A Glance at Iran's Foreign Policy after the Revolution: Seyed Majid Tafreshi Khameneh Outlines Iran's Approach to Foreign Policy

Article excerpt

In February 1979, we witnessed one of last century's most important events--the formation of the Islamic Republic of Iran, following a spontaneous, grassroots revolution that had been absolutely unforeseen by the Western and Eastern powers.

Winston Churchill asserted that in our world nothing happens by itself; there must be a plan or programme for it. In light of the effect of Iran's revolution on surrounding regions and its earnest resistance against the hegemonic powers of the world, we may conclude, however, that the origins of the revolution lay in the strong will of the Iran nation and the leadership of Imam Khomeini, and not in the plans of others.

In February 1979 we were in fact witnessing the downfall of 2500 years of monarchy in Iran. The last monarchical dynasty in Iran belonged to the Pahlavis, a regime that was overthrown in 1953 by Dr Mohammad Mossadegh's grassroots movement with the assistance and support of the clergy. However, after an Anglo-American coup (Operation Ajax), the king (shah) returned and, against the will of the nation, ruled for a further 25 years.

US Justice William O. Douglas said in 1953 that even if it seemed that the United States had achieved its goals in overthrowing the Mossadegh government, by interfering in Iran internal affairs it had in fact breached international law and norms. For Iranians and the people of other regional countries, this step was the beginning of uncertainty about the United States and its foreign policy. This was a hugely mistaken US foreign policy approach, which unfortunately has been continuing ever since.

In assessing the foreign policies followed and practiced by the monarchies in Iran, in particular the last two dynasties--the Ghajars and the Pahlavis--it seems sufficient to point out that Iran lost the majority of its territories during their rule, in many cases even without war. Aran, Shirvan, Arministan, Gorjestan, Dagestan, North Ossetia, Chechenia, Ingushetia, Afghanistan, Baluchistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, parts of the Caucasus and Kyrgyzstan, Kurdistan and even recently Bahrain--more than 3.5 million square kilometres in all--have been separated from Iran within the last two centuries. Studies show that this vast dismemberment of a country is unprecedented. The separation of Bahrain from Iran happened as recently as Reza Pahlavi's reign, when Iran was the strategic ally of the United States, the United Kingdom and Israel. No such disastrous events have occurred since the revolution in Iran, in spite of eight years of imposed war and the occupation of some crucial parts of Iran by Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein with the support of 35 countries, including many Western countries and in particular the United States, the United Kingdom and even a few Arab states.


I believe that a government that splits from its people and loses their trust will never have full authority, even though they might enjoy the support of outside powers. Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Bahrain are current examples of countries in which revolutions are rooted in the very depths of the people and nation, against which no power can stand.

Important definition

To define foreign policy, I advance the following criterion: foreign policy is a government's series of thoughts, methods, position-makings and measures to deal with foreign issues and situations, all taking place within the framework of the general goals and policies of that system. Defence against threats from and invasions by other counties, removal of pressures, decrease of dependency, strengthening of the country's dignity, authority and national identity, and the overall increase of the country's influence and role within the international network definitely have special significance.

Iran's foreign policy since the revolution--aimed at reaching the above-mentioned goals--has employed different interactions and dialogues based on different place and time conditions and circumstances, including:

* realistic or compromising-oriented interaction and dialogues

* idealistic or value-oriented dialogue interest-oriented dialogue

* culture-oriented dialogue

* value-oriented and self-esteem dialogue. …