The Paradox of Iranian Foreign Policy
First, A Little History
To truly understand the changes and dynamics of Iran’s foreign policies, it’s crucial to have a grasp on the background of the Iranian people and what influences their decisions. Religious predominance dating back over 2,500 years ago and cultural tradition have shaped a people who are both very independent and also quite reluctant to domination from outside forces. Holding tightly to their historical roots, Iran creates a stronghold of power and a resistance to yield. Aggressive language and counter threats seem to be their tried and true game plan. Iran holds true to their beliefs, and any threat can be perceived more strongly than it may have been intended. This attitude toward foreign relations has created past blemishes on their record, making Iran a country that is intimidating to mediate with.
Fast Forward To Now
While centuries of diplomacy have served Iran well, there is some light showing through at the end of the tunnel. Iran has recently indicated that they possess a more willing, negotiable attitude, particularly when working with the United States. Bonds between Secretary of State John Kerry and Mohammad Javad Zarif have begun to strengthen and grow, and this relationship has certainly affected foreign policy as it moves forward.
Just as recently as a few months ago, what can be called none other than a successful meeting between Kerry and Zarif took place in Tehran. The groundwork for this discussion had been laid last year when Iran agreed to limit its nuclear progress with the promise of the United States lifting international sanctions. Further strengthening this relationship was the mutual agreeance to release American seamen that had wandered into Iran’s territory. While the settlement of this international conflict was handled promptly, critics are still quick to question Iran’s motives.
Extending Their Reach
Thankfully, the new amicable attitude demonstrated by Iran projects much further out than the United States. Dealings with other foreign sovereignties, including Russia and Syria, are flavored with a more hopeful tone. Old habits tend to die hard however, and one can only wonder if Iran’s support for Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian tenure will once again threaten any chance of a compromise. Assad’s regime, and specifically Iran’s acknowledgement of it, is one of the many hot buttons interjecting itself into the current foreign policy web.
Motivation For A New Way
President Obama is exercising every chance he can to encourage young Iranians to promote a feeling of peace and cooperation when discussing foreign relations. Yet not too long ago, progress threatened to crumble when Iran disregarded a U.N. resolution and held ballistic missile testing. It is almost as if Iran is testing the waters of their new foreign relations; their actions suggest that they are assessing their limits daily. While the progress Iran has shown illuminates a shift in mindset toward a more positive direction, only time can tell if their robust history and strong ties to past feelings will make their way to the surface.