by Pepe Escobar, first published at The Cradle and posted with the author’s permission
The meeting this week between two Eurasian security bosses is a further step toward dusting away the west’s oversized Asian footprint.
Two guys are hanging out in a cozy room in Tehran with a tantalizing new map of the world in the background.
Nothing to see here? On the contrary. These two Eurasian security giants are no less than the – unusually relaxed – Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev and Ali Shamkhani, the Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council.
And why are they so relaxed? Because the future prospects revolving around the main theme of their conversation – the Russia-Iran strategic partnership – could not be more exciting.
This was a very serious business affair: an official visit, at the invitation of Shamkhani.
Patrushev was in Tehran on the exact same day that Russian Minister of Defense Sergey Shoigu – following a recommendation from General Sergey Surovikin, the overall commander of the Special Military Operation – ordered a Russian retreat from Kherson.
Patrushev knew it for days – so he had no problem to step on a plane to take care of business in Tehran. After all, the Kherson drama is part of the Patrushev negotiations with US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on Ukraine, which have been going on for weeks, with Saudi Arabia as eventual go-between.
Besides Ukraine, the two discussed “information security, as well as measures to counter interference in the internal affairs of both countries by western special services,” according to a report by Russia’s TASS news agency.
Both countries, as we know, are particular targets of western information warfare and sabotage, with Iran currently the focus of one of these no-holds-barred, foreign-backed, destabilization campaign.
Patrushev was officially received by Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, who went straight to the point: “The cooperation of independent countries is the strongest response to the sanctions and destabilization policies of the US and its allies.”
Patrushev, for his part, assured Raisi that for the Russian Federation, strategic relations with Iran are essential for Russian national security.
So that goes way beyond Geranium-2 kamikaze drones – the Russian cousins of the Shahed-136 – wreaking havoc in the Ukrainian battlefield. Which, by the way, elicited a direct mention later on by Shamkhani: “Iran welcomes a peaceful settlement in Ukraine and is in favor of peace based on dialogue between Moscow and Kiev.”
Patrushev and Shamkhani of course discussed security issues and the proverbial “cooperation in the international arena.” But what may be more significant is that the Russian delegation included officials from several key economic agencies.
There were no leaks – but that suggests serious economic connectivity remains at the heart of the strategic partnership between the two top sanctioned nations in Eurasia.
Key in the discussions was the Iranian focus on fast expansion of bilateral trade in national currencies – ruble and rial. That happens to be at the center of the drive by both the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and BRICS towards multipolarity. Iran is now a full SCO member – the only West Asian nation to be part of the Asian strategic behemoth – and will apply to become part of BRICS+.
Have swap, will travel
The Patrushev-Shamkhani get together happened ahead of the signing, next month, of a whopping $40 billion energy deal with Gazprom, as previously announced by Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Mahdi Safari.
The National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) has already clinched an initial $6.5 billion deal. All that revolves around the development of two gas deposits and six oilfields; swaps in natural gas and oil products; LNG projects; and building more gas pipelines.
Last month, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Novak announced a swap of 5 million tons of oil and 10 billion cubic meters of gas, to be finished by the end of 2022. And he confirmed that “the amount of Russian investment in Iran’s oil fields will increase.”
Barter of course is ideal for Moscow and Tehran to jointly bypass interminably problematic sanctions and payment settlement issues – linked to the western financial system. On top of it, Russia and Iran are able to invest in direct trade links via the Caspian Sea.
At the recent Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) summit in Astana, Kazakhstan, Raisi forcefully proposed that a successful “new Asia” must necessarily develop an endogenous model for independent states.
As an SCO member, and playing a very important role, alongside Russia and India, in the International North-South Transportation Corridor (INSTC), Raisi is positioning Iran in a key vector of multilateralism.
Since Tehran entered the SCO, cooperation with both Russia and China, predictably, is on overdrive. Patrushev’s visit is part of that process. Tehran is leaving behind decades of Iranophobia and every possible declination of American “maximum pressure” – from sanctions to attempts at color revolution – to dynamically connect across Eurasia.
