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IRAQ AND CHINA

January 8, 2016 By Joseph P. Farrell

You may have missed this story from last year as the holidays loomed, and more particularly because the lamestream media of the West was busy with infotainment and the American presidential (s)election non-race, but there was another significant development in the Middle East as Iraq's leader, Mr. Haidar al-Abadi headed to Beijing for talks with Chinese Premier Xi Jinping, according to this article shared by Mr. B.:

ISIS, Chinese investment in focus as Iraqi PM heads to China

Note carefully the following comments, for this is another story to watch in 2016, namely, China's increasing role in the Middle East:

Abadi will hold talks with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and President Xi Jinping, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said. Talks between the leaders are expected to focus on the fight against Islamic State as well as bilateral ties between China and Iraq. Abadi has said he will ask for increased Chinese investment to rebuild the country.

Over the past year Iraq has received weapons systems from China, Russia and Iran. China is the top foreign player in Iraq’s oilfields, which are the largest in the Middle East open to foreign investment.

Ahead of his trip to Beijing, Abadi said that his country is working on deepening relations with China, saying “we are seeking to promote such relations in all aspects, in particular in investment and rebuilding infrastructure.”(Emphasis added)

I suggest that what this represents is an almost complete failure of American policy in the region, as Iraq was left essentially devasted by the American and British invasion of the country in the wake of 9/11. You'll note that Mr. Abadi is asking for Chinese help in rebuilding his country's infrastructure, and for real assistance in combatting ISIS in the wake of America's failures in this regard, highlghted more recently by Mr. Putin's decision to intervene in Syria.

The message here could not be plainer, at least from Baghdad's standpoint: America simply cannot be trusted, period. Indeed, its track record of deceptions vis-a-vis the crucial Middle Eastern country is dismal at best, and began the long descent of Iraq into chaos when the US Ambassador to Saddam Hussein's Iraq, April Glaspie, basically "greenlighted" the invasion of Kuwait that forged the pretext for the first Gulf War during the administration of G.H.W. Bush. Notably, IRaq is now receiving weapons systems from China, Russia, and former enemy, Iran.

But I suggest that the real story here is again the infrastructure story, and China's determination to build out and build up infrastructure in Central Asia. For this long range plan to work, and provide the type of economic benefit to CHina and Russia that both countries are seeking, there must be stability in the Middle East, and that cannot occur so long as terrorist organizations (and their state sponsors, and we all know who one of those principals is), are allowed to destabilize the region. Hense, Beijing, which faces its own internal Islamic terrorism threats in its western provinces, has a vested interest in strengthening ties with Iraq, and in stabilizing the country by helping to build(and re-build) its infrastructure. Mr. Abadi summed this all up in language that might be charactirized as a plea for help:

Abadi will hold talks with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and President Xi Jinping, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said. Talks between the leaders are expected to focus on the fight against Islamic State as well as bilateral ties between China and Iraq. Abadi has said he will ask for increased Chinese investment to rebuild the country.

Over the past year Iraq has received weapons systems from China, Russia and Iran. China is the top foreign player in Iraq’s oilfields, which are the largest in the Middle East open to foreign investment.

Ahead of his trip to Beijing, Abadi said that his country is working on deepening relations with China, saying “we are seeking to promote such relations in all aspects, in particular in investment and rebuilding infrastructure.”

And lest there be any misunderstanding of how Iraq views the USA, Mr. Abadi had this to say:

Abadi has also lashed out at the Obama administration for its proposed deployment of special forces – part of an expeditionary force – to Iraq and Syria to fight the Islamic State.

Abadi called the US plan a “hostile act of aggression” and a “breach of Iraq’s sovereignty”.

The Iraqi Prime Minister has also said the US-led coalition’s fighting against the Islamic State “was not at the level of our ambition, we hoped fast and direct support, but it was slow and not as we wanted”.

Abadi also described the latest Saudi Arabia’s announcement to form a 34-state Islamic military coalition to combat terrorism, as a “unreal” and “strategic mistake.”

Note, that as far as Baghdad is concerned, the USA and Saudi Arabia are being fingered as the primary agents of the destablization of the region. More importantly, note that Mr. Abadi is talking Putin's language: national sovereignty still matters, and in that capacity, as the leader of a sovereign nation, he is (1) charging the USA with a breach of Iraq's sovereignty, and (2) asking the Chinese for help, economically, and militarily.

This is yet another story to watch for 2016, for in my high octane speculative prediction of the day, I suspect China's response will be slow, and gradual, but nonetheless quite real and significant. It may likely begin with pledges of financial help, CHinese experts to assist with the construction and re-building of infrastructure, and eventually, a small cadre of Chinese military units to reinforce the point. In this respect, recall that last year China opened a base on the southern tip of the Red Sea in northwest Africa, a point that cannot have been lost on Washington...and Riyadh. The bottom line here is that in the power vacuum and chaos of Washington's policies in the region since 9/11, one of the region's most crucial countries has asked for help, and turned eastward to find it. Once those steps are taken, then Baghdad might request assistance to defeat ISIS, Saudi Arabia's proxy army, in that country.

All these moves imply something else that one might watch in 2016, for these moves will inevitably pressure the policy pundits of the West, and in particular of the USA, to examine America's long term commitments to the desert Kingdom, for if any relationship with the other countries of the region is to be maintained and repaired, they will insist on that re-examination, and that that re-examination be accompanied by measurable changes in policy. It is conceivable that it might even become a matter of discussion during the theater of the American presidential (s)election process. But don't look for any real moves until after the (s)election. It is, however, a reassessment that is inevitable, for it is now evident for all to see that any nations with any real choice left, are rejecting the Ottomania of Erdogan, the recklessness and medieval barbarism of Riyadh, and the loony insanity of Washington. Washington's policies have created a vacuum of instability, and Moscow and Beiking are being asked to fill it.

See you on the flip side...