Will China Be the Middle East’s Next Hegemon?
Despite its troop drawdown in Afghanistan, America's military superiority in the Middle East will probably remain undisputed for some time. But military power will not be enough to stem China’s strategic rise in the region.
TEL AVIV – US President Joe Biden has announced that he will withdraw American troops from Afghanistan by September 11, finally ending his country’s longest war ever. The move was indicative of a broader shift by the United States away from the Middle East – one that has been a long time coming. Will anyone take its place in the region?
China seems to hope so. Just a couple of weeks before Biden’s announcement, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi was in Tehran to sign a 25-year “comprehensive strategic partnership” (CSP) deal with Iran, which will include economic, political, and security cooperation. The move has the US concerned – and for good reason.
Yes, CSPs are a standard foreign-policy tool for China, which has already established them with other countries in the region, including Iraq and Saudi Arabia. And some have most likely exaggerated the scope of the CSP with Iran, such as by reporting that it includes $400 billion of Chinese investment in Iran. (Neither party has confirmed any specific figure.)