BRI, SCO, INSTC
Iran is a key Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) partner for China’s grand infrastructure project to connect Eurasia via road, sea, and train. In parallel, the multimodal Russian-led INSTC is essential to promote trade between the Indian subcontinent and Central Asia – at the same time solidifying Russia’s presence in the South Caucasus and the Caspian Sea region.
Iran and India have committed to offer part of Chabahar port in Iran to Central Asian nations, complete with access to exclusive economic zones.
At the recent SCO summit in Samarkand, both Russia and China made it quite clear – especially for the collective west – that Iran is no longer going to be treated as a pariah state.
So it is no wonder Iran that is entering a new business era with all members of the SCO under the sign of an emerging financial order being designed mostly by Russia, China and India. As far as strategic partnerships go, the ties between Russia and India (President Narendra Modi called it an unbreakable friendship) is as strong as those between Russia and China. And when it comes to Russia, that’s what Iran is aiming at.
The Patrushev-Shamkhani strategic meeting will hurl western hysteria to unseen levels – as it completely smashes Iranophobia and Russophobia in one fell swoop. Iran as a close ally is an unparalleled strategic asset for Russia in the drive towards multipolarity.
Iran and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) are already negotiating a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in parallel to those swaps involving Russian oil. The west’s reliance on the SWIFT banking messaging system hardly makes any difference to Russia and Iran. The Global South is watching it closely, especially in Iran’s neighborhood where oil is commonly traded in US dollars.
It is starting to become clear to anyone in the west with an IQ above room temperature that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, or Iran nuclear deal), in the end, does not matter anymore. Iran’s future is directly connected to the success of three of the BRICS: Russia, China and India. Iran itself may soon become a BRICS+ member.
There’s more: Iran is even becoming a role model for the Persian Gulf: witness the lengthy queue of regional states aspiring toward gaining SCO membership. The Trumpian “Abraham Accords?” What’s that? BRICS/SCO/BRI is the only way to go in West Asia today.
I remember reading some years ago how barter is a system of trade used by undeveloped and poor countries. Of course, that was literature written in the US.
But the reason why the barter system is being demonized, and its practitioners humiliated, is because the tyrants who control Zone A consider it a threat to their profits. When countries barter, they bypass NY and London financial vampire centers, who then don’t get their pound of flesh.
Trading goods for goods is the most natural form of trading. That’s how it started long ago, before money was even a concept.
Barter works, but prevents a huge number of optimisations in trade complexity.
This problem is known as the ‘coincidence of wants’ ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coincidence_of_wants
‘Money’ is concept that solves that problem. Implementing the concept of money has never been perfect… there have been many options tried over the millenia. Even things we now find odd like Rai stones. ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rai_stones
The technology to implement the concept of money, was best handled (until a few hundred years ago) by using Gold as the payment token.
There is no going back to a barter only system … too inefficient and inflexible.
The world has ‘things / services’ …. and payment tokens. That is the entire setup.
The collective west has had a few hundred years where they had a near monopoly on the preferred payment token system used for international trade … but the regularly abuse that monopoly.
This is changing and when you upend/replace/redesign that fundamental tool for facilitating trade it is a massive change to the status quo, with big losers and winners. You can always expect lots of violence during this change.
This change will take decades to settle down …
Defi. Decentralized finance. International barter on a blockchain ledger. You can trade stocks, commodities, precious metals, currencies, NFTs, used cars, musical instruments, anything you can imagine. Rumors abound that Russia will start trading commodities internationally on a blockchain ledger around Q2 2023
Bringing Iran in from the cold will have economic and strategic benefits for Iran. It will no longer be susceptible or bothered by western sanctions, and being a partner with other Asian heavyweights such as China and Iran, as well as smaller countries who are SCO members, will make it more difficult for the US to be able to force those countries to sanction Iran, since those countries will stand to lose directly, if they do so.
