January 10th, 2018
Iran’s foreign policy towards the U.S. (part 3)
Iran’s policy in relation to the US was however also subsequently influenced by the United States’ role in the region. First was the orchestrated rise of Iraq’s Arab influence under Saddam Hussein in the region that led to the invasion of Iran and subsequent dual containment policy that involved attempts to weaken the two neighbors to the advantage of the west (Barzegar 51). For instance, following the invasion, Iran’s economy was seriously damaged resulting in a change of policy that necessitated more focus on economic recovery rather than Islamic Puritanism hence lead to improved relations with the West (Rasmussen 3). This shift in focus was lead by Rafsanjani who had succeeded Khomeini as the country’s head following the latter’s death in the invasion. Though Rafsanjani’s economic reforms brought some dissatisfaction with a section of the society; his reign’s end after serving his constitutional limit was marked by a landslide election of a reformist – Khatami (Rasmussen 3). The reformist reign was marked with a mixed policy whereby the reformist supporters in the government promoted Western friendly policies, with traditionalist conservatives curtailing these policies through both internal operations and outright ‘condemnation of the United States and its allies in the national and international media” (Rasmussen 3). Though such opposing factors curtailed the development of strong relations with the west; overall the relation between Iran and the US during the period were ameliorated.
This improved relation was however not to last long. The September 11 attack of the United States and the subsequent war on terror policies proved a catalyst towards weakened relations between the two countries. The attacks lead to the consideration of various countries including Iraq and Iran to be “enemies of global peace and security” (Barzegar 51); and the dangers of Islamic fundamentalism became apparent from the American perspective (Rasmussen 3). With the toppling of the Iraq regime; anti-terror policies of the US were inclined towards Iran and specifically its nuclear “power” projects (Barzegar 51). This lead to an increased presence of the US in the region and with the US labeling of Iran as an enemy; the latter’s foreign policy was bound to change due to such increased presence to achieve self preservation (Barzegar 52).
Iran’s Foreign Policy in the Modern Era
The change in foreign policy has mainly been evident with the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as the country’s president in 2005. Following the election the country’s policies have largely been controlled by conservative hard-liners (Rasmussen 3). In the early days of the new president’s reign, the policy changed to what was popularly referred to as “Look to the East Policy” (Saghafi-Ameri 1). Such was characterized by increased emphasis of establishing closer ties with countries in the ‘East’ at the expense of mending relations with the West (Saghafi-Ameri 3). This could be attributed to the increasing importance that such countries were wielding as economic powerhouses which could provide alternatives to Iran with its increasing acrimony with the Western economies (Saghafi-Ameri 3).