BRICS 11: Strategic tour de force

Chinese President Xi Jinping has described all the major decisions taken at the 15th BRICS summit in South Africa as « historic ». This may be considered an understatement. 

It will take time for the Global South, or the Global Majority, or the « Global Globe » (copyright President Lukashenko), not to mention the stunned collective West, to fully grasp the enormity of the new strategic stakes. 

President Putin, for his part, described the negotiations on BRICS expansion as very difficult. We’re beginning to get a fairly clear idea of what really happened on the table in Johannesburg. 

India wanted three new members. China wanted up to 10. A compromise was finally reached, with 6 members: Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Argentina and Ethiopia. 

So now we’re talking about BRICS 11. And this is just the beginning. From Russia’s rotating BRICS presidency on January 1, 2024, other partners will gradually be included, and most certainly a new set of full members will be announced at the BRICS 11 summit in Kazan in October next year.

So we could soon reach BRICS 20 — on the way to BRICS 40. The G7, for all intents and purposes, is slipping into oblivion. 

On the creation of a New World Order by the BRICS: 

BRICS diplomats sometimes look at the challenges ahead and say, « Can we do it? It’s so complicated, so complex.… if you get them to interact more and more closely, then they can meet the challenges, but in an atmosphere of cooperation, mutual respect and respect for each other’s sovereignty, which is the absolute opposite of the rules-based international order, » geopolitical analyst and writer Pepe Escobar told Sputnik..

But first things first. At the fateful table in Johannesburg, Russia supported Egypt. China has staked everything on the magic of the Persian Gulf: Iran, the United Arab Emirates and the Saudis. It goes without saying: Iran and China are already engaged in a strategic partnership, and Riyadh is already willing to pay for energy in yuan. 

Brazil and China have backed Argentina, Brazil’s troubled neighbor, which runs the risk of seeing its economy entirely dollarized, and which is also a key supplier of raw materials to Beijing. South Africa supported Ethiopia. India, for a series of very complex reasons, was not really comfortable with three Arab/Muslim members (Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt). Russia has allayed New Delhi’s fears. 

All of the above respects geographical principles and marks the idea that the BRICS represent the global South. But it goes much further than that, mixing shrewd strategy with cold-hearted realpolitik. 

India was reassured because Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, present at the Johannesburg negotiating table on behalf of President Putin, and highly respected by New Delhi, understood perfectly well that a new single BRICS currency is still a long way off. What really counts, in the short and medium term, is the expansion of intra-BRICS trade in their national currencies. 

This was emphasized by the President of the New Development Bank (NDB), Dilma Rousseff, in her report to the hosts of the South African summit, while Brazilian President Lula once again stressed the importance of setting up a working group to discuss a BRICS currency. 

Lavrov understood that New Delhi was absolutely terrified of secondary sanctions from the USA, should its role within the BRICS become too ambitious. Prime Minister Modi is essentially making the link between the BRICS and the totally artificial imperial obsession contained in the « Indo Pacific » terminology, which masks a new containment of China. The neo-con Straussian psychopaths in charge of American foreign policy are already furious that India is buying tons of Russian oil at reduced prices.

New Delhi’s support for a new BRICS currency would be interpreted in Washington as an all-out trade war — and the insanity of sanctions would follow. Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, on the other hand, doesn’t care: he’s a major energy producer, not a consumer like India, and one of his priorities is to fully court his main energy customer, Beijing, and pave the way for the petroyuan. 

A single strategic move is all it takes 

Let’s move on to strategic issues. For all intents and purposes, in Eurasian terms, the BRICS 11 are now poised to reign over the Arctic Sea Route, the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), the BIS East-West Corridors, the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea and the Suez Canal. 

This makes it possible to combine several land corridors with several nodes of the maritime Silk Roads. Integration is almost complete in Heartland and Rimland. All in a single strategic move on the geopolitical/geo-economic chessboard. 

Much more than the increase in the BRICS 11’s collective GDP to 36% of the world total (already greater than that of the G7), with the group now encompassing 47% of the world’s population, the key geopolitical and geoeconomic breakthrough is the way the BRICS 11 are about to literally break the bank on the energy and commodities market fronts. 