Now, the same strategy must be applied to NK and Cuba. It is inhumane and unfair that Cubans and North Koreans should suffer just because the US aims to punish them for their defiance toward US control. These sick policies must end. Does not matter if they were passed at the UN. If UN sanctions cause people to be wanting, then those sanctions are unjust.
Even when banking system is used funds are not transferred on each and every transaction.
All transactions between customers of two banks are totalled and the difference is transferred ( even that is notional) on a periodic basis ( Daily, weekly or by set trigger amounts)
Barter also does the same to a large extent. Countries allot a value to large transactions over a period of time say a value of Oil deliverys over a period of time is allotted. The other country can buy goods worth this amount in a fixed time period at agreed values balance is then settled in currency swaps or go to an account for future trade.
While I admire your articles and your thinking on the SCO/BRICS/New economic models. I think you are jumping ahead especially on Iran and perhaps Russia, these countries will first have to defend their independence militarily against proxies/color revolutions/etc.. The US/West is not just going sit back and allow US/West models to be replaced as we have seen with Russia and Ukraine and stopping the energy relationship between Germany and Russia.
These issue will first have to be solved on the battlefields/streets before any of this treaty business can be taken seriously.
Yes a great article, and your right to point out the west will not set idle by and allow this to take place without a fight. I can see a Middle East war on the near horizon with many people, nationalities, involved ( likened to what is going on in Syria today only broader).
Russia has been defending itself since at least 2007 and many times historically. Iran has been defending itself against the west and the Jewish terrorist state since 1979.
What’s different now is the rapidly growing alliance of Russia, China, and Iran – not to mention the elephant in the room, India.
I think Assad will taje the Golan by xmas and the nuttenyahud will throw his toys out his stroller, threaten to supply the UkiNazi brothers and missiles will fly…
Palestine will be free soon. Joos can stay but ZioNajis not…
The “regional states” are anxious to join the SCO because some of them fear Iran. They feel that if they belong to the SCO as does Iran, it will protect them.
The developments of unchaining BRICS+ from the US/Dollar hegemony are gaining momentum with an unbelievably fast pace. Thanks to the series of articles written by Pepe Escobar one is able to keep track of this process that at the same time promotes the establishment of a multipolar system of trade between sovereign nations as well as unhinges the old unipolar neoliberal system that was installed to make the US (assisted by its vassals in ‘the West’) profit at the detriment of the global South/ BRICS+. When will Saudi Arabia withdraw itself from oil-payments with the petro-dollar? That will be ‘the-writing-on-the-wall’ moment, that signals the end of the US empire.
2 decades of Russian appeasement towards America/West and in particular that rogue state, ISISrael, finally evaporated. Even Slutsky and his Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, aka, Likud Party, won’t dare any chicanery with the undisputed heavyweight POS Netanyahu (who’s more difficult to dispose of than Obama Bin Laden).
I hope Iran reminded Patrushev as to the identity of the common enemy.
Hardball time for Putin to secure his Allies interests in Syria, also a no-fly zone and weapon systems that’ll bring an end to the indiscriminate missile attacks from the aforementioned rogue state.
The Die Is Cast!
Iran well remembers Mosadegh who nationalized British Petroleum, and was deposed for a CIA-backed Shah.
Now for a look at the British Empire’s mendaciousness :
There Russian Economist for the EAEU Dr. Glazyev points to the British Empire new effort, and Primakov’s triple power proposal – India, China and Russia. Iran is right in the middle of this.
Excellent update Pepe.
I will borrow Steve from Aus’s awesome recent comment to describe the inevitability in all of this process…
“The dogs bark, but the multipolarity caravan moves on.”
Also, it would be great if Pepe could give us regular updates on what is happening in Brazil.
I was horrified to find at my Friday afternoon coffee club meeting yesterday that I was the only one in attendance out of 13 that supported Lula. All the rest apparently assume that Bolsanarro is some sort of victimised humanitarian saint who was cheated out of victory mainly because he challenged the mainstream narratives on the clot-shot rollout.
