The Eurasian Triple Alliance: The Strategic Importance of Iran for Russia and China
China, the Russian Federation, and Iran are widely considered to be allies and partners. Together the Russian Federation, the People's Republic of China, and the Islamic Republic of Iran form a strategic barrier directed against U.S. expansionism. The three countries form a "triple alliance," which constitutes the core of a Eurasian coalition directed against U.S. encroachment into Eurasia and its quest for global hegemony.
While China confronts U.S. encroachment in East Asia and the Pacific, Iran and Russia respectively confront the U.S. led coalition in Southwest Asia and Eastern Europe. All three countries are threatened in Central Asia and are wary of the U.S. and NATO military presence in Afghanistan.
Iran can be characterized as a geo-strategic pivot. The geo-political equation in Eurasia very much hinges on the structure of Iran's political alliances. Were Iran to become an ally of the United States, this would seriously hamper or even destabilize Russia and China. This also pertains to Iran's ethno-cultural, linguistic, economic, religious, and geo-political links to the Caucasus and Central Asia.
Moreover, were the structure of political alliances to shift in favour of the U.S., Iran could also become the greatest conduit for U.S. influence and expansion in the Caucasus and Central Asia. This has to do with the fact that Iran is the gateway to Russia's soft southern underbelly (or "Near Abroad") in the Caucasus and Central Asia.
In such a scenario, Russia as an energy corridor would be weakened as Washington would "unlock" Iran's potential as a primary energy corridor for the Caspian Sea Basin, implying de facto U.S. geopolitical control over Iranian pipeline routes. In this regard, part of Russia's success as an energy transit route has been due to U.S. efforts to weaken Iran by preventing energy from transiting through Iranian territory.
If Iran were to "change camps" and enter the U.S. sphere of influence, China's economy and national security would also be held hostage on two counts. Chinese energy security would be threatened directly because Iranian energy reserves would no longer be secure and would be subject to U.S. geo-political interests. Additionally, Central Asia could also re-orient its orbit should Washington open a direct and enforced conduit from the open seas via Iran.
Thus, both Russia and China want a strategic alliance with Iran as a means of screening them from the geo-political encroachment of the United States. “Fortress Eurasia” would be left exposed without Iran. This is why neither Russia nor China could ever accept a war against Iran. Should Washington transform Iran into a client then Russia and China would be under threat.
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