Iranian foreign policy decision-makers and authorities must stay vigilant to the pertinence of achieving economic advantages within national capabilities and restrictions by skillfully navigating the labyrinth of the balance game.
By: Sohrab Enami Alamdari
In analyzing Iran’s geopolitical landscape, it becomes indisputable that the concept of equilibrium and balance remains integral to the country’s foreign and security strategies, an importance born out of Iran’s ascension to strategic prominence during the Second World War. The tumultuous international arena necessitated a concentrated, careful effort toward fostering stability through the strategy of balance.
Balancing is an approach that provides a platform for balancing the interests and domains of influence among the primary players of global politics. Moreover, as a model, it shapes the actions and reactions of nations that hold noteworthy political and strategic standing.
Throughout assorted Iranian governments, endeavors have been undertaken to institute a balance-oriented policy, subscribing to the principle of “Neither East, nor West”. With the advent of Ebrahim Raisi’s presidency, a balanced and smart interaction with global countries has been prioritized in Iran’s declarative and operational foreign policy approach.
Nonetheless, the stances adopted by China and Russia in their joint dialogues with the Persian Gulf states (GCC) evoke a fundamental inquiry: does Iran’s foreign policy possess the elasticity to achieve balanced international relationships? It is puzzling to observe that these two major states, which Iran has emphasized in its Eastern-focused foreign policy, have assumed unfriendly positions in their joint engagements with Persian Gulf’s Arab nations. In November 2022, China signed a joint statement addressing the issue of Iran’s territorial integrity, and recently, Russia endorsed an even graver communique addressing the dispute over the three Iranian islands in the Persian Gulf.
China and Russia, as nations possessing considerable economic and military prowess, recognize that they exist in a world marked by fragility, flux, and chaos. Within such a volatile environment, these powers gravitate toward a diplomatic balance with all nations intending to secure maximum economic gains. This strategic swing toward balancing global and regional ties has consequently become a pivotal aspect of their respective foreign policies.
In recent history, Iran’s eastward directional shift has attracted the crucial alliances of China and Russia on the global stage. Despite this, it appears that Iran’s eastern engagement, although bestowing the nation with political prestige and discursive benefits, has not yielded significant strategic or economic rewards. Instead, it has given rise to grave security threats, especially evident in scenarios indirectly linked to the Ukrainian war. China and Russia’s positioning does not indicate a disregard for Iran’s strategic and geopolitical capabilities; rather, their primary objective is to reap substantial economic benefits in the shortest time span, within the context of bilateral and multilateral relations.
“S&P Global” presents a compelling report showing that China’s oil trade with the ten major oil-producing nations amounted to a staggering $50 billion in 2020. This figure experienced further augmentation in 2021, outstripping its previous year’s performance by 26% with the same countries.
This data invokes a significant question: what strategy best suits a dealmaker paradigm? The unswerving deployment of the strategic balancing tact appears as the paramount choice and tool for safeguarding national interests and averting unfavorable conduct. Iran, with its geopolitical heft, security climate, and historical imperative to secure national interests – spanning strategic/political-security/economic facets – calls for strategic mobility within a framework of equilibrium creation and strategic balance.
Nestled in this age of transition and security tumult, Iranian foreign policy decision-makers and authorities must stay vigilant to the pertinence of achieving economic advantages within national capabilities and restrictions by skillfully navigating the labyrinth of the balance game. Thus, the balance approach’s actualization should be meticulously implemented in all geographic regions, grounded in cost-benefit analysis, and directed towards subverting the zero-sum approach pervading every country.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Iran Nuances.