The Alt-Media Community is mostly an echo chamber of well-intended but very naïve wishful thinkers who sincerely believe that those three countries are forming an anti-Western ‘alliance’…In their mind, any military drills – especially trilateral ones – no matter how small and tactical are seen as proof of this.
China, Iran, and Russia just carried out trilateral naval drills in the northern part of the Indian Ocean. These exercises involved several ships from all sides and focused mostly on tactical maneuvers. They were obviously planned far in advance since it took time for the Chinese and Russian ships to reach the training area. Nevertheless, their importance has been exaggerated by some in the Alt-Media Community (AMC) as representing some sort of muscle-flexing signal to the West due to them occurring in the context of the undeclared US-provoked missile crisis in Europe.
According to the popular narrative that’s being pushed, these three are increasingly uniting and even coordinating their military activities in order to resist the US-led Western maximum pressure campaign against them. This sounds plausible on the surface since news about these three particular countries staging trilateral naval drills is bound to be interpreted that way by some, but it’s actually an inaccurate assessment for the reasons that will now be explained. First, as was earlier mentioned, these drills were planned far in advance. They aren’t an immediate response to recent US-Russian tensions.
Second, they just involved several ships from each side and focused on tactical maneuvers. These weren’t so-called “war games” like the West regularly stages. It was mostly a symbolic confidence-building exercise between three strategic partners. If they meant to send a muscle-flexing signal to the West, then they would have dispatched far more ships and focused on more than just tactical maneuvers. Quite clearly, while the Iranian side might benefit from presenting these drills as some kind of anti-Western signal, that doesn’t at all seem to have been China’s or Russia’s intent.
Third, China and Russia aren’t Iran’s “allies” no matter how much many in the AMC might wish this to be. In fact, they practice very balanced policies in the West Asian region with both Great Powers having recently expanded their ties with Iran’s GCC rivals and even “Israel” in comprehensive and increasingly strategic ways. Neither would want their other regional partners to interpret their tactical drills with Iran in a hostile manner that’s supposedly aimed against them. Those optics actually contradict their grand strategies and arguably undermine what they’re trying to achieve in the region.
Having explained all of that, it’s worthwhile wondering why this inaccurate assessment spread like wildfire across the AMC. The most obvious reason is that the AMC is mostly an echo chamber of well-intended but very naïve wishful thinkers who sincerely believe that those three countries are forming an anti-Western “alliance”. Many seem to base this view on China’s and Russia’s economic and political support for Iran in the face of the US-led West’s maximum pressure campaign against it. In their mind, any military drills – especially trilateral ones – no matter how small and tactical are seen as proof of this.
While it’s true that China and Russia are also victims of the US-led West’s maximum pressure campaign too, these Great Powers aren’t “allies” in the traditional sense of willing to send their soldiers to die for the other or in coordinating pushback campaigns against the West in their respective parts of Eurasia, let alone in full coordination with Iran in West Asia. The nature of the US-led West’s maximum pressure campaigns against all three of them varies and their leaderships are wise enough not to base their respective national security strategies on one or the other partner fully coordinating with them.
After all, it would be the height of irresponsibility for Presidents Xi, Raisi, or Putin to prematurely take defensive military action in their regions of Eurasia if they weren’t confident that they could succeed without having to depend on the others following suit in a symmetrical way. Each of their countries is strong enough to not have to depend on their counterparts. Furthermore, while they all trust one another, it’s unrealistic to expect them to have such trust that they’d make such major game-changing moves if they weren’t comfortable enough succeeding on their own without others supporting them.
It’s for these reasons why the overly optimistic reports about the importance of the latest Chinese-Iranian-Russian naval drills can be described as nothing more than wishful thinking. Those assessments don’t reflect the actual relationship between them nor the intentions of China and Russia. They simply make well-intended observers feel better about themselves to imagine that these three are “uniting to take down the West” when nothing of the sort is happening. Chinese and Russian economic and political support of Iran shouldn’t be misinterpreted as signaling a World War I-style unconditional alliance.