The East exploits Iran, but we must work with them

The East exploits Iran, but we must work with them
ID : N-3256 Date : 2018/10/27 - 12:18

(Persia Digest) – A Professor of International Relations in Iran believes: “With the transfer of power and wealth from Western countries to East Asia, any neglect in Iran's foreign policy towards this region is a strategic mistake; because the American-centered order of the world is collapsing and Iran can be effective in shaping the new order through its ties with the East.”

As the new US sanctions come into effect to exert a new round of pressures on Iran, Iranian authorities are once again talking about the “Look to the East” strategy for trade, economic, and political ties. But, Russia has announced that it will fill the vacuum created by Iran’s lack of oil on the market. Reports from China also indicated that this country intends to settle 60 percent of its Iranian oil purchases with barter trade for Chinese goods. As such, can the “Look to the East” still take care of Iran’s interests?

Professor of International Relations at Tehran University, Dr Mohammad Jamshidi, told Persia Digest (PD) in an interview: “The world’s most powerful countries are following the strategy of turning eastward to Asia. Although power shifted to the West in all its aspects in the mid-18th century, this trend has been reversed today with the weakening of these countries and the empowerment of eastern actors. When Obama introduced the policy of turning to Asia, he knew the future of wealth and power was in this region and industry and national income was growing here. In the global assessments published by the United States every five years, it has repeatedly emphasized that the East is expanding economically and militarily.”

He added: “Given the weakness of Western powers and political gaps between them, the East must be a focus of attention and ignoring it would be a strategic mistake. We can also see that in past US administration policies, American presidents have all pursued the strategy of working with the East to some extent to grow their influence here while preventing the growing power of the countries in the region.”

This Iranian expert on foreign policy continued by explaining Iran’s “Look to the East” strategy: “Political will is the first step in this. Unfortunately, many views within Iran on international ties is traditional and based on the belief that the West is still the centerpiece of the world. Although Westerners are an influential power, yet new studies reveal that the American-centered order of the world is collapsing, aided along by US actions. The emergence of right-wingers in Europe today is also a challenge for the West. To this end, the priority of looking to the East needs political will, which, of course, does not mean neglecting the rest of the world.”

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Jamshidi continued: “The second step is the use of political power in relations with the East. Iran, as a major actor in the Middle East, can use its capacity to interact with the East; especially as China is also opposed to the US order. US pressures on Iran have laid the grounds for Tehran's cooperation with Beijing, giving Iran the chance to play a role in shaping the new order."

To the question of whether working with these countries can still benefit Iran despite China’s conditions to pay Iran in commodities rather than money for its oil under the sanctions, and Russia announcing that it will offset the lack of Iranian oil on the market, he answered: “Europe's conditions for Iran are by far more difficult than the eastern ones. Of course, Russia, China, and India have their own interests to consider. We cannot expect them to make sacrifices for us. We had the experience of working with China and other countries under the previous sanctions, which also helped them to advance; but it is important to know which countries will provide the minimum for Iran under difficult conditions. The Chinese proposals are based on the desire of the Iranian government to work with this country.

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Jamshidi reiterated: “Assisting Iran during the US sanctions is also to China’s benefit; but pressurizing Iran and pushing it back from its areas of influence are to Europe’s benefit. Therefore, these descriptions of the conditions set by eastern countries are not correct, because the blows that Iran is suffering are from the West and the monetary-financial channels advertised by the EU are not really in Iran’s interests.”

He reiterated: “I am not a supporter of the East or West. I am stating that one must have transactions where it is possible to do so. China, India, and Russia take advantage of the sanctions and Iran’s position. But the important thing for Iran is to achieve its national interests by taking into account that these countries are the future powers of the world.”

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