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Regional policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Material posted: Publication date: 22-04-2013

It is known that in modern foreign policy strategy of Iran's conceptual installation at its transformation into the leading nation of Middle East is seen as a problem of the implementation of the historical mission of Iran. It is a priority and over time under the influence of both internal and external factors there is a noticeable evolution of the means and methods of its realisation.

Iranian neoconservatives that came to power in Iran in 2005, was synthesized in its foreign policy, several paradigms of the preceding period: the achievement of the status of a regional power (the doctrine of last Shah M. R. Pahlavi), high pragmatism in the economy (the concept of the President A. A. Hashemi-Rafsanjani), consistent integration in the world economy (the idea of the President S. M. Khatami).

Currently the main directions of regional policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran are:

  1. Middle East (Gulf countries, Iraq, Syria, the Palestinian-Israeli settlement);
  2. Middle East (Afghanistan);
  3. The CIS (Central Asia and Caucasus);
  4. The Problem Of The Caspian Sea.


Iran's policy in the region of the Middle East

In the current complicated situation in the region of the Middle East, Iran plays a dominant role in this important region of the world. Iran occupies the most important military-strategic position, being both middle Eastern, and Caucasian, and Central Asian, and Caspian country, washed by the Persian and the Oman gulfs of the Indian ocean. All painful points of region, one way or another, are associated with Iran. Moreover, a purely internal problems of the region, whether ethnic or religious, military or economic, the problems of refugees and drug trafficking, terrorism and separatism can be effectively solved only with the assistance of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Iran as a source of hydrocarbon natural resources, as well as the transportation of oil and gas raw materials has a certain geopolitical importance. So, the explored crude oil reserves of Iran are 90 billion barrels, making it one of the largest oil producing countries in the world. For all oil fields characterized by high performance and low cost of production. Iran has the second largest oil production among the OPEC countries and ranks second in the world (after Russia) on gas stocks. Now proven and ready to develop the gas reserves are 21 trillion cubic meters, which exceeds 14 % of the world reserves.

Almost semidesyatiletiyu Iran, which has one of the biggest armies in the world (about 800 thousand people) and objectively influencing the Shia society in Afghanistan, Iraq, Bahrain and in other States, is a decisive factor of regional policy in the region of the Middle East.

The most important feature of the historical development of the Islamic Republic of Iran has become in the last decade, the gradual transformation of its revolutionary components from the extreme radicalism to pragmatic moderate Islamism.

Now leadership, the political and military elite of Iran (regardless of political orientation – liberals – conservatives – neo-conservatives) increasingly demonstrates the ability to understand trends and dynamics of the modern development of their society and the world socio-economic processes and coordinate within and foreign policy vectors. Last but not least a big change of views of the Iranian ideologues and politicians on the ways and methods of implementation of "exporting the Islamic revolution".

But this does not mean that Iran rejected the idea of regional hegemony, which began to be implemented forty years ago radical Shiites ousted Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. On the contrary, the idea of a worldwide Islamic revolution was transformed into a more realistic idea of the domination of the Persians and Shi'ite Muslims at the regional level, i.e. primarily on the middle East. Moreover, the religious component of this idea is intertwined with a pragmatic nationalist. Gradually pragmatism in public policy Tehran began to prevail over ideological considerations, especially in the field of unconditional support for fellow Shiites. This is manifested not only in the non-power export the ideas of Islamic revolution and straightforward propaganda of Islamic fundamentalism, but in the adjustment of foreign policy of Iran. (for example, a specific Pro-Armenian position of Iran in the Azerbaijani-Armenian conflict).

To achieve their regional goals of Iran continues to make use of the Shia factor for the formation of its policy in the middle East. Tehran supports the Shiite Afghan Hazaras, supports the Lebanese grouping "Hezbollah" and Palestinian "Hamas". Iran traditionally oriented representatives of the Shiite clergy in Iraq, effectively than is Tehran.

Iran was the first country in the region that have officially recognized the Interim Iraqi governing Council after the overthrow of the Saddam Hussein regime, and then the government of that country.

Tehran did much to intensify the Iranian-Iraqi inter-state relations. The official high-level reciprocal visits have been paid. There was a strengthening of economic ties between the two countries. This dramatically increased trade between the two countries, including regional. At some parts of the Iran-Iraq border trade has increased two times.

