Explanation of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Regionalism Approaches with emphasizing on the Caucasia and Central Asia

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Professor of Political Geography, Faculty of Geography, University of Tehran

2 Assistant Professor of Political Geography, University of Tehran

3 PhD student in Political Geography, Faculty of Geography, University of Tehran


Extended Abstract
1. Introduction
Iran’s regionalism policy and strategies has different versions during the times. During most of the 20th century, the two successor states of the Ottoman and Persian Empires played only a limited role in Middle Eastern politics. Iran did have foreign policy ambitions, and his impact on the Middle East was felt mostly in the region’s east and in its petro-politics. Iran’s ability to project power and influence in its immediate environment and beyond was constrained by Soviet pressure and domestic problems. Turkey, for its part, was ruled by a secular elite oriented toward Europe. As such, during most of the latter half of the 20th century, the regional politics of the Middle East were shaped mostly by the dynamics of inter-Arab relations and by the Arab-Israeli conflict. Iran’s quest for regional hegemony after 1979 and Turkey’s shift away from Europe to its neighborhood transformed the region. The Middle East was now joined by two, large, powerful Muslim states. One important illustration of the new regional reality is the Astana Forum that since 2017 has been the major arena of the efforts to resolve the Syrian crisis. Not a single Arab state is a participant in that forum. Of the two new actors, Iran is the more ambitious and more active. It is driven by religious zeal; the geopolitical ambitions of a successor state to a great imperial past; and the anxieties of a regime worried by the enmity of the United States and such regional enemies as Israel, Saudi Arabia and, until 2003, Iraq. The Iranian leadership may well see some of its actions as defensive, but they serve in fact to exacerbate the anxieties of its rivals, thus creating a vicious cycle of defensive-offensive action and reaction.
2. Methodology
Methodology of this study is descriptive- analytical and required information has been collected through library research. The information gathered from sources such as books, magazines, online articles, etc.
3. Result and Discussion
As it marks the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, Iran finds itself as a major actor in a transformed Middle Eastern system shaped to a considerable extent by its own actions. Forty years after its birth, the Islamic Republic is still fueled by a blend of religious zeal, geopolitical ambitions, and vested interest. The question remains open as to when—as has been the case with other great revolutions—a phase of consolidation and moderation will set in. Revolutions are often defined as mass-based movements that violently, over a relatively short span of time, bring down a regime and often lead to a restructuring of the polity and the transformation of the class structure of a society. As a result, it is commonly assumed that the country's foreign policy will also undergo fundamental changes. Iran has made many mistakes in its long diplomatic history. In the post-revolutionary period, and particularly in the early years of the Islamic revolution, Iran’s foreign policy was often characterized by provocation, agitation and subversion. Yet, while the dominant understanding of revolution is heavily intertwined with change, there has been a good deal of continuity in regional policy when it comes to post-revolutionary Iran. To trace this continuity, it is important to understand the ways in which Iran’s regional policies are viewed by elites in the country. The present paper, actually argues that both domestic and regional changes have combined to make of Iran an exceptional case study of how an Islamic revolutionary state might set about managing the post-cold war order. Accordingly, in the 1990s it was the new geopolitical realities which came to dominate the agenda of the Islamic republic, bringing Iran closer to its Eurasian hinterland (Central Asia and Cuacasia). In the new millennium, however, geopolitical complexities which has emerged as the single most significant source of threat to Iran, as well as to the West's regional interests. Attacks on both the Shi’a communities and the West have made tacit, unacknowledged allies of Iran and the West in containing its impact on the status quo in the Middle East. This has been the case, remarkably, despite the ongoing rift between Iran and the United States. The chapter traces Iran's responses to this dynamic environment and analyzes its impact on Iran's elites, outlook, and policies.
4. Conclusion
Regionalism and understanding its dimensions and foundations is one of the necessities of achieving an efficient and national interest-based foreign policy. In the geopolitical codes of the First Powers, regionalism is defined as an active strategy and a basis for increasing interaction with the world system. The history of Iranian foreign policy shows that regionalism and its patterns have not been on the agenda of designers and decision makers of Iran's political apparatus before and after Islam. Historically, regionalism has been overlooked as an approach and policy in the various governments ruling Iran. The neglect of geographical approaches and policies is to the extent that even the Achaemenes and Sassanid governments did not feel the need to interact and regionalize with their subordinate countries. However, to achieve its geopolitical goals and interests, the Islamic Republic of Iran has to develop and apply regionalism principles and approaches. In the current situation, the Islamic Republic's insistence on a purely ideological approach to its foreign relations has, to a certain extent, neglected the peripheral realities and depleted its geographical and geopolitical capacities. The present study, using a descriptive-analytical approach and based on a complementary approach, explores the principles and approaches for activating the regionalism approach in the foreign policy structure of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the Caucasus and Central Asia. The results show that among the regionalization approaches, there are three cultural complementarity, civilization complementarity and geo-economic complementarity including the most important approaches and patterns of regionalization of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the Caucasus and the Central Asia.


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Volume 52, Issue 4
January 2020
Pages 1511-1528
  • Receive Date: 22 December 2019
  • Revise Date: 15 June 2020
  • Accept Date: 15 June 2020
  • First Publish Date: 21 December 2020