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  • Author: Muhammad Salman Khan
  • Publication Date: 12-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Iranian Review of Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Center for Strategic Research
  • Abstract: National interest often forms the core of bilateral ties between states. No matter how much idealism is peddled to explain the unassailability of the State's bilateral relations, the national interests and related diplomatic preferences spawn abrasion in these ties. The change of leadership is a consequence of elections results in a national reassessment of foreign policy. This paper attempts to highlight Pakistan's foreign policy dilemma regarding the walking of a tightrope between Tehran and Riyadh. It is argued that the balancing act of Islamabad in this triad is further complicated in the aftermath of 2013 general elections in Pakistan. The new Nawaz Sharif administration's unveiled connection with the Saudi Kingdom, the current tides in the Saudi-Iran-U.S. triangle, and the impending and complex drawdown of international forces from Afghanistan further confounds the trajectory of Pakistan's foreign policy, especially in the zero sum dynamics of Saudi-Iran rivalry.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States, Iran, East Asia, Tehran, Saudi Arabia, Riyadh
  • Author: Farhad Atai
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Iranian Review of Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Center for Strategic Research
  • Abstract: Developments in the Middle East in the past decades, and especially in the past few years, have drawn the world's attention to this region. Never since the break-up of the Ottoman Empire at the beginning of the 20th century has the region been so volatile and explosive. While the Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues to have a deciding effect on the Middle East, other issues have appeared, further complicating the politics of the region. The stunning socio-political developments in the Arab world during the past year, which started in Tunisia and spread to Egypt, Yemen, Libya and Bahrain are still unfolding and will permanently change the Arab World. Where does Iran fit into the political dynamics of the Middle East in these turbulent times? This paper attempts to answer that question. After a review of the recent developments in the Arab world, it examines the Islamic Republic's position in the region in the light of the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979, the breakup of the Soviet Union and subsequent developments in Central Asia, the U.S.-led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq as well as the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah. The paper suggests that the changing geopolitics of the region has positioned Iran in a relatively stronger position vis-à-vis the Sunni-Shi'a debate. It further suggests that three decades after its Islamic Revolution, Iran has matured. This is especially true in the wake of the rising extremist tendencies and groups such as al-Qa'ida in the region. Once the shorter term issues are resolved, Iran can have a moderating influence on the dynamics of the region.
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iraq, Iran, Central Asia, Middle East, Israel, Yemen, Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain
  • Author: Ali Omidi
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Iranian Review of Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Center for Strategic Research
  • Abstract: Security is the main concern or raison d'être of any state. The Islamic republic of Iran and the west have had common geopolitical concerns, with some convergence in Afghanistan. The first security priority of the U.S. in particular and Europe in general after the September 11 events has been coping with terrorism in its heartland, i.e. Afghanistan. This paper, after a short review of Iran's historical relations with Afghanistan as well as its geopolitical importance for Tehran, examines Iran's main security concerns stemming from Afghanistan and the consequent Iranian narration of those threats in the post-9/11 era. The article argues that Iranian policy and even ideals for Afghanistan's long-term security is similar to the Iraqi model: outright withdrawal of foreign troops and national self-reliance on security issues. Therefore, Iran welcomes NATO's drawback from Afghanistan in 2014 and implicitly cooperates with the west in Afghanistan for viable and indigenous security.
