November 10, 2018 11:30
News ID: 3291

(Persia Digest) – A Professor of International Relations in Tehran believes: “’The look to the East’ strategy can only realize Iran’s short-term, non-strategic objectives with these countries. Resolving security, political, and economic issues through Eastern countries is a great deal to expect.”

“The look to the East” strategy has been renewed by certain Iranian officials following the reinstatement of US unilateral sanctions and increased pressures. Can a strategy of looking to the East meet the interests of Iran?

Professor of International Relations at Tehran University, Dr Nasser Hadian, told Persia Digest (PD): “To begin with, we must find a definition for “East”. Is this the political, economic, ideological, geographical, or cultural “East”? If this is the “Ideological East”, it barely exists anymore. Even China, as a communist country, no longer makes the same ideological claims as the former Soviet Union. The “Political East” is not fully formed yet and has no power bases that can be relied on. In this definition, China may be centered on forming a coalition with the presence of Russia and Pakistan against the coalition that the United States is seeking to create.”

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He continued: “But the debate of forming such a coalition will happen in the next 25-30 years. Therefore, the “Political East” can be of no help for Iran’s current difficulties. Nevertheless, expanding ties with India and China in certain sectors like oil sales, money transfers, and short-term, non-strategic plans will be effective.”

He added: “The “Geographical East” includes Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Sri Lanka, and a number of other countries. But a lack of unison makes this ineffective. The “Economic East” within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) framework also lacks the authority to resolve strategic issues and cannot be relied on. As such, relying on the East to resolve Iran’s security, political, and economic concerns is not feasible.”

This International Relations expert went on to say about the “Cultural East”: “This “East” is linked to Iran’s culture and civilization. Iran has a natural place here and must focus on it regardless of any looks to the East or West.”

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Hadian continued by commenting on working with the East for Iran’s non-strategic, routine issues, reiterating: “This requires a strong diplomacy which must not be limited to the Foreign Ministry. Every ministry or organization must communicate with these countries in the areas of their responsibilities. Iran must increase its economic and military-defense ties with these countries to reach its short-term goals. Better economic and security ties with Pakistan and more interaction with Afghanistan in the fight against terrorism and drug trafficking are some of the issues which must be focused on. Iran must establish the same ties it has with Turkey with Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.”

He spoke about Russia's stance in the “Look to the East” strategy, saying: “I did not define Russia in this strategy. Ties between Iran and Russia must expand regardless of this strategy. More imports-exports with Russia can solve Iran’s issues in the economic sector to some extent. Russia plays an important role as a neighbor. This can happen if the political will is there. Iran can increase its presence in Russia like Turkey. This must be pursued independently of the look to East or the West.”

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