However, these official actions is not limited to Iran's influence on Iraq. Special support for Iranian radicals receives Iraqi Shiite radical groups – supporters of the Iranian revolutionary way according to the precepts of Ayatollah Khomeini. Tehran is not like that hostile America keeps troops at the Iranian border. According to many analysts, armed protests of the group of radical Shiite leader type of Moqtada al-Sadr, which is an attempt to assert themselves as a real contender for a prominent (if not the first) place in the leadership of Iraq, fully meet the interests of Iran in this country. And through the activities of Shiite factions, Tehran clearly gives to understand Washington who affect the socio-political situation in Iraq.

In Iraq, Iran involved a variety of "Shiite levers". Simultaneously, Tehran, as an experienced political player who held a multi-way complex game in Iraq – the United States. The events which took place in mid-2004 political and military situation in Iraq and especially the Shia uprising under the leadership of Moqtada al-Sadr, minimizing opportunities to establish normal business relations between the American administration in Iraq and the Iraqi Shiites.

Regardless of what forces in Iran seek to exploit the political situation in Iraq, Iran's influence in Iraq significantly, and it will grow. The Americans ' military and political actions have created the conditions under which Iran became the main figure in a multi-way chess game in the region.

Afghan foreign policy of Iran. Despite the American influence in the country, Iran has retained its influence and continues to influence various political processes in Afghanistan that, in General, confirms that Tehran is not going to completely abandon attempts to defend and implement their interests further in the region of the Middle East. Certain circles in the Iranian political establishment continue to view Afghanistan not just as an important political partner in the region, but also as part of some "Grand Iran". To date, Iran has enough leverage on various parties, movements and ethnic groups, mostly Tajik and azaranka part of Afghanistan. An important place in this interaction is mainly ideological, to a small degree with real political or other content, the concept of "Aryan unity", implying integration of the Iranian-speaking countries of the region and the prospective establishment of a certain etourandtravel axis Tehran – Kabul – Dushanbe.

Iran is one of the first countries to recognize the interim transitional government of Afghanistan headed by Hamid Karzai. Much work has been undertaken in the preparation of the conference in Germany on Afghanistan's future. In Tokyo at the conference on financial assistance to Afghanistan Iran also was among the main sponsors of the economic revival of Afghanistan. The chair of the interim Afghan government, Hamid Karzai, grateful for the support of the country, one of his first foreign visits made to Tehran.

Between the two countries ' contacts in the banking, trade and economic, agricultural, social and other spheres. So, Tehran has proposed a program of cooperation with Kabul, including: financial and economic assistance in the amount of $ 500 million. USA, payment of salaries to teachers in Kabul for six months, the project construction of the highway Mashhad – Herat. In the framework of the Iran-Afghan cooperation of commercial structures and a large company of Iran took part in a joint Iranian-Afghan projects to rebuild the war-ravaged economy. Thus, the private sector of the Iranian economy has granted Afghanistan a loan of almost $ 1 billion. for the reconstruction of the country.

The Palestinian-Israeli settlement. Iran is one of the few countries which does not recognize the possibility of the existence of the state of Israel. This constant holds all the Palestinian direction of the middle East policy of Tehran. Therefore, Iran is not endorsed international project solution to the Israeli-Palestinian crisis called "Road map" developed by Russia, the U.S., European Union and the United Nations. Tehran believes that the possibility of unblocking the middle East peace process may lead to changes in the balance of power in the region in favor of Iran. Iran is extremely interested in the fact that, on the one hand, not to isolate itself from participation in important political processes in the middle East (including the Palestinian issue), with another – constantly to strengthen its presence in the region. Tehran has repeatedly expressed firm commitment to support the Islamic resistance in South Lebanon and in Palestine, that, in fact, is a kind of method of implementation of Iranian influence in the region. The Iranian-backed armed groups, according depending on the political orientation of a terrorist, or national liberation.

The main tool of Iran on the Palestinian-Israeli track of the middle East policy are the armed units of the Lebanese "Hezbollah". According to various estimates, they account for 3-5 thousand people (in addition to the ranks of these movements is the Iranian IRGC soldiers. Relations "Hezbollah" and Tehran are based on common Shi'ite doctrine and non-recognition of the state of Israel. Iranian assistance to the Lebanese allies is comprehensive: financing, diplomatic and political support, ideological and military training of personnel, supply of arms, military equipment, munitions and equipment, humanitarian supplies.

It is unlikely in the coming years, Iran's stance on the Palestinian-Israeli issue will change. Iran will do their best to prevent any agreement on how to resolve the conflict, if even in a small degree takes into account the interests of Israel. Only the surrender of tel Aviv will satisfy Tehran.

The Arab countries of the Persian Gulf. Iran aspires to join the regional security system and the cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf – GCC (then, of course, the name of the organization has to change). Arab Gulf monarchies are wary of such a powerful neighbour and trying to politically isolate Iran, especially as the GCC countries is US allies.