  • Topic: Security
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iraq, Europe, Iran
  • Author: Naser Hadian, Shani Hormozi
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Iranian Review of Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Center for Strategic Research
  • Abstract: The Iran-US relations since 1979 Revolution have remained tension-ridden. Various efforts towards resolution of the sensitive and critical issues between them have failed to bear fruit. The present article looks into the state of these relations from the vantage of Iran's security environment and how the U.S. policies, particularly since the 2001 occupation of Afghanistan and 2003 war of choice in Iraq, have dramatically affected Iran's immediate security environment. The paper argues that as a result of the removal of the Taliban and Ba'athist regimes and the emergence of pro-Iran ruling coalitions in Afghanistan and Iraq, Iran's regional stature and influence was enhanced, which also coincided with simultaneous shrinking of US material and symbolic resources in the region. The article also tries to shed light on the parameters of Iran 's security environment, decision making processes, sources of security and defense policies, which would help towards a better understanding of the reasons and rationale for the still tumultuous relations with the US, including in particular on Iran's nuclear program. A review of the past U.S. strategies in dealing with Iran as well as of the alternative strategies currently on the table – Containment, Comprehensive and Selective Engagements, Military option – and Iran's Counter Containment strategy, indicates that given the actual situation in the region a mere continuation of the past might simply prove impossible. A full-scale confrontation or a major reconciliation appears to be the only possible scenarios for the future. The paper concludes that Comprehensive Engagement will instead present a way out of the decades-old conflict with tremendous benefits for the protagonists and the surrounding region.
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iraq, Iran, Taliban
  • Author: Raffaele Mauriello
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Iranian Review of Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Center for Strategic Research
  • Abstract: Barack Obama's message to the Iranian people and government on the occasion of Nowruz 1388 (2009) and the appointment of Vali Nasr earlier the same year as Senior Advisor to the US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan arguably marked a turning point in the US foreign policy vis-à- vis the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Shi'as at large; indicating an enhanced role for Shi'i Studies in shaping American foreign policy.. However, a number of European and American historians of Islam have endeavored for quite some time to inform both the Western governments and the general public that there is the necessity to distinguish between Islam as an “object” of study within the framework of the history of religions and Islam as a political phenomenon–and therefore as an object of study for the political scientist. The present article, drawing on the writer's understanding of some implications of a recent work of synthesis about the history of the academic historiography concerning Shi'i Islam by the Italian Shi'itologist/historian Biancamaria Scarcia Amoretti (November 2010), addresses the implications of the post-1979 re-interpretation of Shi'i history in political terms. It argues that in the crisis in the relations between the West and Muslim societies two alternative approaches are conceivable. Either it is assumed that Islam as a religion has little to do with the crisis and that this is the result of geo-politics, political interests, and economic competition among states (Graham 2010), or alternatively, that Islam is in fact the relevant issue at stake, in which case it calls for a serious, scholarly discussion of Islam, primarily as a religion, and hence, a matter of theology and history.
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States, Europe, Italy
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Iranian Review of Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Center for Strategic Research
  • Abstract: On 19 October 2010 a two-session roundtable was held at the Center for Strategic Research (CSR) with the participation of a delegation from the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP). The SWP delegation, a guest of the Institute for Political and International Studies (IPIS) – the Foreign Ministry's think tank - engaged with Iranian experts in a wide-ranging discussion on Iran– EU relations as well as on regional issues of common interest. In the first session on regional issues, the war in Afghanistan and the Middle East peace process were discussed.
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iran, Middle East, Germany
  • Author: Fahimeh Ghorbani
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Iranian Review of Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Center for Strategic Research
  • Abstract: North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), originally created in the post-WW2 world as an organization dedicated to the collective defense of its member states and a countervailing force against the Warsaw Pact, has undergone tremendous change since. The first major turning point came in the wake of the end of the Cold War and the bipolar world. The new situation changed the Organization's mission, functions, and policies mainly within the European theatre, as best reflected in NATO's military intervention in the Balkans (former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. The second wave of change came in the wake of 9/11 and the subsequent direct engagement in Afghanistan; NATO's new function as a military arm of the United Nations – which continues to date.
