The Negev Summit - The fall of the USA and the rise of China in the Middle East
0604.2022 | Yishai Gelb
The Summit held on the 27th of March 2022 symbolized the end of an age where the USA played the sheriff's role in the Middle East, and China with its proxy states take advantage of the growing opportunity to increase its influence in the Middle East.
The war in Ukraine has had many consequences reaching many countries globally. On top of the human suffering in the direct conflict, the war has implications for the Middle East. Russia is the third-largest oil producer and the largest exporter worldwide; 60% of Russia's exports go to OECD countries. And is also the second-largest producer globally, supplying the EU, China, and India with natural gas. As a part of the Western use of sanctions to try and deter Russia, the West cannot afford to boycott fossil fuel flow from Russia as not to increase energy prices at home and risk civil unrest. Therefore the USA and the EU want to sign a deal with Iran as soon as possible to relieve the energy markets by flooding them with Iranian oil and gas.
The ramifications of signing a deal with Iran that will lift sanctions, increase the cash flow into the country, possibly lift the terrorist status from the revolutionary guards, and pave the way to a nuclear weapon down the road might be in the USA’s energy best interest. Still, not its allies in the region.
Iran is a longtime enemy of Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the Gulf states. The USA, the last superpower in the region who policed the area for the past few decades, is pivoting to the far East and is no longer committed to the security of its allies in the Middle East, leading to the Abraham accords, and now the Negev Sumit. The war in Ukraine also taught the countries of the world that when push comes to shove, they will be on their own against any threat to their security. The UN won’t be there to help, and neither will the USA.
So, where does China come into the picture?
80% of the energy market is traded in USD. This monopoly grants the USA complete control of the energy market and the flow of energy around the world, including who gets to sell on the open market. The USA promised Saudi Arabia that if they stayed committed to trading fossil fuels in USD, they would be committed to their security. However, the signing of the Iran deal and the war in Ukraine shows otherwise. Such an opportunity is being seized by the Chinese government, which is a growing client of Saudis. The Chinees are currently in talks with the Saudis to sell their oil and gas in the Chinese Yuan. Another step that China is taking toward economic domination, is now in the energy market, and now in the Middle East. No wonder the Suadi prince didn't pick up the phone, twice, when the US president gave him a call.
On the bright side, the Negev Summit does shine a light on Israel’s growing force in the Middle East and the world stage. The Negev Summit is another step in the failing influence of the USA in the Middle East and Israel’s growing role and position in the region.