OK hats off to Bolsanaro for getting one thing right but that in itself doesn’t prove to me who he carries water for.
Also, I hadn’t realised until very recently just how much groundwork Lula had done on developing a South American trade zone, a joint currency to be called the “South” and even a collective regional central bank that would be completely divorced from the Nazi-inspired BIS thieves based in Basel.
In short, he was basically using a Colonel Gaddafi blueprint and massively risking life and limb in the process. The fact that Bolsanaro has been desperately trying to sell a majority state-owned Banco Brasil, Petrobras, and the postal and electric public utilities to predatory international corporations who could then victimise the entire Brazilian population, even on an even larger scale than they do now, kind of proves his allegiances to me… actually beyond any shadow of doubt.
How dare Lula attempt to take his country out of the clutches of the thieving western banking cartel? How dare he try to secure public utilities and resources to develop the social and economic wealth of his society? How dare he challenge multipolarity and the AAZ hegemony which assumes it has some sort of god-given right to rape and pillage the entire world?
I just hope Lula’s security is absolutely top notch otherwise this could all end tragically. Brazil is a huge deal even within the context of entire the BRIICS+++ juggernaut but particularly in the global south.
Meanwhile, Steve’s wise words ring in my ears.
Col wrote: “I was horrified to find at my Friday afternoon coffee club meeting yesterday that I was the only one in attendance out of 13 that supported Lula. All the rest apparently assume that Bolsanarro is some sort of victimised humanitarian saint who was cheated out of victory mainly because he challenged the mainstream narratives on the clot-shot rollout.”
Some folks are more attuned, than others, to the political/economic matrix of Brazil.
As Americans, we have known for decades how the US Financial/Military Hegemony went in and ravaged Brazil. You know: Big US corporations: mining, capturing of Brazil’s agriculture, and paying off big time to the Super Wealthy in Brazil.
A good comparison is to look at how African leaders have been bought off by US$$ while forcing their nations into accepting World Bank/IMF Loans. The inevitable result is to become ndebted nations who are unable to produce food crops for their citizens; immense hunger, and poverty result.The US forces them to greatly reduce their labor costs (laborers); while growing crops that are exported to the US who can’t grow those crops; stripping the nations of their sovereign rights; greatly reducing social needs – health care & taking care of their societal issues.
Leading on from this, what are your thoughts on what is likely to unfold in Haiti now that it has been discovered that their oil and gas reserves are the largest in the world, completely dwarfing even those of Venezuela?
I have every bad feeling about this, especially reflecting back on how the Trump regime did their level best to loot and ruin Venezuela from the day he set foot in office, and even to the point of announcing this utterly gormless puppet Guaido’ as president.
If Russia hadn’t been in the fray that country and its’ resources surely would have been butchered up like a side of beef by now.
I just hope I am not putting two and two together and coming up with five in regard to Haiti.
Little tiny Hatiti, a quarter of an island shared by the Dominican Republic has the largest energy reserves on the planet? Pretty sure Haiti could fit into the Halifax Citadel and with a 20 mile maritime limit, if pirates come for that oil, that’s what pirates do, what will Haiti do….voodoo?
Sounds like a major distraction, refocus, don’t look over there. Canada, second largest country on the planet, floats on oil and gas, diamonds and gold, all nicely capped and off the market, new wells drilled daily, assayed, and capped. Stock in the bank. When that tired old trope, the Peak Oil Can, get bandied about, its good for a belly laugh. Not saying we should not conserve or cut back, just find the reasons presented as incredulous.
Personally, maps are deceiving, many people are unable to grasp what vastness is until one tries to drive across it, several days later, one is still driving. I can just imagine what kinda laughing the Russians do when some gives their peak oil can a kick.
