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Pepe Escobar: Will Russia-China Strategic Patience Extinguish the Fire in West Asia?

© Sputnik / Sergey Karpuhin / Go to the mediabankChinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands during their meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands during their meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia. - Sputnik International, 1920, 21.11.2023
Once upon a time, by the Don river, in the southern steppes of what today is still known as “Ukraine”, the Great King of Persia, the mighty Darius, leading the most powerful army ever assembled on earth, received a puzzling message from a foe he was pursuing: the nomad ruler Idanthyrsus, King of the Scythians.
A Scythian envoy arrived at the Persian camp carrying a bird; a mouse; a frog; and five arrows.
And then he left, in a rush.
Wily Darius interpreted the message as the Scythians ready to submit to the Persians.
Not so fast. It was up to Darius’s senior foreign policy advisor, Gobryas, who also happened to be his brother-in-law, to break the code:
“Unless you Persians turn into birds and fly up in the air or into mice and burrow in the ground or into frogs and leap into lakes, you will never get home again but stay here in this country, only to be shot by Scythian arrows.”
Well, apparently this tale from the depths of the pre-Silk Roads proves the strategic nightmare of waging war against elusive nomadic horse archers on the Eurasian steppes.
But that could also be a tale about waging war against invisible urban guerrillas in sandals and RPGs hidden in the rubble in Gaza; flash mini-squads emerging from tunnels to hit and burn Merkava tanks before disappearing underground.
History also tells us that Darius failed to bring the Scythian nomads to a head-to-head battle. So, in the autumn of 512 B.C., he pulled a pre-American gambit in Afghanistan 2,500 years before the fact: he declared victory and left.

That Landed Aircraft Carrier

Everyone familiar with West Asia – from US generals to grocers in the Arab Street - knows that Israel is a landed aircraft carrier whose mission is to keep West Asia in check on behalf of the Hegemon.
Of course in a dog eats dog geopolitical environment it’s easy to misunderstand all wag the dog shenanigans. What’s certain is that for hegemonic circles of the US Deep State, and certainly for the White House and the Pentagon, what matters in the current incandescent juncture is the uber-extreme/genocidal Likud-led Netanyahu government in Israel, not “Israel” per se.
That projects Netanyahu as the exact mirror image of the beleaguered sweaty sweatshirt actor in Kiev. Quite the geopolitical gift – in terms of deflecting blame away from the Hegemon for a genocide deployed live on every smartphone on the planet.
And all that conducted under a veneer of legality – as in the White House and the State Department “advising” Tel Aviv to act with moderation; yes, you can bomb hospitals, schools, medical workers, journalists, thousands of women, thousands of children, but please be gentle.
Meanwhile, the Hegemon has deployed an Armada to the Eastern Mediterranean, complete with two very expensive iron bathtubs, sorry aircraft carrier groups plus a nuclear submarine close to the Persian Gulf. That’s not exactly to survey guerrillas in underground tunnels and to “protect” Israel.
The ultimate – neocon and Zio-con - targets are of course Hezbollah, Syria, Hashd al-Shaabi in Iraq and Iran: the whole Axis of Resistance.
Iran-Russia-China, the new neocon-defined “axis of evil”, which happen to be the Top Three Actors of Eurasia integration, for all practical purposes have interpreted the genocide in Gaza as an Israeli-American operation. And they have clearly identified the key vector: energy.
The inestimable Michael Hudson has noted how “we’re really seeing something very much like the Crusades here. It’s a real fight for who is going to control energy, because, again, the key, if you can control the world’s flow of energy, you can do to the whole world what the United States did to Germany last year by blowing up the Nord Stream pipelines.”

