Iran’s Foreign Policy Needs Paradigm Change: Transition From Middle Eastern Terror To Geo-Economics – OpEd

By Massoud Mousavi Shafaei*

Unlike the era of the Cold War, when concentration of power within framework of a bipolar world system was considered as a major feature, we are now witnessing multiple power centers under the present international conditions. As a result, analysts have been talking about a multipolar system or even a non-polar world system.

The main effect of multiplicity of power centers is fluidity of international system and emergence of new conditions for action in various regional environments. This is true because both the ability and determination of traditional big powers (mostly Western) for direct engagement in regional conflicts have decreased so that they are more inclined toward indirect presence in those conflicts and setting the direction for a fluid regional balance of power.

For this reason, at the present time, emerging and regional powers have tuned into active actors and are trying under new conditions to boost their power and influence.

Under these circumstances, the dominance of a geo-economic logic and opportunities for cooperation and prosperity, which are embedded in it, have brought relative order and stability to some regions, including East Asia. On the opposite, the dominance of the geopolitics of terror has brought instability, war and conflict to some other regions, including the Middle East. In the meantime, due to its international role and geographical position, Iran is situated between two regions, which follow two different logics. The first region is Asia in its general sense, which seems to be heading toward geo-economics of hope, with the second region behind the Middle East, which is now engulfed by the geopolitics of terror.

The necessity and importance of a major turn in Iran’s foreign policy from the geopolitics of the Middle Eastern terror to the geo-economy of Asian hope is due to the fact that we are currently witnessing incremental, accumulated and contagious crises in the Middle East. As a result, talking about any form of cooperation, especially economic cooperation and convergence and establishment of a cooperative regional order under such conditions is more similar to a lame joke.

Under these critical conditions, if we extended the scope of our analysis beyond the Middle East and Southwest Asia, we would see other regions where the framework for cooperation and rivalry has been defined on the basis of a geo-economic logic in such a way that relative order and stability has been maintained in those regions. Therefore, two main arguments can be put forth in this regard:

1. Making an effort to rebuild the regional order in the Middle East within framework of the logic or paradigm of geopolitics and through military and security domination is very difficult, if not impossible. This region is now trapped in all kinds of conflicts that arise from the geopolitics of terror. There are many ethnic and religious conflicts, terrorism, collapse of governments, civil wars, and so forth in the region, which are incremental, accumulated and contagious in nature and depict a picture that foretells endless conflicts.

Under the present circumstances, the outlook for the reconstruction of the regional order seems improbable, because neither the big powers have the ability and resolve to build a new order here, nor suitable conditions are in place for establishment of a hegemonic order by a single regional powers, nor there is any promising outlook for creation of a cooperative order.

2. Due to its geographical position, Iran is situated between two regions, which follow two different logics. The first region is Asia in its general sense and with its own geo-economic logic, with the second region being the Middle East, with its own geopolitical logic. We are all aware of difficulties of making a paradigm change in Iran’s foreign policy, but as geopolitical, military and security conflicts escalate in the Middle East and Southwest Asia, the necessity and importance of turning toward Asian geo-economic structures is felt more than before.

It is evident that this paradigm change does not mean that Iran should end its influence in the Middle East, because as a result of geographical and geopolitical realities, Iran’s presence in the Middle East is vital for protecting the country’s national security. The meaning of paradigm change is a subjective and objective development, which would be able to prioritize the country’s spheres of influence (the Middle East, Southwest Asia, Central Asia…) and type of influence (security, military, economic, cultural…) in line with the Islamic Republic’s national interests. In the second step, limited resources of the country must be allocated in an optimal manner, and policies aimed at achieving goals (not just oriented toward fulfilling obligations) be adopted in order to guarantee sustainable security and national prosperity of the country.

*Massoud Mousavi Shafaei
Faculty Member at Tarbiat Modarres University & Political Economy Researcher

Source: The International


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Iran Review is a Tehran-based site that is independent, non-governmental and non-partisan and representing scientific and professional approaches towards Iran’s political, economic, social, religious, and cultural affairs, its foreign policy, and regional and international issues within the framework of analysis and articles.

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