World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies

Barcelona, July 19th - 24th 2010


Iran and Foreign Policies (092) - NOT_DEFINED activity_field_Panel

· NOT_DEFINED date: TUE, 20 - 11.30 am - 1.30 pm

· NOT_DEFINED language: English

· NOT_DEFINED description: Chair: Haizam Amirah-Fernández (Senior Analyst - Real Instituto Elcano - Madrid)

Paper presenter: Seyed Masoud Mousavi Shafaee (Assistant Professor, Semnan Univeristy, Semnan, Iran), “A Constructivist View into the Enmity between Iran and the West: Manifestation of the Islamic Revolution Identity in Iranian Foreign Policy Behavior”
This paper explains the construction process of Iranian foreign policy's inimical behavior toward the West through an inside out constructivist approach. The main argument is that to understand this behavior, the domestic meaning system and identity of the Islamic revolution must be deeply considered and comprehended. The study clarifies that the foundational ideas and meaning structures of the Islamic revolution have constructed the West as its ideological other, based on the reconstruction of the encounter between D'ar Al-Islam and D'ar Al-Koufr. At the heart of this meaning system are ideas of independence and freedom, which mean autonomy and emancipation from all forms of Western influence and domination, to act as a free, independent and unrestrained actor in the international system and for attaining self-respect. Such a meaning system has constructed an identity of the Islamic revolution and the interests of the I. R. of Iran in the form of a permanent and irreconcilable enmity between Iran (as the heart of D'ar Al-Islam) and Estekbar-e Jah'ani/global arrogance/the West (as D'ar Al-Harb or Head of D'ar Al-Koufr). Finally, the paper suggests that such a constructed identity and interests have been manifested in the inimical behavior of Iranian foreign policy toward the West

Paper presenter: Ali Granmayeh (Research Associate, London Middle East Institute, SOAS, University of London, UK), “Diplomacy of Failure: Origins and Achievements of Iranian Foreign Policy under Ahmadinejad”
Following the Islamic Revolution, deterioration of Iran's relations with some foreign countries was not unexpected. The governing power in the new regime, which took over in February 1979, had been divided between a xenophobic religious authority centred in the Revolutionary Council and a pragmatist Cabinet, which included technocrats and liberal politicians. In a chaotic revolutionary atmosphere, the moderate government was unable to keep the state politics from the influence of revolutionary organs and harmful activities of unruly radical groups. Consequently, Iran's relations with many countries, in vicinity and beyond, had been affected by domestic factors. In this connection, the seizure of American Embassy in Tehran in November 1979 and the outbreak of Iran-Iraq war in September 1980 were of special significance. Both events had left their impact on Iran's domestic and foreign policies in next decades. By the end of the 8-year war in 1988 and death of Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989, the new leaders adopted a conciliatory policy for the sake of reconstructing their war-stricken country and a rapprochement with the outside world. As such, Iran's foreign policy in the next 16 years pursued a goal of good-neighbourliness in the region and normal relationship with the global powers. However, some problems with the United States had been unsettled. In the path of pragmatism and 'realpolik', which Iranian government adopted under Presidents Rafsanjani and Khatami (1989-2005), Tehran succeeded to repair most of damages of provocation and antagonism that overshadowed its politics in the past decade. Nonetheless, the relatively-liberal policy, which the ''reformist'' government applied in domestic and external politics, did not suit the religious hierarchy and Islamic militants who feared losing power if the public demand for an open society and opening to the world had been realised. Consequently, the dogmatic faction in the establishment used its authority to make an adjustment and replace the ''reformist'' administration with a more conservative and 'ideological' government. Since summer 2005 and the election of Ahmadinejad as president, Iran turned into a new phase of controversy with international community. Some achievements of Iran's foreign policy under Ahmadinejad are the postponement of rapprochement with Europe; worsening of relations with the United States; rising suspicion about Iran's projects in neighbouring countries; objection to Iran's interference in Arab countries particularly Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine; and above all, Resolutions in condemnation of Iran's nuclear activities by the United Nations Security Council. The assessment of Iran's present day external relations would be inconclusive without mentioning the international indignation about the repressive measures and colossal violation of Human Rights in the aftermath of the fraudulent re-election of Ahmadinejad in June 2009.

