The ever-expanding Iranian diplomacy

TEHRAN, Jul. 06 (MNA) – It seems that neither Iran nor the United States has a strong desire to revive the JCPOA as soon as possible, which has largely shown the importance of the JCPOA itself has declined.

The talks to revive JCPOA are still at an impasse at present. It seems that neither Iran nor the United States has a strong desire to revive the JCPOA as soon as possible, which has largely shown that the importance of the JCPOA itself has declined. In other words, the existing U.S. sanctions are no longer so deadly to Tehran, and Iran’s nuclear development is no longer the core issue of the USA.

Another possible explanation for the negative attitude of the United States and Iran is that the two countries have or are exploring other new paths to develop bilateral relations. After all, the greatest value of reviving the JCPOA lies in promoting the development of U.S.-Iranian relations.

Although Iran is not yet a world power, to a large extent it has the strength and ability to influence the world power competition. Washington is well aware of this. It is against this background that the Biden administration has partly eased its attitude towards Iran and actively participated in the Vienna talks.

Also, this attitude of the Biden administration has a lot to do with Iran's Look East. Facing the national development dilemma brought about by the international sanctions promoted by the United States in the past 40 years, the Iranian government has clearly put forward the diplomatic idea of the Look East since Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s presidency.

Donald John Trump administration's Maximum Pressure made Iranian policymakers further increase their emphasis on the Look East. Since 2018, a number of important Iranian figures, including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, have repeatedly stressed that Iran should pay more attention to the Look East and deepen relations with non-Western countries such as China and Russia.

It is against this background that Iran and China have joined hands to promote the development of a comprehensive strategic partnership in recent years, and signed a 25-year comprehensive cooperation agreement in March 2021. At the same time, Iran has also been seeking to deepen relations with Russia, and a long-term comprehensive cooperation agreement between Iran and Russia has been negotiated.

The United States, which is vigorously containing Russia and China, is clearly unwilling to see Iran fall to the side of its strategic rivals. This is the fundamental reason why the Biden administration has actively eased its diplomacy with Iran and participated in the Vienna talks after taking office.

Recent Iranian Diplomatic Practices

In fact, Iran also wants to ease relations with Western powers. For more than a year, especially since Ebrahim Raisi became president in August 2021, Iran has been implementing balanced diplomacy. On the one hand, Iran participates in the Vienna talks to improve and develop relations with the west, and on the other hand, it continues to look east to further deepen relations with China, Russia, and other countries.

In addition to dealing with relations with world powers, Iran's diplomacy with its neighbors has also been carried out relatively well. As early as April 2021, Iran and Saudi Arabia began direct talks in Iraq to restore diplomatic relations that were interrupted in early 2016. Raisi administration has continued this series of talks with Saudi Arabia.

Through the Vienna talks and Iraq talks, Iran's relations with Western powers and Saudi Arabia have been eased to a certain extent, which has had a positive impact on the attitude of some Arab countries, especially the [Persian] Gulf Arab countries, towards Iran. Moreover, Iran maintains close ties with both Syria and post-Saddam Iraq. It can be said that Iran is currently in the best political environment in West Asia since the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

Another point that cannot be ignored is that, as a regional production and manufacturing power, and for historical and cultural reasons, Iran has a greater influence on its neighbors in Central Asia and the Caucasus. After becoming a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the exchanges between Iran and Central Asia and other SCO member states will be further enhanced.

Obviously, in recent years, Iran has made remarkable achievements in its interactions with world powers and its neighbors.

Iranian Diplomatic Outlook

Although U.S.-Iranian relations may deteriorate again over certain issues or at certain times in the future, the easing of the relationship between Iran and the United States has basically become a trend. Moreover, more Iranians, including some people in the system, hope that Iran can have more friendly exchanges with western powers.

But the Look East will still be one of the key elements of Iran's diplomacy going forward. Tehran's policymakers understand that without the Look East, the United States and other western powers are likely not to ease their attitude towards Iran. At present, the world pattern is changing, and implementing balanced diplomacy between the East and the West is a strong guarantee for Iran to maximize its national interests.

Iran is a country with the heart of great power, and many Iranians with high self-esteem are not satisfied with just positioning their country as a regional power. This is something the outside world cannot ignore when dealing with Iran. Therefore, in addition to paying attention to world powers, Iran also strives to carry out more active regional diplomacy. Iran will not only continue to consolidate its key role in West Asia, Central Asia, and the Caucasus but also expand its diplomatic scope and increase diplomatic efforts in South Asia, Southeast Asia, Africa, and Latin America. It should be noted, however, that the effectiveness of Iran's great power diplomacy and regional diplomacy to a large extent depends on its domestic political environment.

Hongda Fan is a Professor at the Middle East Studies Institute of Shanghai International Studies University

News Code 188832

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