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Iran's Foreign Policy in 2015

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Behzad Khoshandam
Ph.D. in International Relations & Expert on International Issues

The year 2015 has been one of the most successful years during the past century in which Iran's foreign policy has been at its highest degree of operational productivity. In this year, foreign policy heavily overshadowed the country’s domestic policy, clearing a path for the first time in the past 15 years for Iran to engage in international and regional interactions.

During 2015, Iran's foreign policy trends with regard to such issues as the nuclear issue, the fight against terrorism and extremism, management of developments related to peripheral regions, human rights, as well as bilateral and multilateral relations underwent profound and fundamental changes.

During 2015, Iran's foreign policy underwent special regeneration through relative interaction with important international organizations (UN, NATO, EU, and IAEA), big powers (the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain), actors in the Middle East, neighboring countries (including Saudi Arabia and Turkey), as well as global and regional crises (including the crises in Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Yemen and Bahrain).

The key to correct understanding of developments in Iran's foreign policy with regard to the country’s nuclear issue in 2015 is the prioritization and enforcement of the “constructive interaction doctrine” in the area of foreign policy by Iran's 11th administration. The constructive interaction doctrine was adopted as an operational model for Iran's impartial foreign policy and was the main driving force that led to the win-win game of Vienna in July 2015, the main result of which was clinching of the Iran deal on the basis of choice of strategic necessity and according to the ideas of Iran's Supreme Leader.

The Iran deal paved the way for a fundamental change in the approach taken by such important international organizations as the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to interaction and confrontation with Iran. The Security Council Resolution 2231 also cleared the path for gradual removal of Iran's nuclear issue from the Council’s agenda. This issue has been also welcomed by such important international organizations as the UN, NATO, IAEA, OPEC, and NAM. As a result of fundamental changes in Iran's relations with UNSC, Iran's relations with the European Union (EU) have also moved toward gradual removal of sanctions, which were imposed on Iran by EU on July 26, 2010. Following these developments, it has become possible for the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to pay official visits to Italy and France after about one decade of official challenges between Europe and Iran.

Iran's relations with big powers in the field of foreign policy have also undergone major developments influenced by the issue of insecurity in 2015. Relative propinquity between proclaimed views of Iran and the United States on issues of mutual difference, despite lack of a basic change in Iran's foreign policy approach to the United States, has been among these developments. Iran's relations with Russia with regard to the situation in Syria have also moved toward practical convergence with inter-Syrian viewpoints that are at the same time against Daesh and extremism. The two countries’ relations received a further boost through Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent visit to Iran in December 2015 to take part in the summit meeting of the member states of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF). Relations with China have been continuously on the rise, though without much hue and cry. Iran and the UK have also resumed their relations through reopening of their previously closed embassies.

With regard to Iran's relations with the Persian Gulf littoral Arab states, the tragedy of Mina and solutions to Syria crisis have been among the most important areas of difference in relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Severance of diplomatic ties between Iran and Bahrain and Iran's mediatory role in Yemen’s developments were important issues related to this region in 2015. During this year, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates moved in the direction of more hostility with Iran by getting in line with Saudi Arabia’s anti-Iran measures regarding Daesh, Yemen, Operation Decisive Storm, and proxy wars. At the same time, Iran's strategic relations with Lebanese Hezbollah movement and the axis of resistance have continued. With regard to other Arab countries, the differences between approaches taken by Iran and some of its Arab neighbors to global crisis, including those in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Libya have given rise to challenges and controversies. With regard to Turkey, differences between the two countries’ viewpoints are notable when it comes to such issues as the fight against Daesh, the crisis of immigrants in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), the fight on terror, as well as management and distribution of regional roles.

No major challenge has been observed regarding Iran's relations with Afghanistan, Pakistan and India in 2015. As for Iran's relations with countries in Central Asia, Caucasus, and the Caspian Sea region in 2015, regular cooperation has went on and collaboration has been ongoing within framework of such regional organizations as the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

With regard to such important global crises as those in Ukraine, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Palestine and Bahrain, the foreign policy apparatus of Iran, as one of the most important global actors, has taken its own specific and special approach to these crises. A development of special importance was related to the crisis in Syria when big powers invited Iran in November 2015 to take part in Syria talks for the first time. The invitation was considered as a serious step toward recognition of Iran's practical standing and influence in the area of foreign policy, which led to Iran's repeated participation in these talks.

The year 2015, has been a year for relative peace and practical changes in Iran's foreign policy in the light of the emerging developments in the rising international and regional order. The year 2015, was a year for production and creation of sustainable security for Iran's foreign policy. Iran's foreign policy trends were being redesigned and regenerated in 2015 to facilitate a new and serious adaptation to developments in Iran's periphery and the world. The year 2015 was also a year when global crises became more acute while they were managed in favor of Iran's national interests by taking advantage of diplomatic means to affect the political trend of the world. Last but not least, the year 2015 was a year for the world to return to Iran option and was a high time for Iran's diplomacy to play its effective historical role in the management of the emerging global and regional order.

Key Words: Iran, Foreign Policy, 2015, Operational Productivity, Domestic Policy, International and Regional Interactions, Khoshandam

More By Behzad Khoshandam:

*Strategic Analysis of 2015 Yemen Crisis: Global Proxy Wars vs. Regional Balance of Power: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Strategic-Analysis-of-2015-Yemen-Crisis-Global-Proxy-Wars-vs-Regional-Balance-of-Power.htm

*Consequences of Paris Terrorist Attacks for Middle East and Iran: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Consequences-of-Paris-Terrorist-Attacks-for-Middle-East-and-Iran.htm

*Solutions for Syria Crisis at the End of 2015: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Solutions-for-Syria-Crisis-at-the-End-of-2015.htm

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