Two Irans in two regions? The Eurasia and the Middle East

First Name: 
Last Name: 
G Dizboni
Institutional Affiliation : 
Royal College of Canada
Academic Bio: 
Dr. Ali Dizboni has completed an M.A. in Tehran in Islamic Studies and Political science (1991). He obtained his second M.A. (1997) and Ph.D. (2000) degrees from the Université de Montréal in the fields of Political Science and International Relations, defending a PhD thesis on Islam and War. Currently, he is an Assistant professor at the Department of Politics&Economics at the Royal Military College of Canada, and Associate Researcher at the Université de Montréal, McGill University and Queen’s University. His areas of teaching include Middle East politics, International Relations (theories and institutions), Security Studies, and Canadian foreign policy in the Middle East. His research interests include Comparative Politics (Middle East: nation-building, democratization and foreign policy), and International Relations (globalization: religion and conflict). He has published numerous articles in the fields of Comparative and International Politics. His works include the section on Afghanistan in Encyclopedia of the World Legal Systems (Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, 2002.) and “Une Deuxième révolution ? La réforme iranienne et la révolution du paradigme de l’islam politique”, in Mouvements sociaux et changements institutionnels (PUQ, 2005), ‘Le martyre en Islam’ in Revue Théologiques ( University of Montreal, August 2006), “Education System in Iran” in Encyclopedia of Iran today (2008), “Muslim Discourses in Canada and Quebec” in Australian Religion Studies Review (2008). Presently, Dr. Dizboni works on several research and publication projects, such as the democratization process in Iran; nuclear Proliferation in the Middle East; and Iranian Foreign Policy in Central Asia and Caucasus. He is a frequent commentator for the media on different aspects of Middle East politics and the Canadian Foreign policy.

This paper focuses on the significant differences between the Iranian foreign policy orientation, and behavior towards the Eurasian region (ER) in comparison to the Middle East system (ME). The available research provides single-case studies or a sketchy regionalist approach. My objective is to compare the impact of the structure of international power in the two regions. I argue that in the context of similar factors, such as religion and energy competition, the Iranian pragmatic, accommodative, state-to-state approach in the ER stems from a different regional power structure than that in the ME. The hegemonic position of the US in ME, and the hostility of the Arab states, present serious impediments against the integration of the Shiite Persian state in the ME. ER, on the other hand, provides a greater opportunity for Tehran to exer influence as a major regional player, situated on the crossroads of the Caspian Sea, Central Asia,  South-West Asia, the Persian Gulf, the Caucasus and the Arab world.
I argue that the abandonment of the Neither-East-nor-West orientation of Iran in its dealings with the  ER stems largely from its shared counter-hegemonic policy (i.e. directed against US expansionism in Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia), with the two key players: Russia and China. Iran’s sense of isolation in the Middle East, her sense of insecurity and her active pursuit of nuclear energy,  drive her into accommodating the interests of these two superpowers. This mutual accommodation has been reflected in the Security Council, the Governing board of IAEA, and the Shanghai-5 organization, as well as in Iran’s positive role as a broker in the regional conflicts and as extensive regional economic partner. There are, however, serious challenges ahead in the way of further Iranian integration in the ER; namely the evolution of the Iranian nuclear energy program, the legal status of the Caspian Sea resources (and transit roots), and to much lesser degree the possible resurgence of Pan-Turkic nationalism.   My paper is based on both primary and secondary sources in four languages: Persian, Arabic, English and French.

Academic Discipline : 
International Relations&Political Science
Time Period : 

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