BRICS 10 on the Move

And that brings us to the fascinating case of the OIC/Arab World delegation of Foreign Ministers now on tour of selected capitals promoting their plan for a complete ceasefire in Gaza plus negotiations for an independent Palestinian state. The delegation, called the Gaza Contact Group, includes Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Indonesia, Nigeria and Palestine.
Their first stop was Beijing, meeting Wang Yi, and the second stop Moscow, meeting Sergei Lavrov. That tells us all we need to know about BRICS 11 in action – even before the fact.
Well, that’s actually BRICS 10, because after the election of pro-Hegemon Zionist Javier “Chainsaw Massacre” Milei for President, Argentina is now out of the picture, and possibly discarded by January 1st, 2024, when BRICS previously 11 starts under the Russian presidency.
The OIC/Arab League special conference on Palestine in Saudi Arabia had yielded a meek final declaration that disappointed virtually the whole Global South/Global Majority. But then something started to move.
Vladimir Putin - Sputnik International, 1920, 21.11.2023
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Foreign Ministers started to coordinate closely. At first Egypt with China, after previous coordination with Iran and Turkey. That may sound counter-intuitive – but it’s all due to the gravity of the situation. That explains why the Iranian Foreign Minister is not part of the current traveling delegation – which is led, in practice, by Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
The meeting with Lavrov coincided with an extraordinary online BRICS meeting on Palestine, called by the current South African presidency. Crucial point: the flags of new members Iran, Egypt and Ethiopia could be identified behind the speakers.
Iran’s President Raisi went no holds barred, calling for BRICS member states to use every political and economic tool available to pressure Israel. Xi Jinping called once again for a two-state solution and positioned China as the mediator of choice.
For the first time Xi in his own words laid it all out: “There can be no security in the Middle East without a just solution to the question of Palestine. I have emphasized on many occasions that the only viable way to break the cycle of Palestinian-Israeli conflict lies in a two-state solution, in the restoration of the legitimate national rights of Palestine, and in the establishment of an independent state of Palestine."
And it should all start via an international conference.
All of the above implies a concerted BRICS 10 unified position, in the next few days, applying maximum pressure on Tel Aviv/Washington for a ceasefire, fully supported by virtually the whole Global Majority. Of course there are no guarantees the Hegemon will allow it to succeed.
Secret negotiations involving Turkey, for instance, have floundered. The idea was to have Ankara cutting off the supply of oil to Israel coming from the BTC pipeline from Baku to Ceyhan: the oil is then loaded on tankers to Ashkelon in Israel. That’s at least 40% of the oil fueling Israel’s military machine.
Ankara, still a NATO member, balked – spooked by the inevitably hardcore American response.
Riyadh, in the long run, could be even more daring: no more oil exports until there’s a definitive solution to Palestine according to the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative. Yet MbS won’t do it – because Saudi wealth is all invested in New York and London. It’s still a long, winding, bumpy road to the petroyuan.
Meanwhile, realpolitik practitioners such as John Mearsheimer correctly point out that a negotiated solution for Israel-Palestine is impossible. A quick glance at the current map shows how the two-state solution – advocated by everyone from China and Russia to the Arab world – is dead; a Palestinian state, as Mearsheimer noted, “is going to be like an Indian reservation” in the US, “cut apart and isolated, not really a state.”

No Hedging When it Comes to Genocide

So what is Russia to do? Here is a very good informed hint.
“Putin in the Labyrinth” means Moscow actively involved, in a BRICS 10 manner, to bring about a peaceful West Asia while maintaining internal stability in Russia under the ever-evolving Hegemon Hybrid War: it’s all interconnected.
The Russia-China strategic partnership’s approach to West Asia set on fire by the usual suspects is all about strategic timing and patience – which the Kremlin and the Zhongnanhai exhibit in droves.
Russian President Vladimir Putin takes part in the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing on October 17, 2023.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 18.10.2023
Putin: China’s Belt and Road Initiative ‘in Sync With Russia’s Ideas on Large Eurasian Space’
No one really knows what goes on in the background – the deep shadow play behind the fog of intertwined wars. Especially when it comes to West Asia, always enveloped in serial mirages arising from the desert sands.
At least we may try to discern mirages around the Persian Gulf monarchies, the GCC – and especially what MbS and his mentor MbZ are really playing at. This is the absolutely crucial fact: both the Arab League and the OIC are controlled by the GCC.
And yet, as both Riyadh and Abu Dhabi become members of BRICS 10, they certainly see that the Hegemon’s new gambit is to set back the advances of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in West Asia by setting the region on fire.
Yes, this is the War against China morphing from Hybrid to Hot, side by side with the Final Solution for the “Palestinian problem”.
And as a bonus, from the Hegemon’s perspective, that should bring this bunch of desert bedouins firmly on board the new D.O.A. gambit, the IMEC (India-Middle East Corridor), which is in fact the Europe-Israel-Emirates-Saudi Arabia-India trade corridor, in theory a competitor to BRI.
A major running theme across all nooks and crannies of the Arab street is how killing off the Palestinian resistance is an even more passionate issue for the sold out GCC elites than confronting Zionism.
That explains, at least in part, the non-reaction reaction of the GCC to the ongoing genocide (they are now trying to make amends). And that is parallel to their non-reaction reaction to the Hegemon’s methodical, slow motion genocide, rape and pillaging over time of Iraqis, Syrians, Afghans, Libyans, Yemenis, Sudanese and Somalis.
It's absolutely impossible – and inhuman – to hedge when it comes to genocide. The verdict is still pending on whether the GCC has chosen a side, thus turning completely apart, spiritually and geopolitically, from the wider Arab street.
This genocide may be the defining moment of the young 21st century - realigning the entire Global South/Global Majority and clarifying who’s on the right side of History. Whatever it does next, the Hegemon seems destined to totally lose the entire West Asia, the Heartland, wider Eurasia and the Global South/Global Majority.
Blowback works in mysterious ways: as the “aircraft carrier” in West Asia went utterly insane, it only turbo-charged the Russia-China strategic partnership to mold History further on down the road to the Eurasia Century.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.
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