There are a number of worrying developments occurring near our borders which Pakistan should be concerned about. The United States on Monday imposed fresh Iran-related sanctions targeting the Islamic Republic’s oil sector, including the Iranian Ministry of Petroleum, in Washington’s latest move to increase pressure on Tehran. Things appear to get worse with the US on the other side of the border too, with US president Donald Trump launching a new attack on China, by announcing an initiative to thwart Beijing’s alleged efforts to “steal” US technology. It seems China itself is now fed up with the US’ constant shots, and has announced that it will sanction several major defence companies in retaliation for multibillion-dollar US arms sales to Taiwan.

The two global powers are hitting each other where it hurts—on the profits of defence companies. It is feared that the US is initiating this hostility for temporary gains in politics rather than considering the long-term implications of creating chaos in the region. Trump may be exploiting anti-Iran sentiment for some last-minute election gains but this strategy will inevitably backfire. Iran is also geared to have elections next year—US hostility might push Iranian politics to the extreme right, making it harder in the future to hold negotiations.

Such developments can change the strategic disposition of the entire region. Enemies of your enemy can be your friend and attempts to antagonise China and Iran can push the two countries into a closer friendship. China might see Iran as a closer partner now; which could potentially nullify the effect of US restrictions against Iran.