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Monday, July 27, 2020

What is the ‘golden ring’ axis?

China continues to consolidate power and strengthen ties with Asian countries
In a geopolitical response to the decline of the Western influence in South Asia and West Asia, China, Russia, Iran, Pakistan, and Turkey envisage a “golden ring” axis to expand their hegemony on South and West Asia.
The vision of the golden ring of China, Russia, Iran, Pakistan, and Turkey was first disclosed recently by Iran’s ambassador to Pakistan.
The effort to forge an alliance surfaced after Afghanistan refused to be drawn into the golden ring axis. Kabul does not trust their immediate neighbour Pakistan and the nation has not forgotten the ruthless Russian occupation installing a puppet regime.
Afghanistan squarely blames Pakistan’s elite security agency in Rawalpindi GHQ for aiding and abetting ruthless Taliban militia.
Kabul is equally not comfortable with the Islamic Republic of Iran. The assassinated General Qasem Soleimani of the elite Al Quds military had recruited Afghan Shia militia to fight the Kabul government, which Iran believes is a stooge of the Americans, and thus an enemy of Islam.
Contrary to US perceptions, the Kremlin realizes the importance of Pakistan for a peaceful settlement of the Afghan conflict. Unfortunately, Afghanistan seemed to have disappeared from the White House radar in the run-up to the US Presidential Elections.
The US author Robert D Kaplan wrote in his book, The Revenge of Geography: “Pressure on land can help the United States thwart China at Sea.” But post exit from Afghanistan, America will lose that advantage since its “pivot Asia” will be largely reduced to the high seas.
Well, the US has been an undisputed global power since the collapse of the Soviet Union. China has risen from Mao’s anti-capitalist policy into a strong rival to the US. The Trump administration’s aggressive foreign policy is pushing away China and pulling closer allies who were never their loyal partners in economic development.
China has strengthened its ties with countries that were ignored or bullied by America. Therefore, the emergence of a new golden ring of China, Russia, Iran, Pakistan, and Turkey is becoming a reality.
China has fathomless pockets to fund economic development, and forging ties with Iran, Pakistan, Russia, and Turkey to join the ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
In 2019, Iran formally joined China’s “One Belt One Road” initiative. Tehran announced that it has partnered with Beijing for the strategist Chabahar port in Iran. It will make Iran an integral part of the BRI, linking China with Europe via Turkey.
Turkey, despite being an ally of the NATO military alliance, has drifted from Washington in recent times.
Ankara’s occupation of Northern Cyprus for more than four decades, military assistance to rogue rebel General Haftar opposed to UN-backed Libyan government, intermittent military strikes against Kurds -- the bravehearts who fought the dreaded Islamic State marauder -- has angered not only the US, but also European nations.
America could have said “checkmate” when US aircraft carriers and hosts of battleships were joined by naval forces of Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Indonesia to take strategic control of the South China Sea, where China wanted its hegemony of the disputed sea.
Meanwhile, after the Galwan Valley face-off between India and China, India has readied its naval fleet in the Indian Ocean, rallying with US frigates from the Seventh Fleet, a tacit threat to China maritime for oil shipment from Iran. The manipulative geopolitical strategy in Asia may yield dividends which could be measured with a yardstick. Eventually, it needs to be understood about who will reap the maximum gain from the golden ring axis.

First published in the Dhaka Tribune, 27 July 2020

Saleem Samad is an independent journalist, media rights defender, recipient of Ashoka Fellowship, and Hellman-Hammett Award. He can be reached at Twitter @saleemsamad

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