Iran and the foreign policy scene: stable trends and changing tactics.







Amjad Ismail Agha



It seemed remarkable that Ibrahim Raisi’s victory in the Iranian presidential elections cast a shadow over the course of regional and international interactions, as well as in terms of Iran’s external interactions, with regard to the keenness of those powers, such as Iran, to send messages according to which the ceiling of moves, positions and scenarios, with regard to regional and international contentious files, was determined. The first message came from Ibrahim Raisi, when he indicated on June 21 that there will be no negotiations on the missile file and the regional role, which was followed by the announcement of the United States of America that it would not engage in negotiations for the sake of negotiation only, and that time was running out without reaching a conclusion. A new deal or deal.

The American message came within the military framework, in order to confirm the American seriousness in protecting its interests and renewing the equation of deterrence of Iran. In this context, the American message was translated through the military strikes, which it directed at Iranian-backed factions, on both sides of the Iraqi-Syrian border, in parallel with Iran’s announcement that it did not take a position regarding renewing the agreement it had concluded with the International Atomic Energy Agency, which allows the latter to Continuation of some tasks related to the inspection of Iranian nuclear activities, which ended on June 24.

The previous developments, and the successive American and Iranian messages, in their entirety, raise many questions about the limits of a possible change in Iranian foreign policy during a major era, and the trends of relations between Iran and international powers in particular during the next four years.

In the depth of Iranian foreign policy, there is a link with the general trends of Iran, meaning, the rules and constants of this policy that were followed during the era of President Hassan Rouhani, will continue to exist during the era of President Ibrahim Raisi, especially with regard to relations with the United States of America, Western countries in general and Israel, As this vital file is being decided upon by the sovereign security institutions in Iran, before the President of the Republic has a prominent role in determining directions and mechanisms for dealing with it.

But this “not changing the rules” does not mean that Iran’s foreign relations during the new president’s era will not witness changes. Observers believe that Iran’s foreign policies may be characterized by increasing toughness towards America, with tactical measures that contribute to this, in order to achieve the goals raised by the current. The governor in Iran, which is centered on “the great unity of all revolutionary forces and the formation of a government of revolutionaries,” according to Mohsen Rezaei, the Secretary-General of the Expediency Council.

However, some observers do not rule out that Iranian relations with some countries in the region will witness noticeable changes, especially if a new deal is reached in Vienna, and most of the US sanctions imposed on Iran are lifted, which means that Iran will inevitably tend to strengthen its bilateral relations. With regional countries, especially with regard to the economic aspect, which will be among the priorities of President Ibrahim Raisi.

Ibrahim Raisi, during his candidacy for the presidency, confirmed that he would return to the nuclear agreement, which was approved by the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, but with the need for other countries to abide by it. Raisi announced, in his first press conference, his support for the negotiations currently taking place in Vienna, but this expected engagement Before Raisi’s government, it will not follow the same path as Hassan Rouhani’s moderate government, especially since Raisi’s government is expected to manage the nuclear negotiations through an equation of “less concessions and more gains”.

Among the above, it is worth noting a key statement, in which he said that “our government’s foreign policy will not start with the nuclear agreement and will not end with it,” adding that “any negotiation that guarantees national interests will certainly be supported,” referring to the need for the nuclear agreement to lead to achieve economic benefits for Iran.

Ibrahim Raisi opposes putting his country’s ballistic missile file on the negotiating table. Prior to that, during an interview with the Lebanese Al-Manar TV channel, in early December 2021, Raisi had confirmed his refusal to negotiate on the issue of his country’s military involvement in the region, saying that “the most important thing is The defensive and missile power is the regional power of Iran.” Rather, he added, “No equation will be formed today in the region without the appropriate viewpoint and opinion of the Islamic Republic.”

Here, it cannot be ruled out that the unclear Iranian response to renewing the agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency has a direct link to what was said by Raisi in the recent period, in addition to the fact that it cannot be ruled out that any possible response by the pro-Iranian factions in Iraq is linked to it. And Syria, on the recent US military strikes against Tehran’s calculations in the post-election phase of Raisi as President of the Republic, in parallel with the continuation of the Vienna negotiations between Iran and the “4+1” group with indirect American participation.

Although reaching a possible deal is still a possibility, given the two parties’ desire to continue working with the nuclear agreement, this may not impose positive repercussions on relations between Iran and Western countries, especially the United States of America, as tension is expected to continue to be a major theme of interactions between Iran and Western countries. The two parties during the next stage, due to many considerations, the first of which is that, in contrast to the moderates, Raisi does not show much confidence in the possibility of improving relations with Washington and the West in general, which is the general trend adopted by the Islamic Republic, and which the Supreme Leader of the Republic constantly expresses. In previous statements, Raisi described the United States of America as having “always had plans regarding Iran,” adding that “any administration that took over there followed this policy.” Accordingly, Raisi is likely to adopt an approach similar to the approach of former President Ahmadinejad’s government toward the United States of America. Western countries in general.

In the end, it can be said that tension will remain a major feature of Iranian foreign relations, in the era of the new president, not only as a result of his hard-line right-wing tendencies, but also because any possible course of the ongoing negotiations in Vienna will be directly reflected on Iran’s interactions with the outside, especially as it will not advance Concessions at the same time on issues that are no less important than the nuclear program, especially the ballistic missile program and the regional role.


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