Dr. Muhammad Akram Zaheer in his article published in Pakistan Today on Monday said the president of the Islamic Republic of Iran preferred the East instead of the West to make his first foreign visit.
He participated in the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), also known as the Eurasian political, economic, and security alliance, and skipped the United Nations meeting.
The visit also was substantive for Iran because it was to be a permanent member of the SCO. Tehran believes that Asian powers are rising and they may disservice to the US influence in the region and maybe on the globe.
The article added China and Russia have no common interests with the USA to control Iran and suppress its economy. On the contrary, they may be willing to accept Iran in order to develop their interests in the Middle East and in the Persian Gulf.
President Raisi’s visit to Tajikistan to participate in the SCO summit was not symbolic but was very substantive. He expressed his future aim in the conference to expand political, economic, and cultural ties with countries across the region to protect Iran from unilateral sanctions.
His speech predominantly emphasized his main stated foreign policy goal. He stated, “The world has entered a new era, hegemony and unilateralism is failing. The international balance is moving toward multilateralism and redistribution of power to the benefit of independent countries.”
He talked, “Sanctions or economic terrorism as major hurdles for regional progress”, and called on the SCO member states to develop structures and mechanisms to fight against the sanctions as a group.
Mr. Raisi viewed diplomacy as the only tool to secure national interest and this will be effective when all the major powers abide by it. “Unilateral sanctions are not against only one country but it has become evident in recent years, sanctions have targeted more independent countries, especially members of the organization.”
He further said, “Iran’s geopolitical position, population, energy supplies, transport potential, workforce, and culture can provide “meaningful momentum” to major regional master plans, including China’s Belt and Road Initiative and Eurasian Economic Union”.
The article added President Raisi is trying to recover all the strips of the JCPOA deal and nuclear program broken by President Donald Trump. At the time, when indications of negotiation are growing from both sides, China may play an important role in facilitating and supporting negotiation between Tehran and Washington.
Iran has expressed its desire to join CPEC, a mega-project of China and Pakistan for regional connectivity. To be a permanent member of SCO Iran has a large potential to become a beneficiary of the CPEC.
The entry of Iran into the SCO may enhance its cooperative relationship with member states China, Russia, Pakistan, India, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan. This move can neutralize Western countries to isolate Iran and also can strengthen Iran’s position in West Asia.
It said Iran thinks that JCPOA was not about the legitimacy of Iran’s nuclear program; it was only for the containment of Iran and also was a try to limit Iran’s power and influence in the Middle East, particularly in the Persian Gulf.
Iran optimizes that China and Russia might support it during the nuclear talks. The membership of SCO follows the way to the East.
On the other hand, China and Iran have also signed a 25-year agreement on a $400 billion investment, including security ties. Iran would like to join the Belt and Road Initiative and wants to attract Chinese investment in other mega projects.
Tehran believes that Chinese investment may turn Iran’s geopolitical potential into reality. The geography of Iran makes it a bridge between Asia and Europe.
The joining with the world’s largest regional organization can protect Iran from isolation and US sanctions. Then Iran may be able to play a significant role in the economic activities and security of the region and beyond the region.
The article further states Russia also has agreed to expand its mutual cooperation with Iran. Russia can sell more sophisticated arms to Iran. As a member of the SCO, Iran may extend its defensive perimeters, military maneuvers, and security cooperation with Russia.
It is worth mentioning that the Foreign Minister of Pakistan met with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian in Tehran in August, as the first high-ranking official of a foreign country, after his appointment as the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the 13th government.
Shah Mahmood Qureshi also traveled to Tehran in October to attend the Second Meeting of Foreign Ministers of Afghanistan’s Neighboring Countries hosted by Iran.
During his recent visits to Tajikistan and Turkmenistan to attend the Shanghai and ECO summits, President Raisi also met with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and Pakistani President Arif Alvi, respectively.
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