TEHRAN – Andrew Korybko, an American geopolitical analyst, tells the Tehran Times that whatever the incoming American administration decides regarding the 2015 nuclear deal (JCPOA), Iran should play a key partner in China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) project.
Noting that Russia and China became comparatively much more important after the U.S. pulled out of the nuclear deal, the Moscow-based American political analyst says that “Iran should continue its efforts to become a crucial node along with China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI), in particular by considering the benefits of partnering with its flagship project of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).”
The geopolitical analyst also says all indications point to “Israel” as the chief culprit behind the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh on November 27. Korybko says the assassination was “intended to provoke Iran into carrying out a high-profile response that might then be exploited as the pretext for Trump to intensify pressure against it in what might be the final days of his presidency.”
The following is the text of the interview:
Q: How do you assess the assassination of the Iranian nuclear scientist and its repercussions?
A: It’s unclear who was responsible, but all indications point to “Israel”, which likely carried it out for several reasons. The first was tactical in the sense of eliminating an important Iranian nuclear energy scientist. The second was strategic in terms of the timing, which was intended to provoke Iran into carrying out a high-profile response that might then be exploited as the pretext for Trump to intensify pressure against it in what might be the final days of his presidency. Lastly, there was the soft power element of showing that “Israel” could assassinate an Iranian scientist inside Iran, which might improve domestic support for Netanyahu during his ongoing political crisis.
Q: Regarding the assassination, it seems it was collusion orchestrated by Pompeo, Netanyahu, and Mohammed bin-Salman in view of the fact that they met a couple of days before Fakhrizadeh was assassinated. What is your take?
A: The U.S.- “Israeli”-Saudi alliance predates their recent meeting and has been a staple of Mideast (West Asia) geopolitics for at least the past decade, if not several. The strategic coordination between those three can be referred to as “Cerberus”, after the three-headed hound of hell from Greek mythology. As for their reported meeting, it probably saw them putting the finishing touches on that plot and discussing their possible joint reaction in the event that Iran responds in a high-profile way shortly after the assassination. They likely also talked about ways those pro-Trump anti-Iran elements in the U.S. permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”) could sabotage any possible American-Iranian rapprochement under a Biden Administration.
Q: Some American figures, including former CIA chief John Brennan, asked Iran not to respond and wait until the new administration comes to power. Do you think the suggestion is reasonable?
A: Brennan is a political hack who opposes the Trump Administration at every turn. Nothing that he says should be taken seriously since it’s all motivated by partisanship. His role in this affair, whether intended or not, is to act as the “good cop” to Trump’s “bad cop”. It would be a serious mistake for any country, let alone one such as Iran which has been targeted by the U.S. for decades, to blindly follow the advice of a former CIA director. That’s not to say that there isn’t wisdom in waiting to respond if that’s what Iran decides to do, but just that this shouldn’t be done solely at the former CIA director’s behest but after an independent consideration of the strategic situation and thorough review of the pros and cons to every possible course of action.
Q: Why does nobody directly condemn Israel for its assassination operations all around the world? Suppose another country in West Asia was responsible for the assassination, what would be the reaction of Western media?
A: “Israel” is held to different standards than any other country by most of the world, largely due to that entity’s extensive influence network and intense information warfare. As regards Western states, “Israel” directs the bulk of its soft power messaging towards ensuring that they never forget about the Holocaust, which enables Tel Aviv to imply that anyone who doesn’t support its policy of regional aggression is “anti-Semitic”. Despite sounding ridiculous to non-Western observers, this narrative strategy is actually quite influential among the West because of the guilt that they’ve made to feel for not stopping the Holocaust. This in turn allows “Israel” to act with impunity as few dare to even condemn it for anything since those who do are then tarred and feathered in the media as “anti-Semites” even if they objectively aren’t anti-Semitic at all.
Q: How can Iran trust the U.S. while the White House pulled out of the nuclear deal and its ally Israel has been assassinating Iranian scientists?
A: Trust is relative in International Relations and very difficult to restore once it has been broken, as has been the case with American-Iranian relations for decades. Tehran therefore cannot trust Washington in the contemporary context, but what it can do is rationally assess the strategic situation when considering future courses of action. There might be times where pragmatic cooperation is necessary to advance Iranian interests, which was reportedly the case in the early days of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, but even those instances don’t represent sincere trust between the two but just a short-term convergence of interests. After all, that’s happened in bilateral relations over the past four years, it might very well be the case that trusts between the two won’t be restored for the indefinite future.
Q: In view of the fact that the West failed to observe its obligations under the JCPOA, don’t you think that Iran should focus more on Eastern powers like China and Russia even if the U.S. rejoins the JCPOA.
A: Phrasing the choice as an either-or one is inaccurate because it’s possible to pursue a multi-vectored foreign policy “balancing” between both sides. Even in the halcyon days of the JCPOA, Iran still retained strategic relations with China and Russia, but it’s just that they became comparatively much more important after the U.S. withdrew from the deal and the remaining Western countries practically abandoned it afterward under American pressure. Whatever a possible Biden Administration ends up doing regarding the JCPOA, Iran should continue its efforts to become a crucial node along with China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI), in particular by considering the benefits of partnering with its flagship project of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The economic geography is such that CPEC could be expanded in the western direction through the W-CPEC+ proposal for transforming Iran into China’s gateway to the larger West Asian marketplace so long as Tehran plays its cards right. Regardless of whatever else happens, Iran should prioritize its strategic partnership with China by doing its utmost to see to it that the W-CPEC+ vision succeeds.