International System and Iranophobia

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Behzad Khoshandam
PhD Student in International Relations

Dimensions and Consequences

As freedom-seeking movements are soaring in the Arab world, certain international players are trying to relive the international phenomenon generally known as Iranophobia. Although, experts on Iran’s issues have been familiar with this term for almost 30 years, the new wave of Iranophobia enjoys special characteristics which are related to new regional movements.

The main feature of the new phenomenon is efforts made by the same international players to combine Iranophobia with Islamophobia, which especially involves Shia faith, and highlights Iran’s role in instigating regional uprisings that are inspired by the model of the Islamic Revolution. Therefore, some international players are trying to reorient recent regional developments by overemphasis on the role of the Iranian and Islamic model in inspiring such movements.

Another characteristic of the new trend is endeavors by some international players to make a link between this issue and consequences of following the Iranian model of resistance. They are also trying to equate the aforesaid Islamic and Iranian model with the Islamic radicalism. Hilary Clinton’s remarks in April 2011 about possible repeat of Iran’s Islamic Revolution in the region are a remarkable instance to the point.

Incompatibility of Iranophobia with recognized principles of international law such as independence, sovereignty, non-interference, right to self-determination, right to neighborhood, and so on, is another characteristic of this trend which is also closely related to such international doctrines as humanitarian intervention, supporting civilians, responsibility to protect (R2P) and preemptory defense.

Efforts aimed to take advantage of important international organizations such as the United Nations’ affiliated bodies (especially the Security Council and Human Rights Council), the (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council, the Arab League and NATO in parallel to adoption of hostile policies and strategies like international sanctions, threat, and containment are major tools used to manage this phenomenon.

The international players’ effort to relive Iranophobia at international level will be ensued with various consequences which may affect a host of regional and international developments and interactions. One of the most prominent of those consequences is related to emerging power equations in the Middle East and South Asia, security of energy, drug trafficking, refugees problem as well as how the international system is going to deal with networked players such as Al Qaeda and Taliban.

Although direct and indirect efforts by international community aimed at promoting Iranophobia may seem ordinary, short- and long-term consequences of this phenomenon will have great impact on the existing and emerging security and political structure of the international system. So, they cannot be ignored by any neutral political expert. It seems that experiences in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya have set good examples for the international system to prevent purposive endeavors by certain international players to promote Iranophobia. Some measures taken at international level aim to deprive Iran of its inalienable rights in the region and the international system. They are also bent on limiting Iran’s security, civilizational, cultural and strategic influence. This seems to be followed by negative consequences for the international system both in medium- and long-term which will outweigh its short-term benefits. Due to its civilizational and cultural background as well as its wealth of human resources in addition to geopolitical and geostrategic advantages, Iran will sway high influence in regional and international developments regardless of the ongoing scenarios concocted by the world powers. Therefore, intensification of Iranophobia by certain international players can only create temporary barriers to Iran’s progress in that direction.