Iran and Concert of Powers

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Behzad Khoshandam
PhD Student in International Relations

Various concerts of big powers have been regulating international relations throughout the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. The concert included Russia, Great Britain, Austria, Prussia, and France during the 19th century.

In the 21st century, the concert of big powers which regulates international interactions includes Russia, the United States, France, China, UK, Germany and Japan.

Historically speaking, most decisions made by and interactions among those power concerts through the past three centuries have negatively affected Iran’s national interests.

During the 19th century, Iran and its national interests were victim to the concert’s “Great Game.” The result of such interactions during the 20th century was two-time occupation of Iran with the subsequent breach of its sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and the right of self-determination.

Interactions among members of the power concert, which are also permanent members of the Security Council, in the 21st century has been mostly at odds with the national and strategic interests of Iranians.

When analyzing the behavior of concert of powers in the past three centuries, special attention should be paid to “rivalry” and “interaction” among big powers as opposed to Iran.

Rivalries among power concert members in the 21st century has prevented a strategic alliance to be established between either of them and Iran, as a major regional power, and has prompted them to make collective efforts to take strategic advantage of Iran.

“Interaction and cooperation” among major members of the power concert has led to adoption of a common policy of threat, sanctions as well as containment and engagement within framework of regional and international interactions. That policy has aimed to curtail Iran’s political and economic ambitions at international level under command and control of the United States.

Iran’s nuclear program has been the latest and the most recent leverage used by the concert of powers to restrict the country’s achievement of its national interests. This issue has had great impact on Iran’s national interests and has led to adoption of the Security Council Resolutions 1696, 1737, 1747, 1803, 1835, and 1929 against its national interests.

While the Arab Spring has had great implications for the power structure in the Middle East at the beginning of 2011, the main question is what will be the possible reaction of the concert of powers to soaring influence of Iran at international level?

Perhaps, the answer to the above question is not very difficult. That reaction will be based on the background of Iran’s influence and current approaches to Iran’s increasing clout in the region and will be a function of Iran-US relations as well as regional balance of power in the Middle East. Therefore, they will try to put more pressure on Iran in relation to its nuclear program, situation of human rights, and Tehran’s security approach to neighboring countries.

While Iran’s relations with the United States are at their worst within the new context, one may predict by relying on the ongoing trends that Iran’s relations with the concert of powers will be also at their worst compared to what they have been in the past few decades.

Iran’s relations with the concert of powers is one of the most important items on the agenda of international politics. The relationship between that concert and such countries as Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, and Libya has not produced positive experiences in terms of protecting international peace and security.

From an analytical viewpoint, however, it is a serious consideration that Iran’s relations with concert of powers on the basis of its own resistance-based model can be regarded an exception in international interactions. The reason is domination of democratization trend and institutionalization of bureaucratic institutions in the country.

Possible failure of the concert of powers in the face of Iran’s foreign policy goals will most probably prove the theory that there has been an exception to the result of power concert’s confrontation with a developing nation-state during the past three centuries.