By Iran Review
By Behzad Khoshandam*
Relations between Iran and the United States under the new president, Donald Trump, will take shape under the influence of the logic, teachings, and requirements of global and regional systems of balance of powers.
To list some variables that play a significant role in determining the two sides’ relations at the current juncture, one could name political and ideological encounters, mutual historical hostilities, implementation of Iran’s nuclear deal with the P5+1 group of countries, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), impact of political and strategic structures of the two sides, as well as their regional behaviors and roles and the level of effectiveness of diplomacy and international institutions.
At present, the most important point is that whether recognition of the Iran exception will continue in US foreign policy under the country’s 45th president? The quality and outcome of recognizing this situation are also important.
The requirements for realizing the balance of powers have triggered a new period of Cold War since 2014, thus boosting the importance of geopolitics in strategic discussions. Under such conditions, Iran’s geopolitical and strategic importance and its position were promoted in the third millennium in a gradual manner and in the light of such developments as the war in Afghanistan in 2001, invasion of Iraq in 2003, and emergence of Arab Spring developments in 2011. In the meantime, the Iran exception was recognized by such an influential actor as the Obama-led US on the basis of his “change” motto and following global crises in Ukraine, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.
There are complicated issues in world politics, which have made a compromise and some kind of deal among the United States, Russia, China and other influential European and Asian actors inevitable. Under these conditions, one of the most important issues will be the collection of security and strategic components of the United States’ Middle Eastern foreign policy under the Trump-led US as Washington tries to stabilize the system of strategic balance of powers, as well as its policies toward Iran and the region.
Based on its potentialities and its power to find allies and learn at international, regional and national levels, Iran will remain one of the challenging components and a partner to security and strategic architecture of the system of balance of strategic power in such fields as human rights, the peace process in the Middle East and the fight against radical groups. Every one of the aforesaid actors will try in accordance with their strategic and tactical needs to increase their share of the Iran pie. At the same time, due to its national power components, Iran in 2016 has acquired and legal characteristics, which make it a stabilizing force in the Middle East and Southwest Asia. As a result of these characteristics, real potentialities of this actor cannot be unilaterally used by any other actor.
Positions taken by President Trump during his election debates and in his election approaches strongly suggested that he and his foreign policy team deeply believed in Iran’s unique position and effective dynamism in the US foreign policy during the third millennium. Under these conditions, Trump’s two main characteristics, that is, unpredictability and pragmatism in the field of foreign policy, in addition to complexities of Iran’s domestic policies, will further complicate fears and hopes in Iran-US relations under Trump.
Other factors, which can be taken into account in this regard include, liberalism, American values, Iran’s regional rivals, Israel, Daesh, role of China, Russia and Asian order in addition to the impact of such important global institutions as the United Nations, the European Union, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, West’s missile defense system, the (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and Iran’s regional role and possible direction of its regional policy.
According to historical and geopolitical experiences, the Iran exception will continue in US foreign policy under Trump. As a result, various scenarios of confrontation between American and Iranian interests and values are imaginable on the global chessboard in order to pave the way for the emerging and balancing world order.
Under present complicated conditions that govern global developments beyond 2016 on the basis of Trump’s leadership of US foreign policy, the Iran exception will remain an important and basic factor for the stabilization or continuation of security and geopolitical trends in Eurasia, the Middle East, the Persian Gulf, Europe and other security complexes. Under these circumstances, strategic differences between these two actors will remain in place, but both the Iranian and American diplomacy and soft power will give birth to historic events in order to help them adapt to the emerging global and regional strategic balance and new retrenchments.
Without a doubt, these developments will be among the most important foreign policy developments under the 45th president of the United States, which will once more introduce Iran as an adaptive, consensus-seeking and exceptional model in US foreign policy during past few decades and even beyond Trump’s term in office.
* Behzad Khoshandam
Ph.D. in International Relations & Expert on International Issues