Why the trade and military agreements between Russia, Iran and China will eventually lead to an Iranian disadvantage and greater suffering of the Iranian People

One might think, that foreign powers viscously exploit Iran, hurting the Iranian people and depleting their hope for a humanly bearable future. There is much to this assumption, but none of it even comes close to the disgraceful maneuver of the IRGC, which facilitates the interests of these foreign powers as part of their plan to take over the Iranian state.

Iran joining Russia and China in an effort against Western powers shouldn’t come as a surprise. Iran’s connection to the pariah states, especially Venezuela, is probably a weak attempt at enlarging the market. All of these had up until recent times only little merits. The reason for it is, that most of these states are under severe sanctions, cannot trade in USD, produce very much the same and have only little infrastructure to develop a needed capability. But, among the blind, a one-eyed man is king, and that king is a mandarin.

The only effective economy that takes part in this grouping is that of China, who will do almost anything to achieve an edge on the West, but will never harm that very same market. The rest will work among themselves, trying to improve trade, not for growth, but for survival. The very essence of it showing in the fact that much of the trade is of military products, drones for fighter planes, ammunition for military tech.
Whenever it comes to effective trading, the small ones are left out: Russia widened her energy supply to China, but Iran didn’t get to be part of it. Iran tries to provide Russia with cars and automobile parts, but this will probably not allow winnings as these parts are considered low-tech and even lower quality. Even when it comes to Venezuela, where Iran has a serious foothold for many years, especially when it comes to the oil industry, the current difficulties lead to Russian involvement with potential investments, not to Iranian facilitation, as it used to be in the not-too-distant past.

Iran feels the rising pressure within, but it also acknowledges the regional pressure. While Turkey and Saudi-Arabia de-escalate, Israel and the Emirates are getting closer, the regional balance is shifting. Iran must focus on her neighbors in central Asia, to counter Turkey’s growing power and pave her way for the EAEU and the SCO to survive the sanctions and political isolation. With the relevant trade agreements with Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, Iran builds a capability to become a major alternative as a transit corridor, as the Russian option is less attractive due to the Ukraine war. With approx. 100 USD per ton of goods as a transit fee, this might become a lucrative source of income. Still, central Asia does not view Iran as an ideal trade partner. They all look to the East and see that the 25-year strategic cooperation agreement between China and Iran is in fact motivated by China’s drive to get discount oil for cheap customer goods in barter deals. In the mean time a third option through Turkey and Georgia might threaten Iranian efforts. Again, the best chances for Tehran to survive is to stick with Russia and China, at any cost.

The cost rises all the time, as China is getting stronger and Iran has no alternatives. Even after China supported UAE territorial claims against Iran in the matter of the three islands – Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa – all Tehran did was call the Chinese envoy to express “deep dissatisfaction”. It seems that China is going for plan B, while the GCC countries are not under sanctions and the talks for JCPOA show no future. Once again Xi visited Saudi-Arabia and left Iran to his vice prime-minister Hu, choosing pragmatism over protocol, future over tradition.

If we are looking at the formation of a new order, we should better take a look at Putin’s visit to Tehran to a tri-lateral meeting that included Erdogan. One can not overlook the discomfort of the later. Turkey will not be drawn into the Russian-Chinese agenda, as Erdogan wants to remain allegedly neutral, capable of keeping a role in NATO, a role as a middle-man to Russia and the role of main alternative to Chinese production. The economic issue is of profound survival consequence.

The bottom line is, that in both triangles with Russia, Iran is the weakest player, the one to be exploited, the one who has no choice. China gets discount oil and barters discount commodities, promising investments and infrastructures that never come. Russia gets missiles and drones and barters future arms deals and international backing, mind you, from a sanctioned and black-listed Russia struggling to prove legitimacy on a national level, and Putin to survive as a leader on a personal level.

This makes you wonder, whether the pragmatists in the Iranian leadership don’t see where this is leading. Not that at this stage they can turn things to the better, but at least produce some alternatives. For now, Iran has become the foot mat of its associates. The IRGC wants to take over the country and will bow on behalf of Iran before anyone that might help them in this effort. IRGC leads on supplies for Russia, with drones and missiles, IRGC leads on illegal oil for China and other clients, IRGC leads the hardliners against the JCPOA and IRGC leads on brutally fighting off protesters, all of which weaken the pragmatic leadership, that understands that the Iranian people need a future, need prospect and need promise.
Never before has Iran reached a level so low, when the future of the people is sold cheap, not even to the highest bidder, when a once so proud Iranian is made a slave of his own government