The most significant stumbling block in relations between Iran and Arab neighbors in the Persian Gulf is a long standing dispute over the belonging of the three Islands in the Gulf. Tehran insists that the Islands of Abu Musa, greater and lesser Tunb rightfully belong to him and cannot be considered as a subject of negotiations with the UAE, which in turn also lay claim to these Islands. Arab Gulf countries support the United Arab Emirates. Soon much change Iranian policy in the Persian Gulf should not wait.

Established in early 2011 in the region, the situation of social revolutions in the region has intensified the movement of Arab Shiites in Bahrain, who demanded equal opportunities Sunnis of Bahrain and it's a fact that the Shiites make up 60 % of the population.

In Yemen following the outbreak of unrest breakaway province came under the control of opponents of the ruling regime, which greatly alarmed the Saudis and Americans who see them as bearers of the ideas of the Iranian revolution.

In the end, it can be stated that in recent years the Islamic Republic of Iran, based solely on my own interests, consistently in the region of offensive foreign policy from clerical to nationalist.

However, this does not mean that Iran's regional interests are fully confrontation against the interests of other States in the region of the Middle East. International political practice of recent years shows that Iran's participation is necessary in the solution of many regional problems, in particular: the fight against drug trafficking, the crisis in Iraq, the normalization of the situation in Afghanistan, national reconciliation in Tajikistan, stabilization in the Caucasus, section of the Caspian sea and, more broadly, economic and political cooperation and dialogue between civilizations.

It should be noted that the similarity or identity of views of Russia and Iran on some of these problems, their joint political activity helped to normalize the situation in Tajikistan, to promote positive processes in posttaliban Afghanistan, to outline conditions for the exit of Iraq from the crisis. Both Moscow and Tehran believe that the problems of Afghanistan and Iraq and their peoples lie exclusively in line with UN: under the auspices of the United Nations, with the full assistance of the international community the people of these countries themselves to decide their fate.

Russia and Iran share common views on the inadmissibility of interference in regional Affairs in the Caucasus, Caspian and Central Asia non-regional powers.

Important factor, to a large extent the initiating activity of the foreign policy of Iran at the above-mentioned areas, is that in recent years Iran has been in the ring pockets of instability and conflict in the North is the Armenian – Azerbaijani conflict on Nagorno Karabakh, in the East – the unstable situation in Afghanistan with the problems of refugees and drug trafficking in the Persian Gulf is the unresolved issue of the disputed Islands, in the West – Iraqi "pot", with many problems, in varying degrees, affecting the interests of Tehran in the South in the Arab countries revolution with uncertain consequences.

However, as shown by the results of the events of early 2011 in the region of the Middle East, the Arab revolutions that led to regime change in several countries in the region, strengthened Iran's influence on Shia Arab countries. For the sake of strengthening their positions in the region and in the Muslim world the Iranian regime supports the enemies of the ruling regime, hoping that the revolution will lead to the weakening of the US region.

Despite Western pressure, Iran is developing its nuclear program, improving its armed forces, is gradually transforming into a regional power. Its influence extends to the movement "Hamas" and "Hezbollah" in Palestine and Lebanon. Iran has established contacts with a number of countries in Latin America, in particular Venezuela, has good relations with China.

Revolution in the Arab countries intensify political and military position of Iran, undermining the power competitors in the struggle for leadership in the Islamic world in regional politics. In the worst variant of events in the middle East scenario Iran absorption of the territories of Iraq, Bahrain, Oman, which once belonged to the Persian Empire.

However, the consequences of the Arab revolutions at the beginning of 2011 also poses difficulties for the Iranian regime. Demonstration effect of events in the Arab world exists for him. In Iran, it is their opposition: they also belong to a religious group, but is willing to support the ideas of liberalization of the political process and they have followers, ready to join the ranks of the protesters and to destabilize the Islamic Republic of Iran. Besides there are external factors that can this process in certain circumstances, to catalyze.



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  2. Ganiev T. A., Bondar Yu. M., Cherneta O. G, S. G. Tolmachev, Special country studies. The Islamic Republic Of Iran. Tutorial .M. WU, 2013.
  3. Ganiev T. A. Analysis and forecasting of military-political situation in foreign countries. The Republic Of Afghanistan. Part 2. Training manual. M.: WU, 2008.
  4. Sazhin V. I. the reports of the scientific conference "Place and role of Iran in the region" Institute of Oriental studies, 10 April 2006 .The Middle East Institute
  5. Sazhin V. I. Iran and the security challenges of the near and Middle East. The Middle East Institute. 2005.


Ganiev T. A.

Tags: Iran , assessment

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