  • Topic: NATO, Cold War, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Europe, Yugoslavia, Balkans
  • Author: Shirin Akiner
  • Publication Date: 04-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Iranian Review of Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Center for Strategic Research
  • Abstract: Ambiguous, often contradictory, assessments of the achievements of NATO/ISAF operations in Afghanistan make it difficult to form a clear picture of the situation on the ground. However, despite the rhetoric of politicians and military leaders who speak of 'sticking it out' till the job is done, there are unmistakable signals that the endgame has started. The emphasis now is on fashioning an exit strategy that will justify the claim of 'mission accomplished'. It is ironic that it is only now, with the dawning awareness that 'a victor's peace is impossible', that the importance of involving the regional states is finally being recognized. With the exception of Pakistan, which from the outset played a strategic role in Western-led operations, there was an implicit reluctance, amounting to a virtual ban, on cooperating with these states as equal partners. China, Russia and Iran were largely ignored, while the Central Asian states were regarded mainly as transit routes. Yet by geography, history, ethnic ties and culture, Afghanistan is an integral part of the region. The 'neighbourhood' states are neither unaware nor indifferent to what happens there. Before and since 2001 there have been regional initiatives aimed at promoting stability and development in Afghanistan. This paper gives an overview of the main initiatives, bilateral and multilateral which seek to promote the country's re-integration into regional cultural, economic and security networks.
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia, China, Iran, Central Asia
  • Author: Erzsébet N. Rózsa
  • Publication Date: 04-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Iranian Review of Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Center for Strategic Research
  • Abstract: It is widely held that the 21st century will be China's century on the global stage, while Iran, in the beginning of the 21st century, is becoming a regional power in the Middle East even if the limits to its power can be questioned. Both countries stand practically alone, without allies in a world that looks upon their expansion unfavourably, if not with outright hostility. The 21st century, however, will not be the period of gaining influence by military means, even if the use of military force cannot be excluded. One of the main characteristics of both the Chinese and the Iranian expansions is economic expansion. Chinese presence is booming in the Middle East. Iran has developed a significant economic activity in Western Afghanistan, then in Iraq. Both countries look back on ancient civilisations, to which they frequently refer to and which contributes to their perceptions of the surrounding world. China has traditionally perceived itself as the centre of the universe. Iran, by the right of its Islamic revolution of 1979, wishes to be the leading power of the Islamic world. Ayatollah Khomeini was speaking of Islam, in spite of the fact that the Islamic government put forward by him is rooted in Shiite Islam. This leading role seems to return under the presidency of Ahmadinejad – even if in a new form. 11 September 2001 has created the moving space for Iran in which it can become a regional power.
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, China, Iraq, Iran, Middle East, West Asia
  • Author: Michele Brunelli
  • Publication Date: 04-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Iranian Review of Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Center for Strategic Research
  • Abstract: Despite deep differences shown during 2003 Iraqi crisis, European Union expresses a joint policy towards the Persian Gulf. This is essentially based on the equation: “economy” = “development” and so “security and stability”. Economy is the tool which is really trans-European: it means that despite some different approaches on few geopolitical issues of its members, it remains fundamental pillar on which a real “European Foreign Policy”, can be built. During last years, this particular approach allowed EU: i) to start a fruitful discussion with GCC countries about a Persian Gulf currency union, ii) to include in its Agenda establishment of a free trade area with the GCC countries, iii) start negotiations for an EC-Iran Trade and Cooperation agreement, iv) to involve Iran, Iraq and Yemen in this process. All these actions will allow EU to create an area of dialogue, cooperation and exchange, which is one of the EU top priorities. A new wider space of cooperation composed of the countries belonging to the MENA region, GAFTA, Persian Gulf, Iraq and Yemen. While European Union has chosen a “more economic” approach, US policy towards the Persian Gulf is “more political”. US equation is: “freedom and democracy” – even coercively imposed = “security and stability for a specific area” = “security and stability for the US”. But in some parts of the world this strategy showed some imperfections (Afghanistan), demonstrating its fallacy (Iraq). In some cases US applied political model which doesn't reflect social, political realities and doesn't respect historical roots and heritages of the area.
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iraq, Europe, Iran, Yemen, Persia