Malaysia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Kamarudin Jaffar will conclude a Middle East trip that included official visits to Iran, Turkey and Qatar.
The visit was meant to underscore collaboration between the countries in foreign policy initiatives as well as the post-pandemic recovery effort. As the past thirty years of relatively unchallenged US hegemony begin to transform into a period of parity with other powers like Russia and China, Kuala Lumpur’s diplomatic efforts underscore strategic repositioning in Asia. Malaysia has aligned itself with China through joint pandemic-recovery programs as well as increased bilateral trade ties as part of the Belt and Road Initiative.
Conservative Sunni governments such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia have also been the target of Malaysian diplomatic efforts. However, reports allege that Kuala Lumpur had also helped Iran illegally ship oil to Beijing. Expect Malaysia to work to form a long-term alliance with the wider Islamic world through Turkey and Qatar as well as Pakistan as the countries have mutual interest in regionally balancing against India. Furthermore, Israeli regional insecurity is likely to flare up as Malaysia’s pursuit of partnerships with Islamic governments in the short-term could undermine the recent trend of diplomatic normalisation between Arab states and Israel.
Ali is a Copy-Editor and Analyst on Daily Brief team, contributing regularly to the Daily Brief. He also leads the Foreign Brief Week in Review multimedia team. He focuses on political and development issues in the Middle East and North Africa.