‘Today Asia feels it can regain its civilizational weight lost for 500 years’: Lebanese academic


During a political talk on Al-Manar TV, Lebanese academic Dr. Hossam Matar said that the world was today at a historical turning point, in which Asian powers such as China, Russia, and Iran, feel that they can regain their “civilizational weight and influence” that had been absent for the last 500 years due to Western hegemony.

Source: “Kalam Siyasi” (YouTube Channel), interview from Al-Manar TV

Date:  July 21, 2022

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Let’s start with the political summit that took place in Iran, a summit that brought together Iran, Russia and Turkey. This summit carries messages in both its form and content.

Let’s read into the form first. The summit took place under the direct patronage of Imam Khamenei, the leader of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, and he made a direct speech in front of everyone he met there.

Dr. Hossam Matar, Lebanese academic and political analyst:

First, I think that this visit (summit) falls within a course that has been developing for years. All Asian powers in general feel that the world is going through a very important period of development, and the international system is going through a moment of transformation. This transformation is occurring in favor of the Asian powers in general, i.e., China first and foremost, and the main Asian states such as Russia, India, Iran and Turkey. These forces feel that they are witnessing a historical turning point in which they are regaining their civilizational weight and influence on the world which had been lost during the past 500 years.

These (Asian) states are still witnessing disparities, rivalries, and disagreements among them, the frameworks of cooperation between them are still developing and have not yet been crystalized, and part of these main (Asian) forces still have partnerships with the West and we know that. However, all of these states share a feeling that this world is becoming more pluralistic and balanced, and that they are facing a very great historical moment that they can seize to take away from the West a part of its domination and hegemony over them, whose (consequences) were at expense of them and their people.

Therefore, these forces are creating this form of partnership to try to seize this historical moment. This economic, demographic and political transition from West to East is considered by these states a historical opportunity that must be grasped. All of that was evident in the recent war with Ukraine. (For example,) India, despite its close relations with the United States, did not go into conflict with Russia as requested (by the US). Turkey kept its options open, even on the Ukrainian issue. Why? Because these states, as I told you, see that the Asian powers, that Asia, is back at the heart of the international system.

The marginalization of Asia was at the expense of the powers (in this continent) and its people. Therefore, this course is not new, and (its players) have taken advantage of the crisis of the West, the decline of American hegemony, and the rise of Asian powers; and this is still ongoing. As for speed of this path, its transformations may occur faster or may slow down depending on certain events. For example, we are waiting for the results of the war in Ukraine. We are waiting for the prospect of the US-Chinese confrontation, which I believe is the most important event from now until the year 2050. The next 20 or 30 years will determine the fate of the world through a confrontation that will escalate quickly between America and China. This competition and conflict and its consequences will shape the world for decades and centuries to come.

The United States announced in June or at the end of May, in a speech made by Blinken (, the US Secretary of State,), the American approach to confronting China. (Blinken) said four times in his speech “this decisive decade”, which is from 2020 to 2030. All American literature today uses the term: “the decisive decade”. (The US) says that it has the next 10 years (until the end of 2030) to resolve the conflict with China. If it can reverse the trajectories in this time period… In other words, if (the US) can transform the rise of China into a decline, and the decline of the United States into a rise, it has a chance of reclaiming or maintaining its leadership (over the world). However, if it does not succeed to accomplish its goal before 2030, and China continues to rise at the current level and pattern, and America is not able to regain the initiative, (the US) will reach the point of no return and China will become the strongest in the international system. Consequently, all American thinking (today) looks at the world, including the Middle East, with its conflicts and forces, from a Chinese perspective, at the first, second, third and fourth stage, before it gets into any other issues.


Well, if the United States is looking from a Chinese perspective, how do you see (their opinion) on this tripartite summit?

Dr. Matar:

The United States sees (this summit) very negatively. This was mentioned) in one of the assessments issued over the past two days. If (the US) sees that the main threat is the Chinese threat – but there is a division on this issue. There are those who believe that the main enemy is China, so before targeting China or in the context of targeting China, we must fight a single battle that includes Russia and Iran. Therefore, they see one alliance that should not be separated (into parts), so they want to fight one battle against these three states. This opinion exists, but it is unpopular. It also believes that the confrontation with Russia in Ukraine is also a confrontation with China, and that (Americans) must consider that confrontation with Russia as a detour to attack China. This opinion exists, but again, it is not strong.

The other (more popular) opinion says that if we (Americans) target these (Asian) forces all at once, they will team up against us. Just yesterday, someone (in the US) said that “the evidence is before you”, talking about the summit in Tehran. He added, we (the United States) have put pressure on the Russians and we are fighting them in a military battle to the bitter end in Ukraine; we were not able to build ties nor repair relations with Turkey and Erdogan; and we still insist on following the same approach with Iran and have not offered any alternative options. We are pushing these forces to unite against us. As a result, instead of directing our resources only against China, China is benefiting and we are scattered in all these arenas. Thus, from the Chinese perspective, which is the main concern (for the US), the Tehran summit is very bad for the US approach, which is based on isolating China as much as possible from the Asian powers to drive it into a corner. The Asian powers, including Iran and Russia, can see that. They see this historical opportunity. Therefore, they are exchanging benefits within some limits and consensus, and they are resolving their disagreements. These disagreements exist – we do not want to look at the issue with a romantic view. However, they are being resolved to be settled over time.

(To conclude,) the scene in Tehran, from the point of view of the United States, is very negative, especially in terms of the major confrontation with China because the idea of ‘Asia’ in relation to ‘the West’ is growing stronger and stronger.


We no longer have unipolarity (in world politics)?…

Dr. Matar:

Today, we are witnessing an “ideological struggle”. The United States is also trying to present (the current situation) under this title with the aim of mobilizing (the world) against China, so they speak of Asia as the “authoritarian, repressive, backward, barbaric” (power) against the “civilized West, protector of international stability and the like.”

Today, every scene where Asian powers meet is a scene that challenges the core of the American approach (to confront China), especially since the United States is running short of time, as we said. Time, in the American mind, is not in America’s favor, for every day the United States wastes not confronting China is equivalent to years (lost) in America’s books.

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