The peoples of Asia, in particular those of the Persian Gulf, carry within them, cultural norms, and identities that span millenia. Persia and China have dominated the scene, with footnotes from Portugal and Britain. Persia’s influence began with Elam in the bronze age at ~ 2700 BCE, succeeded by the Assyrians 900-700 BCE, the Medes 700-500 BCE, the Achaemenids which extended control to the south coast of the Persian Gulf by 490 BCE, and from what is now Tunisia to Xingjang Province in the PRC, southward from today’s Kzahstan to the sea, the kingdom of Alexander conquered this space, and extended their control to what is now Pakistan between 324-200 BCE.
However, it was the Parthians who incorporated the littoral territories of the southern coast of the Persian Gulf into their domain between 200-100 BCE. The Sassanides added what is now Yemen, Oman, Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Turkey, Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbijan, consolidating their control between 226-650 AD.
The arrival of Muhammad 570-632 AD, brought new energies to the peoples of the Arabian Peninsula, giving rise to Islam. Wars of conquest, beginning about 610 AD, built the Arabian Empire, which morphed into the Caliphate , eventually encompassing all territories from the Iberian Peninsula to China, including the north coast of africa, the Arabian Peninsula, Turkey, Mesopotamia, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan by 725 AD.
By 1000AD the Caliphate fractured, with the Buwayhid state controlling the territory of what became Persia, founding the Seljuq empire by 1194 AD. The Seljuqs were succeeded by the Timurids in 1405 AD. The arrival of Ismail in 1501 ended their reign. Ismail and his successors converted their domain from Sunni to Shia, establishing the Safavid empire, in the process laying the foundations of modern Persia by 1726 AD, including competition with the Uzbeks and Ottomans. This period saw a profound change in trading patterns, with the Portugese conquering Hormuz by 1507, demanding tribute, and establishing a fortified trading station there. The Portuguese were followed by european firms such as the British East India Company which established a residency in 1763 at Busher on the Persian Coast.
The Safavids were followed by the Qajars between 1794 and 1905. Seeking to modernize their domain, they gave territorial and business concessions to various european powers. The arrival of the French in 1807 galvanized the English into ratifying a treaty with Persia in 1809, which was the foundation of Anglo-Persian relations until the arrival of Khomeni, despite Persian attempts at independence during the constitutional periods of 1905-1925 and Mossadegh in 1953.
Prior to the arrival of the Portuguese, the trade route from Calicut in India to Tyre in Lebanon was dominated by the Chinese beginning with the Yuan Dynasty in 1271 and expanded by the Ming dynasty after they came to power in 1368. In 1273 Kublai Khan created the world’s first bank notes (paper money), giving rise to letters of credit and other international banking arrangements facilitating trade. Under Chinese tutelage, Hormuz became a major trading center for goods bound westward via the Persian Gulf-Euphrates River- Syrian Desert route to Tyre on the Mediterranean Sea. Hormuz remained the gateway to this route until the Portuguese were replaced by the Safavids who shifted the station to Bandar Abbas. Zhung He in particular led 7 expeditions to the region for the purpose of solidifying Chinese hegemony between 1405-1433.
The Chinese concept of tribute, however, differed markedly from that practiced by the european powers. To the Chinese, tribute signified respect, not subservience, and the Chinese reciprocated via offering their silks, teas, jade, ceramics, and technologies in exhange for goods sourced from the tributary state. The Chinese did not interfere in the domestic affairs of tributary states, preferring to gain influence through marriage between tributary elites and concubines sent to them for that purpose. Following completion of the grand canal and the death of Emperor Zhu Di, his successor, Zhu Zhanji, the Zhengtong Emperor commissioned a seventh and final voyage. Confucian scholars convinced Zhu Zhanji to scrap the navy, and to abandon international trade, just prior to the arrival of the Portuguese at Macau in 1557. Absence of the Chinese Navy on the trade routes left them open to usurpation by the European powers, led by Portugal, followed soon thereafter by the Spanish and Dutch, with the English arriving by the late 1700s.
This situation prevailed in China until president Nixon opened china 5 centuries later in 1972, giving rise to Deng Xiaopeng, Hu Jintao, and the One Belt One Road initiative. In the process, China has opened itself to the world, modernized and expanded it’s economy, and become a trading center around which states array themselves.
Russia’s influence on the nations bordering the Persian Gulf began in the 19th century when a resurgent Russia found itself in conflict with Persia for lands and resources abutting the Caspian Sea. Russia took Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbijan from Persian influence and control, together with Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Russia competed with Britain for control of the mineral resources of Persia/Iran, going so far as to divide control of Persia with Britain during WWII. This generated the great animosities held by the Pahlavi dynasty, Khomeini, and his successsors. The Soviet Union added further fuel to this fire via alliances with Iraq, Syria, Egypt, and Libya, most of whom disliked Iran. Iraq relied primarily on Soviet weapons during the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-1988, while Iran had to make do with whatever american weapons remained after the Shah was deposed.
