0133 GMT December 09, 2022
Iran's former ambassador to Iraq
When the new Iranian administration took office 10 months ago, some were pessimistic about its foreign policy and predicted that tensions between Iran and its neighbors would rise. However, we now see Tehran experiencing a period of flourishing in its relations with neighboring countries. The changes in relations are quite perceptible and aimed at expanding cooperation. There is a serious desire, both in Iran and its neighbors, to resolve deadlocks and misunderstandings, instances of which are evident in the improvement of ties between Iran and Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Persian Gulf countries. President Raeisi’s trips to Qatar, Oman, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Russia indicate a perceptible change in foreign policy compared to the previous administration. What is more, various high-ranking delegations from Iraq, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, and Kazakhstan have visited Iran, and, in turn, Iranian delegations have traveled to some of these countries.
However, expanding relations requires that Iran and its neighboring countries have the willpower to overcome political and security deadlocks. Following their display of willpower, cooperation in the fields of politics, security, and economy have expanded as well.
Yet, it seems that the main focus of their talks has been the expansion of economic cooperation as Iran has signed many cooperation documents with Qatar, Oman, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and Iraq in the meantime. Moreover, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has reconsidered and improved its relations with Iran. Evidently, the administration of President Raeisi has nicely laid the groundwork for developing relations with Iran’s neighbors.
Meanwhile, some events have unlocked new potentials for Iran including Russia's military operation in Ukraine. What matters is that Iranian executive agencies will be able to realize the newly-unlocked potentials and not miss the opportunities like before. For instance, one such potential, created as a result of improved political relations, capitalizes on the influence that Arab countries currently have over Asian sports organizations and their facilities. By establishing cordial relations with Arab countries, one can take advantage of their influence to lift some existing restrictions.
The groundwork that has been laid by the Iranian administration’s diplomacy and the president’s mobility should also be exploited for economic gains. Economic diplomacy was coincidentally one of the pivots of the incumbent administration’s foreign policy. Unfortunately, the economic diplomacies of the previous administrations were lacking, and we haven’t been able to redirect political and security relations to cover economic issues. Now that the groundwork has been laid, the economic diplomacy of the incumbent administration should show more effort and mobility. Additionally, the structures of the country’s executive agencies should be coordinated with the economic diplomacy. We must not be satisfied with the growth in our non-oil exports over the past several months. In the current situation, with the US sanctions in place, I believe our annual export capacity is about $110 billion and we should aim for that.
The incumbent administration has the golden opportunity to coordinate various Iranian institutions, thereby carrying out its policies authoritatively and securing more benefits for the people. Hopefully, the capacities that have been built by the administration will produce more wealth for the country.