Washington's sour grapes mentality in spotlight while most powers excited by China-brokered Saudi-Iran deal
Published: Mar 12, 2023 10:36 PM
Flags of Saudi Arabia and Iran Photo:VCG

Flags of Saudi Arabia and Iran Photo:VCG

Almost all the major media in the US and other countries admitted that the landmark agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran mediated by China to resume ties with an utter lack of US involvement can be regarded as a watershed in the Middle East, signaling the waning of Washington's influence and China's diplomatic philosophy, which aims to promote peace and development, being well-received across the region.

China, Iran and Saudi Arabia released a joint statement on Friday, saying that Saudi Arabia and Iran have agreed to re-establish ties and reopen their embassies within two months after a meeting in Beijing, news that made headlines around the world and became the most asked question at the White House on the day - How does the US feel about China doing what the US failed to do?

Washington has reacted with cautious optimism to the surprise Saudi-Iran deal. While saying it "welcomed" the deal and Beijing's efforts to de-escalate tensions in the region, Washington sought to downplay the development, underscoring that the US has also worked on de-escalation through its own deterrence and diplomacy, the VOA reported.

The deal, which came after years of grueling negotiations, was met with "sour grapes" in Washington, Russian media outlet Sputnik News pointed out in its report on Saturday.

Chinese analysts said that although Washington stated it "welcomed" the deal, it is very likely that the implementation of the agreement will encounter pressure or obstacles from the US, because China and the US have completely opposite goals and means in the Middle East.

Before the deal, Iran and Saudi Arabia have been at each other's throats for decades. This time the deal proved that with a sense of pursuing independent diplomacy in the region on the rise in recent years, China's diplomatic approach of non-interference in other countries' internal affairs while promoting dialogue and consultation is much more appealing than some countries' tactics of fueling confrontation to expand their own political domain in the Gulf region, Chinese analysts said. 

"Iran-Saudi Pact Is Brokered by China, Leaving US on Sidelines," the New York Times headline read before being revised to "Chinese-Brokered Deal Upends Mideast Diplomacy and Challenges US."  

The Saturday news report noted that the Americans, who have been the central actors in the Middle East for the past three-quarters of a century, now find themselves "on the sidelines during a moment of significant change," while the Chinese, who for years "played only a secondary role in the region," have suddenly transformed themselves into the new power player. 

The Wall Street Journal said on Saturday that China's brokering of the deal marked a new Middle East, as the region is undergoing tectonic geopolitical shifts as Arab Spring-fueled rivalries fade.

Similarly, the Washington Post revealed the development that embarrassed Washington with its lead reading "After decades of US failures in the region, China takes a turn as Middle East power broker."

"Unlike Washington, Beijing has shown an ability to transcend the many rivalries that criss-cross the Middle East," CNN reported.

The US government is actually worried about the development, which has lit up most other powers around the world, analysts said. They believe that Washington is afraid of the rising sense of pursuing independent diplomacy in the region as it could lose its dominant role in the Middle East.

After the 2021 withdrawal from Afghanistan and the purported paring down of the US troop presence in Syria, the China-brokered deal further "undercuts the posture of the US in the region."  

A commentary published by US think tank CSIS previously pointed out the US' "chaos strategy" in the Middle East. For a long time, all of the forces in the Middle East that have led to regional instability have grown worse and not better under the US' "chaos strategy," said the commentary, listing the examples of the so-called Arab Spring and Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Different from the US in building an alliance system to influence Middle East affairs, China has never formed a clique but has actively improved its relations with countries in the region and sought common development, Ding Long, a professor at the Middle East Studies Institute of Shanghai International Studies University, told the Global Times on Sunday.

It is clear that China's approach has been accepted and welcomed by most countries, which also proves that the decline of US influence in the Middle East is being caused by the US itself, not by China, Ding remarked.

Analysts also noted that the deal has set a positive example for other regional hotspot issues, such as the easing and settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In the future, China could play an important role in building a bridge for countries to solve long-standing thorny issues in the Middle East, just as it did this time.