Against the backdrop of a global oil crisis precipitated by the war Russian invasion of Ukraine, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has raced to the Middle East to meet the Gulf state autocrats MBS and MBZ.
Unfortunately, the visit comes just the day after Saudi Arabia’s latest savage mass-beheading of 81 (the most ever executions in a day) alleged ‘supporters of terrorist organisations’ (i.e. sympathisers of the regime’s deadly rival in the region Iran).
In another significant piece of timing has come the surprise announcement of the release of the Iranian born Britain, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who boarded her plane back to Britain from Tehran this morning, just as the prime minister was hastily dashing in the opposite direction towards Riyadh.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is expected to greet Nazanin buoyed by national relief that an episode that bore all the hallmarks a six years long hostage-taking by Iran is now over. Iran had accused the young mother (seized whilst visiting her family in Tehran) of being a spy and then later tagged as a condition for her release the unfreezing of a £400 million debt owed by Britain to Iran suspended during sanctions.
Today, Liz Truss made the revealing announcement that there was no longer any barrier to the money being paid, telling Sky TV news: “We have been clear this is a legitimate debt that we do owe Iran and we have been seeking ways to pay it.”
The reality, reliable sources have informed Sarawak Report that the money was already paid at the start of the week, leading to the end of a geopolitical log-jam triggered by the Ukraine crisis.
Indeed, all these unfolding events are clearly related as part and parcel of an international response to the war, which looks poised to re-set global relations in ways that might have seemed inconceivable just days ago.
Steps had already been underway to reverse the so-called Abraham Accords agenda designed to confirm Iran as the pariah of the Middle East by placing the entire support of the west behind the Gulf States’ domination of the region and indeed the market for oil.
Prompted by his friendly axis between the Gulf and Israel Donald Trump had caused the United States to exit the Iran nuclear deal brokered by his predecessor, together with Russia and allies including France and Britain, which aimed to return to diplomatic and trading relations with Iran in return for the closing down its nuclear weapons programme.
President Biden has made clear that he would bring the US back into the process if Iran returned to the pledges of the deal. The so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) talks had been completed with a treaty ready to sign when the invasion by Russia took place.
Following the sanctions then placed on Russia the Putin government refused to sign unless the agreement exempted Iran from all such sanctions, leading to a stalemate in the process as oil prices started to rocket in response to the block on Russia.
Reliable information received by Sarawak Report confirms that the agreement to pay the £400 million debt has formed part of an interlocking series of agreements rapidly put together to break the impasse and that all parties, including Russia, are now ready to sign the JCPOA agreement after the region’s New Year – i.e. before the end of this month.
That final agreement was brokered by the visit to Moscow by Iran’s foreign minister yesterday.
It is in this context that UK prime minister Boris Johnson has raced to reassure Gulf potentates who are reported to be furious at the deal with talk of an American betrayal of the Middle East axis forged by Trump.
In particular, there is disappointment that the potential for sky-rocketing oil prices and massive profits has substantially evaporated with the disappearance of MBS and MBZ’s stranglehold over supply – there had been little positive response of their part to the pleas from their Western allies to help out over the past several days.
It is to be seen if Boris’s ‘foreign touch’ will work the necessary diplomacy in the Middle East. Insiders have indicated that his role will be to present a package of promises of security guarantees for the iron-fisted royal kingdoms, who regard Iran as an extremist revolutionary state threatening instability on their doorstep.
Whether the deal might herald an accommodation that frees Ukraine from its invading forces one can only hope.