Not much to loot in Haiti, Clintons cleaned house, basically just a refuelling transfer station for drugs moving north to the USA, Chavez kinda screwed that up for the CIA, even tagged a few of their mule planes, hence the switch to Haiti, the big shaker threw a spanner in that works. Bill C had to go there personally to assess the damage to the CIA station located in Haiti’s only real hotel. And the suffering continues………
Thank you, Pepe for the article that sheds some light on the fact that Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, was fully aware of Russia’s military pullback in Kherson. So, now we see that Patrushev is negotiating with Jake Sullivan.
In knowing “negotiations” are ongoing, it possibly suggests that the US Financial Hegemon, who is already in trouble with its massive gambling casino, is having to make significant changes. Cue to The FED, who is perpetrating immense Inflation in the US; less so in the UK/EU, while The FED continues to in keeping the Stocks/Bond Markets from sinking into the abyss. Let’s face it, US Capitalism goes from one emergency to the next one. The only difference, this time ’round is that since 2019 the Big Wigs, like Black Rock/Vanguard, Carney, The Fed Chairman/Others were forced into a massive emergency meeting to slow down the constant inter-war with derivatives, credit default swaps, and that whole matrix of Massive Greed. We’re still putting our money on that Monstrous Hegemon, will be the death knell of the US Imperial System. Cross your fingers, folks.
Mr Patrushev goes to Tehran
Jake (the snake) Sullivan returns from Kiev
Compare and Contrast, one goes to build, the other to destroy.
Jake left a few days before the Mid-terms, returning to a Banana Republic incapable of counting votes. Turn those machines back on, we need a result we can believe in.
We all seen the movie (Movies 24). Small town girl makes it big in NY/California but is all cynical and fucked up in the head after being screwed 9 ways to Sunday, returns home to rekindle her romance with childhood sweetheart who’s just been released from prison after serving 12 years of a 15-year sentence for smuggling drugs. A right tearjerker!
It’s always good news to hear Russia and Iran forging closer ties. They must do it because these are two of the world’s most natural allies. It was only because of the successful strategy of divide and rule of the British that kept the two nations apart beginning from the 18th century (modern/industrial period) until recently. Even today, we can see remnants of those old Anglo-Saxon 5-6th columnists NGO’s – active here in Iran – shouting Russia this and Russia that. They’re trying very hard to maintain the old narrative by undermining Iran-Russia relations as if Iran is still the same illiterate – ignorant – disease ridden, bribe-lover, wretched former Persia it was some two hundred years ago or Russia is still run by Nikita Khrushchev.
Hope Russia -Iran relations reach the strategic level and stay there forever because that’s the way it should be, irrespective of what the western global strategists, think-tanks draw on their grand chessboard (by the way for Washington it looks more like a checkerboard). Who cares what the west wants or thinks. We already know what the West wants. They want a world based on Brandons’ lgtbq+, gender bending, trans-sexuality tale. Well they better keep their ideas to themselves within their own energy-dependent segregated territories that they have control over. May be by engaging in such perverted activities, they can at least stay warm during winter times.
Two more very important news items were also announced following Mr. Patrushev’s visit to Iran. The first one: Iran’s new domestically-manufactured hypersonic missile similar to the Russian KH-47 M2 Kinzhal. The other was about the completion of a part of a railway from Chahbahar Port in southern Iran to Sarakhs in the north on the border with Turkmenistan which make direct rail link to the Central Asian-Russian and Chinese system. The day when a new OPEC would be up and running, where all the decisions, pricing in BRICKS currencies (Ruble, Yuan, Real and Rial…) insurance, security, investments etc. are made in Saint Petersburg, Tehran, Beijing, Caracas, Brasilia…. we then can call it the official end of the American/Anglo-Zionist banking mafia and their empire of lies.
Obrigado, Pepe, as always.
Last year my wife and I almost cancelled a trip to Iran, at the last minute we concluded the regional/world situation could block a trip in the future, decided to push the odds and took the invitation. What we could see during our trip was a prelude to what Iran is going through now. We were able to talk extensively to Iranians, no minders around, another western slander that visitors to Iran cannot talk to the Iranian people freely. The only limitation is the language, however, enough Iranians speak good enough English to make the communication fluid and easy.
