European powers, Russia and China have interests in the Middle East, making them unwilling to clash between the United States and Iran out of control.
Washington-Tehran tensions escalated after the US airstrike on the killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, as well as the Iranian ballistic response. Although the situation has calmed and is difficult to lead to war, experts still believe that their consequences are not only a matter between the US and Iran, but also affect a number of world powers.
“European Union (EU) will definitely fall into an awkward position. They want to mediate between Washington and Tehran but it seems impossible to influence both sides, “said US-based intelligence consulting firm Stratfor.
Representatives of participating countries signed JCPOA 2015. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.
The US expressed its reluctance to want the EU to act as a mediator when President Donald Trump repeatedly asked Britain, Germany and France to abandon a nuclear deal called the Comprehensive Joint Action Plan (JCPOA) signed with Iran in 2015. Washington pulled out of the deal in 2018 and re-imposed sanctions on Tehran.
EU-Iran relations themselves are complex. Britain, Germany and France are struggling to persuade Iran to comply with the JCPOA, in the context that Tehran has continuously reduced its commitment to respond to Washington sanctions. The governments of the three countries also criticized Iran’s ballistic missile program and threatened to impose sanctions.
Britain, Germany and France on January 14 activated a “dispute resolution mechanism” under the JCPOA, accusing Iran of violating the terms of its nuclear program restriction. The move is intended to force Tehran to comply with the agreement if it does not want to be punished by these powers. However, it also shows that the EU wants to maintain the JCPOA through diplomatic and multilateral mechanisms.
Despite publicly condemning Iran to attack the base with US troops stationed in Iraq, both Britain and France secretly persuaded the US not to retaliate against the military on concern that the EU would be negatively affected if the conflict spreads in Middle East.
European countries are concerned that Iran will develop nuclear power but it also faces the risk of pro-Iranian militias, which are an important part of the fight against the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq. weaken. Increased Middle East instability also caused the EU to suffer more waves of migrants, accompanied by terrorism that erupted across the continent.
The Tor-M1 air defense missile was sold to Iran in 2005. Photo: AFP.
Iran is an important pillar in the Middle East’s strategy of expanding influence in the Middle East Russia. In addition to competing influence with the West, Moscow also wants to boost arms exports and economic activities in the region.
“Russia will want to maintain JCPOA in some form, but Russia-Iran cooperation is not entirely dependent on this. If JCPOA breaks down and Iran is re-imposed sanctions, Russia can adjust cooperation. to limit the impact of secondary sanctions, but certainly not cut ties because Tehran is a useful partner in the Middle East, “Stratfor experts said.
However, Western sanctions against Iran could also force Russia to consider before supporting the construction of a nuclear plant or handing over modern weapons such as the S-300 air defense missile to Tehran. This could cause Moscow to lose part of its revenue directly from defense contracts, along with many associated agreements if the JCPOA breaks down.
Russia is likely to still support Iran cautiously, because it will help Russia continue to expand its regional influence. Breaking ties will make Tehran a political competitor of Moscow in the war as well as the process of rebuilding Syria.
China also wants to ensure stability in the Persian Gulf due to economic interests and protection of oil supplies. A protracted crisis or military conflict in the region could disrupt oil supplies and spike crude prices, threatening Beijing’s human resources and assets in the Middle East, as well as destabilizing global economy. This is not conducive to China’s development.
Regional escalation tensions also challenge Beijing’s policy of maintaining cautious relations with Middle Eastern countries. China will be in a difficult position when it has to balance with Iran and its rivals such as the United States, Saudi Arabia and Israel.
Russian President Putin (left) and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in Russia in June 2019. Image: Reuters.
Iran, an important oil supplier to China, also plays a vital role in its ambition to expand its presence and compete with the United States. However, Beijing has adjusted its relations with Tehran so as not to jeopardize cooperation with Gulf countries, as well as to avoid additional sanctions imposed on Iranian companies.
Beijing is constantly calling for the promotion of peace and dialogue to protect interests in the Middle East, and to shake hands with Europe to maintain JCPOA and find other diplomatic channels.
“China will likely continue to maintain a traditional approach of focusing on diplomacy, restricting direct participation in issues in the Middle East to avoid being drawn into complex ethnic and religious conflicts.” , Stratfor experts predict.
Duy Son (Follow Business Insider)