Foreign Minister-Designate Hossein Amir-Abdollahian explains his programs to Iranian lawmakers. (Icana)

By Camelia Entekhabifard

October 9, 2021

In the new Iranian administration, under President Ebrahim Raisi, it seems that the foreign ministry is given priority over other bodies of the regime while it is working in parallel with the IRGC.

The travels of Hossein Amirabdollahian, the new foreign minister, and the brazen positions he has taken on the region support this hypothesis. Praising IRGC’s Quds Force, Amirabdollahian says it consists of soldiers beyond borders who help bring regional and global security and peace. The new top diplomat in Tehran confronted the US with a demand for restitution of 10 billion US dollars of Iran’s frozen assets as a pre-condition for returning to talks. He says he is in no hurry to resume the talks and on Friday said that in Lebanon “our conditions must be realized.”

The Iranian foreign ministry now says that it’s not prioritizing the revival of JCPOA. Instead, it is focusing its foreign policy on the region.

What strengthened the Islamic Republic’s quest for grandstanding in the region and for ignoring the demands of the West and the US was Biden’s Afghanistan policy.

Biden’s irresponsible behavior towards a country with which it had a strategic security pact, colluding with the enemies of Afghan people and giving up the country to most dangerous of terrorists and ignoring extensive violations of human rights sent a clear message to Iran, along with all other countries in the region: “US can’t be trusted.”

The fact is that, for the current American administration, and in the long-term strategy of the US, the Middle East and its crises are not as important as they once were. Any country could simply become the next victim.

With such an approach, the enemies of the US have found the courage to act and her friends have lost hope.

When we look at the world events, it becomes clear that the US has lost its status. New coalitions are being formed and rogue powers are finding space to act up.

Ignoring the West, the Islamic Republic is advancing its nuclear program, increasing its stockpile of enriched uranium and obviously violating the rights of its citizens. Iran is going toward nuclearization while illegal trade and black market in oil is helping to provide the country’s basic needs. North Korea has restarted its missile tests. Chinese jets have repeatedly encroached on Taiwanese airspace.

Beijing says it is in no hurry to invade the island it considers a breakaway province but it doesn’t rule it out either.

Europeans, strategic partners of the US, want to rethink their strategic plans with Washington. The US behavior has made its enemies either ignore it or act against it and its friends losing their trust in the superpower.

This is why the Iranian regime, despite the opposition of Lebanon’s sovereign government, happily sends fuel tankers to Hezbollah and speaks of sending more help and expanding its presence.

Just as Amirabdollahian expresses satisfaction with talks with Saudis and sees progress there, the IRGC’s Quds Force backs the Houthi missiles which repeatedly target Saudi territory.

Not only the US left the Afghan people and army to themselves as they battled internationally recognized terrorists and medieval fighters; it is also doing nothing to solve the crisis in Yemen.

US’s stepping out of international crises has led to much wonder. But it also shows that the US no longer has the global stature it once did. It can no longer cause intimidation, bring about order or reduce tensions with mere words.

Iran has not returned to the negotiation table on its nuclear program. When State Department officials are asked what consequences will Iran face for its delay in coming back to talks, they have no firm response that shows US is serious in its demands from Tehran.

In such conditions, the most natural and smartest action for countries of the region will be dialogue aimed at solving problems with the understanding that it is them who have to live next to each other.

If Saudi Arabia is talking to Iran today, it is because it aims to solve the Yemeni crisis by establishing dialogue with the main backers of Houthi militias. For the Iranian regime, talking to Saudis opens the gates to relations with other Arab countries in the region and paves the way to economic prosperity.

Among the reasons the Iranian nuclear deal with the West failed was lack of support by the Arab countries in the region.

Arabs were ignored because then US President Barack Obama had a challenging attitude toward them. The diplomacy of Rouhani-Zarif, smog and self-satisfied about the high chances of full restoration of ties with the US, believed that it had no need for the countries of the region. That’s why it didn’t solve its problems with them.

Zarif had promised better ties with Arabs but this never happened. After the JCPOA was inked in 2015, Tehran realized that, without regional help, the West could not easily invest in Iran.

Even while JCPOA was still alive and considered a great achievement, the lack of political and security stability prevented large banks and investors from going to Iran. It didn’t help that the rich countries of the region also discouraged grand foreign investors with whom they had been doing business for years.

Bad relations with neighbors means that Iran lost even the small avenues it had to circumvent the sanctions.

Trump left the JCPOA in 2018 but US’s Western allies criticized him and remained in the deal. But they also failed to enter serious financial or trade ties with Iran. Utilizing different excuses, they refused to abide by their commitments.

The failure of the 2015 deal thus taught the Islamic Republic that good relations with neighbors was more important than agreements with the West or the US.

If Iran is optimistic about JCPOA’s restoration, the Iranian regime is sure that the support of the regional countries will have an important role in the deal’s success and in Iran’s economic success.

With such an approach, Iran-Saudi talks could be important for both sides.

Asharq Al-Awsat

About Track Persia

Track Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.