Paper presenter: Shahram Akbarzadeh (Associate Professor, The University of Melbourne, Australia), “Obama's Iran Dilemma"
When President Barak Obama made an offer of direct talks with the Iranian regime, he did not expect his overture to be interpreted as a betrayal of the democracy movement. But events following the June 2009 election which has deepened internal rifts within the Islamic regime and have highlighted a clear schism between the regime and large sections of the population, have presented the Obama administration with a difficult choice. Talking to the regime could be seen as condoning its brutal crackdown on dissidents, while opting for sanctions could serve to bolster support for the embattled regime. Neither option is attractive or would advance US interest in Iran. The present hard-line leadership in Iran, however, has effectively limited US options by its belligerence. Tehran’s failure to accept a compromise deal brokered by Russia and European powers on its enriched uranium has forced the United States to consider sanctions. This is a delicate move as sanctions need to be severe enough to act as a deterrence for the regime; serious enough to persuade Israel that the world is taking the Iranian threat seriously; but not too severe as to handicap an already ailing Iranian economy and hurting the general population. Finding the balance is not an easy task. Obama’s Iran policy appears to be in transition. While the initial overtures focused on engagement, more and more the administration has been forced to take on a more combative tone regarding Iran’s obligations to the International Atomic Energy Agency. This experience tends to support the neo-conservative critics of Obama, who dismiss the engagement policy as misguided and utopian. The underlying assumption about the congruence of Iranian national interests in the region with that of the United States, which had informed the policy of engagement, is rejected by the neo-conservative commentators. The neo-conservatives have argued that rational calculations do not govern Iranian behaviour; ideology does. The behaviour of the hard-line leadership in Iran to-date, tends to give credence to such criticism. As a result, the Obama administration is facing growing pressure at home and also in Iran to take a less accommodating position on Iran. This policy shift risks blurring the line separating Obama from his predecessor. What is more, the Bush experience with Iran suggests that a harsher policy does not guarantee success.

Paper presenter: Ali Fathollah-Nejad and Miriam Shabafrouz (Ph.D candidate, Research Fellow, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London, UK), “The Geo-Economic Dynamics of Iran Sanctions in a Multipolar World”
The paper will focus on the geo-economic impacts of United States and more broadly Western sanctions on Iran against the backdrop of a multipolar world. Since the Iranian revolution of 1979, Tehran was exposed to unilateral, extraterritorial sanctions by the United States. With the ‘nuclear crisis’ since the turn of the century, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) imposed new rounds of sanctions. These were further pushed by new unilateral sanctions brought forward by the United States, also including financial institutions and alleged 'dual use' goods. A prominently discussed theme in Western capitals are so-called 'crippling sanctions' which are thought to target the delivery of refined oil products to Iran as well as Iranian petroleum exports. From the West’s perspective these should ideally be imposed by the UNSC. However, given the broad economic interests in Iran of veto powers Russia and China, such an outcome is less likely to materialize. That is why Western countries announced they would have to impose such 'crippling sanctions' by themselves. As an introduction to the topic, the first part of the paper will identify the nature of the sanctions, elaborating on the state of the art research on economic and political sanctions. It is relevant here to systematically consider declared intentions and observable effects of different types of sanctions, starting from general political and economic to more focussed ‘smart’ sanctions. Part two considers the ongoing debate amongst scholars and decision-makers on the direct and indirect effects of the different types of sanctions, highlighting the most controversial issues and their theoretical backings. The third part will investigate the geo-economic repercussions of the Iran sanctions regime on the emerging geography of power in the 21st century. In so doing, the competition between great powers, such as the United States, the member states of the European Union, Russia, China and India, will be assessed. Also Iranian responses ‘both rhetorical and actual’ to the sanctions regime will be taken into account. A concluding chapter will deduce scenarios for the further development of current and envisaged sanctions and discuss alternative steps of interaction.

Paper presenter: Fahri Türk (Dr.,Trakya University, Turkey), “Turkish-Iranian trade relations between 2000 and 2008"
Turkish-Iranian Trade Relations between 2000 and 2008 Turkish-Iranian relations have been developed very well in recent years. Especially the trade relations grew up very rapidly in the period of 2000 and 2008. The volume of Turkish-Iranian Trade was between 1990 and 2000 nearly 8 billion US Dollar, which raised approximately to 40 billion from 2000 to 2007. That means the Turkish-Iranian trade multiplied in this 10-year period. The Turkish-Iranian Treaty on the preventing of double taxation and on supporting of mutual investments played an important part by developing trade relations between both countries. According to Kür’ad Tüzmen, the state minister for foreign trade, Turkish firms invested 1,1 billion US dollar in this year (2008) in Iran. Another issue area for the Turkish-Iranian trade relations is natural gas trade, which will be dealt in this paper with. The Turkish Government signed an agreement on the natural gas import on the 8th August 1996 with the Iranian Government for 25 years. Turkey imported 2,7 billion cubic meter natural gas from Iran between 2001 and 2008. So Iran is second country regarding to the Turkish natural gas import, from which Ankara imports natural gas since 2001. According to the above mentioned agreement Iran must sell per annum 10 billion cubic meter natural gas to Turkey that cannot be fulfilled by Iran since 2003. Therefore Iran cut each year the natural gas flow to the Turkey, which disturbs the diplomatic relations between both countries. In order to solve this problem Iran has started to build a separate natural gas pipeline (Niandoab- Bazergan) to the Turkish-Iranian border with a total length of 420 kilometers. Beside that Ankara and Tehran signed a memorandum of understanding on the natural gas import from Iran to Turkey on 13th July 2007, which foresees the natural gas production by Turkey on the South Persian fields. For this purpose Turkey will invest about 3,5 billion US dollar in Iran. USA criticized this agreement sharply, which is rejected from Turkish Government. Because Ankara needs to diversify its natural gas suppliers in order to be independent from a specific country like Russia. Turkey hopes that the reservations of the US Government to the Turkish-Iranian agreement under Barack Obama will be resolved.