer military ties with China, welcoming Beijing to expand its naval presence worldwide.”
“It is right for China, as a great power, to do that. You see the United States is also sending its military vessels everywhere. It is China’s right to send its military vessels,” said Velayati, wasting no time in cozying up to the rising global hegemon, which is busy annexing disputed islands in the South China Sea, and has lately been wondering aloud if the U.S. and its Asian allies are prepared to fight a war to stop them.
He added that Iran was looking for more naval commerce with China: “We have to support the transshipment of goods between Iran and other countries. The same right applies to China. It is the right of a country to defend its own transshipment of goods.”
Fars notes that Iran and China have been talking up increased military cooperation, including both ground and naval forces, with the Chinese defense minister describing Iran’s armed forces as “our good friends.” Chinese warships docked in Iranian waters, at the Bandar Abbas port, for the first time ever in September 2014, while an Iranian flotilla toured the Sea of China in 2013.
Unsurprisingly, Velayati called for China to have an enhanced role in those nuclear talks, which Iran evidently does not consider anywhere near as settled as the Obama Administration likes to claim. “China and Russia have had a moderate position in the negotiation,” claimed the Iranian adviser. “If the Chinese position is more active, it will affect the continuation of the positive result of the talks.”
In other words, Iran knows Obama cannot walk away from that fleecing table, so they want added diplomatic muscle from their friends in Beijing to wring even more concessions out of him. Iran throws a pile of last-minute demands on the table; China puts a heavy hand on Obama’s shoulder and tells him to remain seated; the President thinks about how bad he will look if he walks away from his vaunted historic arrangement at the last moment, vindicating his critics, while also considering how much he wants to avoid any sort of economic, diplomatic, military, or electronic conflict with China in the final days of his presidency.
The new world order is taking shape, and it is not going to be an easy place for anyone on the wrong side of Beijing, Moscow, or Tehran.