Sochi Summit Attests to Rise of Iran Influence, German Foreign Minister Says

The emerging new world order is seeing the growing influence of Russia, Turkey, and Iran evidenced by last month’s Sochi Summit attended by their presidents for achieving a political settlement of the Syria conflict, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said Tuesday as quoted by Mehr News.

Speaking at the Berlin Foreign Policy Forum on future scenarios in international politics, Gabriel was critical of U.S. President Donald Trump’s foreign policy, saying that as the Americans ceded their leadership role, the power vacuum in the Middle East and Africa was being increasingly filled by other powers.

“We see that the competitors are not sleeping,” he said, arguing that China had significantly increased its influence in Africa, while Russia, Turkey and Iran had carved out a stronger role in shaping developments in the Middle East.

Gabriel described last month’s Syria summit between the presidents of Russia, Turkey, and Iran in Sochi as emblematic of how “the old empires are rising” again.

“The great powers who met in Sochi are no friends. But they have things in common. Each of them promotes its historical greatness both at home and abroad. And what is different from us, they are using their own capital, to actually show it to the West. They are in a way ready to pay a kind of a tax for the status of being a great power … Economic losses, diplomatic tensions, financial penalties, sanctions, many such things are accepted by them to uphold their claim to regional leadership and to demonstrate their national sovereignty,” he argued.

Gabriel described Russia’s policy towards Ukraine as an example of this new pattern in international politics. He said other regional powers were also taking an increasingly assertive foreign policy.

“Turkey is also not shying away from military deployments which might lead to a confrontation with the U.S., and it defends its interests against Kurdish endeavors for independence,” he said, referring to the terrorist group PYD/PKK’s activities in northern Syria.

The top German diplomat acknowledged Iran’s greater influence in Syria and the Middle East, but also accused Tehran of providing support to terrorist groups in neighboring countries.

Gabriel also renewed his call for European countries to strengthen the European Union as a strong political actor actively participating in the formation of a new multipolar world order and taking more responsibility in global affairs.