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Iran's Capacities for Creating Security and Stability in Asia

Monday, May 25, 2015

Mehrdad Pahlevani
Asia Analyst

The use and application of the general image of governments is more effective in the modern world than the practical steps those governments take. Efforts made to tarnish the image of some countries have been so intense that even those who made those efforts gradually came to believe them as true. On the other hand, there are many governments that despite possessing weapons of mass destruction and supporting terrorist groups, have never been introduced as agents of insecurity. Diplomatic measures taken by Iran in the past few months on the initiative of the Islamic Republic of Iran have changed the false image that had been projected of Iran as an “actor that undermines security.” As a result, and on the strength of the new political capacities of the country and also because of its geographical position and cultural and civilization background, the way is now paved for Tehran to play its role as an actor that “fosters security” taking into account that for Asian countries, security is meaningful in three military, economic and political fields.

1. Military security: Asia is an arena for emerging powers and emergence of these countries needs an atmosphere of security away from all kinds of security threats. Even in theories of “widening security,” they say that “physical security” is the first stage of creating overarching security. Asia, especially the Middle East, have currently become an arena for terrorist groups and as terrorist activities spilt over from Syria into Iraq, global sensitivity about the measures taken by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, known as ISIS, has been increasing. In the meantime, as terrorist activities of the ISIS escalate in Syria and Iraq, Iran has been finding itself wedged between two serious foci of threat, that is, an Afghanistan, which is plagued with Taliban and Al-Qaeda, and an Iraq, which is grappling with the ISIS. In other words, Iran is the frontline of fighting two major global threats, one of which was the cause of 9/11 terror attacks and the other one has been demonstrating a new version of violence and ultimate savagery in Syria and Iraq.

Therefore, the threat posed by terrorist groups is felt by Iran firsthand and international system should come to a correct understanding that by being situated in such a sensitive region, Iran cannot be an actor that seeks to undermine security because it has turned into the most accessible destination for all kinds of extremist groups in the first place. In the second place in terms of importance is the fact that Iran's role in containment of regional crises is such that if twin crises that are boiling in its neighboring countries, crossed the Iranian borders, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to set the next limit for the spread of the twin crises that are plaguing Iraq and Afghanistan. Despite high strategic and military capabilities of Iran, which have been frequently proven, it would be more rational and cautious if the country took steps to boost cooperation with the rest of the world in fighting terrorists. Asian governments have been more exposed to the risks of extremism than other countries and although international sanctions against Iran have not had a tangible effect on Iran's military might and its fight against terrorists, they are potentially able to reduce Iran's power to fight such groups.

2. Economic security: The new identity of Asian countries has been an economic one and this identity has been strongly linked to the issue of energy as guarantor of the economic growth of these countries. By reclaiming its deserved and true position, Iran can easily turn into a reliable energy supply source for emerging countries in Asia. When it comes to importing energy, Asian countries have two options to choose from. On the one hand, importing energy from Iran can strengthen economic stamina of a country with a powerful backdrop of civilization whose viewpoints are based on rationality and, in ideological terms, is in fundamental conflict with Wahhabism and extremism. On the other hand, importing energy from Saudi Arabia would mean strengthening a country that has been a regular supporter of Wahhabi groups. Although Saudi Arabia can never be totally excluded from global oil equations, it can be remarkably controlled. More than dealing a serious blow to Tehran’s economy, sanctions imposed against Iran have harmed international financial system and have paved the way for emergence of black and illegal markets while depriving Asian countries of the opportunity to engage in economic cooperation with Iran. Of course, there are still grounds to change this situation.

3. Political security: Asia has experienced serious and prolonged crises some of which have progressed to the brink of all-out war. Negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program are meant to provide grounds for the resolution of one of the most important political matters, which has been undoubtedly preoccupying a large part of international community. It seems that this case is on the verge of getting out of its critical phase. This development, which is a product of Tehran’s determination and West’s answer to that determination, can be then introduced as a rule model for the resolution of other conflicts in Asia. The importance of a model that has been worked out under conditions of crisis is that such a model has come out of the resolution of a profound crisis whose sides originally stuck to maximum and totally opposite demands. By distancing from idealistic views and through responsible behavior of the two sides to the negotiations, this model can actually turn into the first piece in a domino which can lead to the resolution of other crises in Asia.

Key Words: Iran, Capacities, Security, Stability, Asia, Military Security, Economic Security, Political Security, ISIS, Syria, Iraq, Al-Qaeda, Wahhabism, Extremism, Pahlevani

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