We talked to women without head cover, dressed in jeans, t-shirt, and cover shirt, who told us if they were seen by the religious police, they would be arrested/fined, or both. The major complaint across the board among young people, however, was the economy. Young graduates from prestigious universities could not find a decent job, reason we met them selling safron, for example, working the tourist circuit, given their English capabilities.
Difficult to make ends meet, have a family, rent an apartment/house on their own, secure a job in which they can use their hard earned educational credentials. Most people we talk to couldn’t see a future for themselves in Iran, migration was the only option, Germany/Europe the place of choice for most of them, as the US is totally out of reach for most Iranians.
There were several factors behind their plight.
One was, of course, the long term effect of the sanctions in the general population. It is real, you can touch it every time you touch a rial, Iranian currency so devaluated you need a cart at the money exchange to carry the pile of bills you get against the dollar/euros. Inflation is so high, they stopped counting long ago. However, western sanctions have also become a pretext for the government to justify the absence of services, or the termination of subsidies.
During our visit, the government stopped subsidizing grains (wheat flower) and gas in some northwestern provinces, which caused people to protest against the measures. The reason? Both grain and gas, bought at low prices in Iran, was being sold in Afghanistan, the former, and in Turkey, the latter, at market prices and higher, after hoarders smuggled them to both countries, depriving the local Iranian population from government subsidized basics.
There were also protests after a building collapsed in another province, due to the corruption and lack of quality control in the building industry. Some famous Iranian filmmakers have been arrested as a consequence of that protest. Which brings us to another factor behind the discontent, widespread government corruption. Sanctions have forced the Iranian economy to survive by developing all kind of subterfuges to break through the iron blockade the criminal Collective West has imposed upon the country.
Survival imposed the creation of an underground economy where what counts is to break the blockade, whatever the means. Therefore, corruption has grown as a parallel economy, which the sanctions legitimize. In the last leg of our trip, we visited Shiraz, city of poets, station for the old Silk Road and for the new BRI, recently in the news thanks to a massacre carried out by ISIS in the famous Shah Cheragh mosque, a monument to Persian architecture.
Visiting a shop of miniature paintings, we decided to buy a painting of Hafez, one of the most famous Persian poets, born and buried in Shiraz. Going through the transaction, we asked the shop owner if we could pay with a credit card, he said no problem. We paid with our MasterCard CC, the transaction took place in the UAE, not in Iran, case closed. That’s how most of the Iranian economy works, in the shadows of other economies which benefit from the sanctions by providing an outlet (and getting a cut) to the struggling Iranians.
The Russia-Iran strategic alliance is a historical inevitability, and it’s been in the works for a long time. Khomeini’s anti-communist stance caused the Soviet Union to support Iraq’s Hussein during the proxy war he launched against Iran for his US masters. Regardless that initial support, the Soviet Union provided military help to Iran via North Korea, after the west blockaded Iran from weapons acquisition. The Putin era marked a new opening in that relation, and all is well that ends well.
For Iran, the sky is the limit, besides the strategic nuclear umbrella he gets from Russia/China/India, there is a vast economic potential in the multiple organizations Iran is joining, just in time to prop up its faltering economic conditions. Some of the factors for the ongoing protests are legit, such as the state of the economy, and the need for political reform, which definitely overlap given the corruption originates at political power centers. An aging political elite, unable to catch the winds blowing in the direction of a future they are unable to visualize, is holding back Iran from unfolding necessary reforms that will improve the lives of all Iranians, and more importantly, maintain their loyalty to the Islamic regime.
PS: Another side effect of the ongoing crisis, is that the young generations are leaving Islam, a serious issue some of the Ayatollah are very concerned about. For Iran, that’s an existential crisis. There are many other issues that will make my comment a treatise, not the purpose of this limited venue.