Collapse of the Soviet Union was followed by experimentation with neo-classical macro-economic ideas promulgated by american schooled economists, primarily from Harvard and Yale. These proved a disaster. When Putin came to power, Russia’s economy had shrunk to 40% of it Soviet Maximum, middle aged male suicide was at epidemic proportions, much of the populace was starving, critical infrastructure was crumbling, and NATO came closer and closer each year. The arrival of Hu Jintao as premier of the PRC in 2002 gave rise to a personal friendship between Hu and Putin which led to profound changes in Russian macro-economics, and in the way Russia interacts with neighboring states. Always a non-agressor state preferring diplomacy, Putin’s engagement with Hu leavened these policies with ancient Chinese policies toward tributary states.
Where the Soviet Union always sought advantage over dependent states, we now see Russia forming symbiotic relationships to mutual advantage. This was evinced by Russia and China jointly creating the SCO. From humble beginnings, the SCO has grown to encompass China, Russia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, India, and Kyrgyzstan. Mongolia and Iran are observers, with Iran slated to join next year. Furthermore Russia and China guided the nuclear 5+1 agreement which normalized Iran’s relationship with the UN and ended UN sanctions against her. We now see Russia forming a deep pragmatic relationship with Iran, to the point they are allies in the Proxy war between the US-Israeli-Qatari-Saudi alliance and Syria.
Chinese influence runs deep in Asia. Originating with Ghengis Khan, spread throughout the mongol empire, the Chinese way of win-win tributary relationships, has spread from the Baltic to the Bering, from the Arctic to the Indian Ocean, and across the Atlantic to the Caribbean. Diametrically different from the winner take all policies of the European powers and their successors, Chinese pragmatism, confounds Anglo-Zionist observers. The Chinese are back. Their navy is conducting exercises in the Straits of Hormuz now. Their goods can be found in every nation on earth. Their nationals ditto. It is the Chinese who found a way to implement the Iran-Pakistan freedom pipeline regardless of stringent US objections. It is they who built a gas pipeline from Gwadar Port to western china across the hindu-kush, ostensibly for LNG, routing it within 20 miles of the Iranian border where the iranian portion terminates, thence completing the missing link surreptitiously, bringing Iranian gas to market after nearly 30 years of US obstructionism.
It is probably the Chinese who suggested Iran offer Qatar access to Asian markets and the EU via Iranian pipelines after clearing it with Gazprom. It is probably the Chinese who suggested offering some of this gas to Turkey to power it’s economy. No less an observer than Pepe Escobar hints at this in his latest report.
8 Key POINTS:
- The south coast Gulf Littoral states were part of Persia for centuries, were converted to Shia Islam by the Safavids in the 16th century, and their peoples have great cultural affinity towards Iran.
- Bahrain in particular was taken from Iran at the initiative of the Shah via UN resolution in
1970, via a UN mission which was supposed to grant them independence. Following this the Al Khalifa clan assumed the throne, with Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa the current monarch.
- Oman in particular has had a long friendly relationship with Iran.
- The UAE has a grudge against Iran because the Shah took Abu Musa, and the Greater and Lesser Tumbs from her, together with vast petroleum deposits once held by Armand Hammer in what previously was the Sultanate of Sharjah
- For the past 6 years Qatar has been allied with KSA in their battle to market their petroleum products to the EU, via dis-memberment of Syria. It is now apparent that Syria will not be dismembered.
- For quite some time, Russia, Iran, and China have engaged in diplomacy with all the GCC states, the specifics of which are not known.
- Recently, information has leaked regarding a pipeline deal offered by Iran to Qatar,
permitting Qatar to market it’s gas to Pakistan/India and to the EU via Iranian pipelines.
Such an arrangement, should it exist, would leave KSA and the UAE out in the cold.
Most likely Turkey has been offered some of this gas to run it’s economy.
- Though Whabbist, Qatar does not mandate the chador, and is actually quite modernist.
The row between Qatar and KSA/GCC is most likely due to capitulation by Qatar in their contest with Iran/Iraq/Syria for a route to market their petroleum products.
Capitulation to Iran’s offer of transit via Iranian pipelines to both asia and europe.
The offer to market to the EU has the blessing of Gazprom/Russia.
This offer is a pragmatic means to divide the forces funding ISIS and the other terrorist groups.
If this is indeed the case, we should see disarray among the various terrorist groups with those sponsored by KSA fighting the others, and the groups formerly sponsored by Qatar suddenly left in the lurch.
The consequence of this should be a much weakened proxy force for the R+6 to deal with.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.