By integrating Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the BRICS 11 instantly establish themselves as an oil and gas powerhouse. According to InfoTEK, the BRICS 11 currently control 39% of global oil exports, 45.9% of proven reserves and at least 47.6% of all oil produced worldwide. 

With the BRICS 11, which could include Venezuela, Algeria and Kazakhstan as new members as early as 2024, they could control up to 90% of all oil and gas traded worldwide. 

The inevitable corollary: transactions settled in local currencies, bypassing the US dollar. The inevitable conclusion: the petrodollar in a coma. The Empire of chaos and plunder will lose its free lunch: control of world oil prices and the means to enforce « diplomacy » through a tsunami of unilateral sanctions. 

Already on the horizon, the direct BRICS 11-OPEC+ symbiosis is inevitable. OPEC+ is effectively led by Russia and Saudi Arabia. 

An earth-shattering geo-economic reorientation is at hand, involving everything from the routes taken by global supply chains and the new BRICS routes to the progressive interconnection of the BRI, Saudi Vision 2030 and massive port expansion in the United Arab Emirates.

By choosing Ethiopia, the BRICS are extending their African reach into mining, minerals and metals. Ethiopia is rich in gold, platinum, tantalum, copper and niobium, and offers vast potential for oil and gas exploration. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are also involved in mining. 

All this points to the rapid and progressive integration of North Africa and Western Asia. 

Diplomacy, a major asset 

The BRICS’ new energy shock is a historic counterpoint to the 1973 oil shock, after which Riyadh began wallowing in petrodollars. Today, Saudi Arabia, led by MbS, is undergoing a tectonic shift and is strategically aligning itself with Russia, China, India and Iran. 

A diplomatic coup is not even the beginning of a description. This is the second stage in the rapprochement between Riyadh and Teheran, initiated by Russia and finalized by China, which was recently sealed in Beijing. Russia-China strategic leadership, working patiently in sync, has never lost sight of the ball. 

Now compare this with the West’s collective « strategies », such as the G7-imposed oil price cap. In fact, the G7 « coalition of the willing » itself imposed a price cap on Russian crude imported by sea. The result was that they had to start buying a lot more oil products from countries in the global South, who ignored the price cap and duly increased their purchases of Russian crude. 

Guess who the first two are: BRICS members China and India. 

After wallowing in several phases of denial, the collective West may — or may not — realize that it’s a fool’s dream to try to « decouple » the Western-dominated part of the world economy from China, no matter what Washington says. 

The BRICS 11 now graphically demonstrate how the « Global South/Global Majority/Global Globe » is more unaligned with the West than at any time in recent history. 

Incidentally, the president of the G77, Cuban leader Diaz-Canel, was present at the BRICS summit as a representative of the new de facto non-aligned movement: the G77 actually comprises no fewer than 134 countries. Most of them are African. In Johannesburg, Xi Jinping met the leaders of most of them in person. 

The panic-stricken West considers them all « dangerous ». The last refuge is therefore, as you’d expect, rhetorical: « decoupling », « de-risking » and other such nonsense.

But it can also be dangerous from a practical point of view. Like the first-ever trilateral summit at Camp David on August 18 between the Empire and two Asian vassals, Japan and South Korea. This can be interpreted as the first step towards an Asian military-political NATO even more toxic than the Quad or the AUKUS, obsessed with simultaneously containing China, Russia and the DPRK. 

The collective overcoming of the global North 

The UN lists 152 countries worldwide as « developing countries ». The BRICS 11 group is aimed at them, as they outstrip the countries of the North in every respect, from population growth to their overall contribution to global GDP growth measured in PPP terms. 

In the ten years since the BIS announcement in Astana and Jakarta, Chinese financial institutions have lent nearly $1,000 billion for infrastructure connectivity projects across the global South. The forthcoming BIS forum in Beijing will provide further impetus. This is the BRI-BRICS symbiosis. 

At last year’s G20, China was the first country to push for the inclusion of the 55-member African Union (AU). This could happen at next month’s G20 summit in New Delhi, in which case the representation of the global South will be close to parity with that of the North. 

Claims that Beijing is organizing a nefarious conspiracy to use the BRICS as a weapon against the G7 are childish. Realpolitik — and geo-economic indicators — dictate the terms, shaping the shock of the new: the irreversible insignificance of the G7 with the rise of the BRICS 11.

Pepe Escobar

Source : Sputnik Globe

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