What objectives and whose interests are served by recent changes in the foreign policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran?

(Translated Excerpts from the Editorial of Nameh Mardom, issue no. 1178, published Monday 26 March 2023)

All evidence suggests that the empty slogans and noisy propaganda about swinging towards “new foreign policies” or “turning to the East”, which was supposed to put Iran on the path of important domestic and foreign developments, were finally abandoned last week.  The trip to China by the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, General Shamkhani, and negotiations with his Saudi Arabian counterpart, with the mediation of the Chinese government, and the announcement of the normalisation of diplomatic relations between the two countries as well as his visits to neighbouring countries in the Middle East region, were among the first new measures indicating a change in the foreign policy direction of the Islamic Republic.

It is clear that the current changes in Iran’s foreign policy owe to the regime’s desperation and completely bankrupt economic and social policies, especially their [manifest] inability to solve internal crises and problems stemming from the US financial-banking and trade sanctions.  Regarding China’s significant entry into developments pertaining to the Middle East region, it should also be noted that China’s stance and actions are part of its macro political-economic plans in the world arena – which, unlike the militaristic and confrontational policies of the United States, are based on de-escalation and promoting peace and widening normal international trade relations.  From the point of view of the Chinese government, Iran can play an active role in China’s global strategic plans, such as the “One Road, One Belt” programme and feature in the interactions between China and United States for the benefit of China’s grand vision.

Contrary to the regime’s propaganda and the nonsense claims by Khamenei and Raisi about the [current] state of the country, behind closed doors they can no longer ignore the threats of mass protests against the regime nor dismiss the actual realities regarding the country’s devastated economy and the widespread misery in the [Iranian] people’s lives.

The Tudeh Party of Iran has always emphasised the fact that the direction and nature of the foreign policies of every government administration of the Islamist regime over the last three decades [since the late-1980s], despite their ups and downs and some differences in form, generally and ultimately serve the continuity of the reactionary rule of “Political Islam”, the “export of the Islamic Revolution”, and the safekeeping and deployment of the interests of the big capital, whose support the regime depends on.

The final outcome [of the economic policies of the Islamist regime], which has based its model of economic development and growth on the accumulation of private and quasi-private non-productive wealth, is an unproductive, import-based, and single-source-income economy that relies on the sale of crude oil, its derivatives, and the US dollar.  It serves only to generate huge wealth for “high-class cronies”.  The nature and functioning of Iran’s current political economy, which serves those big capitalists connected to the pyramid of power [in Iran], is utterly beyond reform.  Thus, it can be concluded that the foreign policy of the theocratic regime, despite some fluctuations due to global developments and the confrontation of various internal factions, basically serves to “protect the status-quo of the regime” and is a [vital] feature in the nature of this unjust political economy and its operation.

The Tudeh Party of Iran has always emphasised that owing to the fact our country is facing such deep and widespread economic malaise compounded by international isolation, the US has both the opportunity and capability of interfering in the nuclear negotiations and in the field of foreign policies as well as Iran’s internal key affairs and developments.

As a result of the ever-widening spread of the dangerous tensions between the world’s military powers, which the imperialist powers (particularly the US) are fuelling, the world situation is moving in an increasingly dangerous and worrying direction.  An analysis of the current state of the Iranian theocratic regime and its foreign policy must be carried out without becoming unduly entangled in secondary issues and events, with strict attention given to the importance of defending peace and away from subjective matters – as well as a particular emphasis on the national interests and vital domestic issues in relation to the anti-dictatorship struggle.

We emphasise once more that any over-optimistic, dangerous, and irresponsible analyses of the regime’s foreign policy, with the hope of taking advantage of the escalating tension between the military powers and the war in Ukraine, has nothing to do with a Marxist analysis that is based on the interests of the working class and the lives and fundamental rights of the people of our country and around the world.  The change in international relations and the regime’s 180-degree turn in its foreign policy will not lead to a change in its unpopular nature or unjust political economy.

In the current dangerous world situation, China’s recent foreign policy initiatives with the aim of de-escalating tensions in West Asia or mediating to establish peace between Russia and Ukraine, are seen by our Party as important and valuable moves.  As pointed out in the approved document of the 7th Congress of the Tudeh Party of Iran (June 2022), whilst supporting China’s de-escalation and progressive policies, especially when compared to the inhumane and dangerous militaristic programmes of the US and NATO,  our Party is fully aware that China’s foreign policy (for example in West Asia) comprises of factors that are specifically in place to protect its own political and economic interests [and naturally so], in addition to trying to maintain peace and cooperation.

Therefore, in light of the deliberate expansion of another “Cold War” by world imperialism, it is necessary more than ever to pay attention to Iran’s national interests and the possibilities available to protect these interests.


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