Iranophobia and Balance of Powers

Friday, August 14, 2015

Diako Hosseini
Researcher, Iranian Institute for European and American Studies (Iran- EURICA)

The achievement of the nuclear agreement between Iran and the West will not reduce fears about the emergence of Iran's power and may even increase fears of a powerful and uncontained Iran among its neighboring countries by spreading the idea that the United States has submitted to Iran's will.

At present, the Islamic Republic of Iran is being accused by the West and some regional countries of attempting to establish its regional hegemony, not – as we say in Iran – trying to help the oppressed nations and promote justice. If the fear of the emergence of Iran's regional power is associated with Iranophobia as a general viewpoint among people in other countries, this would pave the way for the enemies of Iran to get the backing of the masses against the Islamic Republic. However, without that association, the governments and their leaders would have great difficulty in convincing their nations about the Iran threat. Studies show that there is an indirect relationship between Iranophobia in the Arab world and the balance of power in the region.

According to findings of a poll conducted by the credible Zogby Research Services, between 2006 and 2008, which coincided with Israel’s invasion against southern Lebanon and the peak of the United States’ war in Iraq, 70-80 percent of Arab nations had a positive viewpoint of Iran. At that juncture, Iran was admired by Arab nations as the axis of resistance against the West. However, as concerns among Arabs about possible aggressions by Israel and the United States diminished, continuation of the past policy by Iran was considered a threat to all Arab countries. According to another poll conducted in 2011, Iran's popularity in the Arab world had fallen to 60-70 percent, while in another poll in 2014, when the crises that threatened the Arab world had subsided in four countries of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, 74-88 percent of respondents expressed negative views when asked about the role of Iran in establishment of regional peace and stability.

According to this survey, when they have to face foreign intervention or Israel’s aggression, Arab countries prefer Iran to accept the responsibility of resistance against them, but as soon as those threats are averted, Iran is perceived as a threatening factor for the Arab world. It is only in two countries of Iraq and Lebanon that most citizens have held positive views toward Iran regardless of temporal conditions. The difficult task that faces Iran is to prove its honesty to Arab nations by convincing them that Tehran is not seeking hegemony over the entire region. From the viewpoint of political leaders, accumulation of power and influence of a single country is per se frightening, unless it is balanced with an equal power elsewhere. Such historical arguments that Iran has never started a war in the past four centuries cannot allay the existing concerns and convince these anxious countries because such arguments do not guarantee that tomorrow will not be an end to four centuries of Iran's abstinence from aggression.

How we can possibly put an end to this situation? In order to do away with Iranophobia, we must follow a clear and purposive media strategy to boost global awareness about Iranian culture, history and traditions. Also, in order to strengthen this media strategy, we must show our neighboring countries in practice that Iran is not planning to devour the Middle East and undermine the independence of other countries in this region. Iranophobia will not be dispelled simply through pictures broadcast by our television networks, and the fear that regional states have of Iran will not be nullified through Iran's aid and kind words alone. The main pivot of our diplomacy should be an effort to prove Iran's obligation to maintain the regional balance of power and recognize other countries’ spheres of influence. Only in this way, our media publicity, which aims to foil Iranophobia, would seem real and honest to other nations.

Key Words: Iran, Iranophobia, Balance of Powers, Nuclear Agreement, Media Strategy, Arab Nations, Middle East, Hosseini

Source: Khabar Online
Translated By: Iran Review.Org

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*Photo Credit: Ali Zewein.Com