By Behzad Khoshandam
Ph.D. in International Relations & Expert on International Issues
Image Attribute: Tehran Skyline, Milad Tower, and Alborz Mountains, Iran (10059004754). / Source: Wikimedia Commons
During 2016, international organizations were a maneuvering room for part of the important international give and take related to Iran’s national interests. Relations between Iran and international organizations in 2016 can be assessed on the basis of the mutual game between a regionally influential actor and an international actor of the third millennium on the basis of respect for rules of the game.
The majority of influential international organizations were unanimous about the need to have more extensive interactions with Iran in 2016 on the basis of the globalization logic. Positions and approaches adopted by such international institutions as the United Nations, the G7, the G20, as well as such Euro-Atlantic-based organizations such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union toward Iran in 2016 can be mentioned as good examples in this regard. Other world bodies such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), the Eurasian Economic Union, and/or the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) also took good steps during 2016 in order to boost mutual cooperation with Iran within the framework of strategic and security arrangements.
During 2016, an Iran, which believes in non-alignment with big powers, was driven by geopolitical and historical realities, necessities and potentialities toward simultaneous cooperation with Western and Eastern organizations for the management of global crises. Iran’s concurrent cooperation with the SCO, the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), the ECO, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the NAM, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2016 had its roots in this logic.
The year 2016 saw the end of Iran’s rotational chairmanship of the NAM and marked the beginning of a new era of OPEC’s presence in the international arena on the basis of Iran’s constructive role. The year 2016 was also a time for more proximity among approaches taken by Iran, the UN, and the EU. Only in a few instances, some institutions dominated by the Arab countries, such as the Gulf Cooperation Council [GCC], or the Arab League (AL) took measures and embarked on rhetoric, which took them even farther from Iran and Iranian solutions in 2016.
Following adoption of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231 in 2015, mutual attitudes of Iran and the UN and UN-affiliated bodies as well as the global paradigm surrounding Iran moved toward normalization in 2016. In the year 2016, a remarkable number of officials from the UN and its affiliated organs, especially UN secretary general’s special envoys in the region, did their best to take advantage of Iran’s potentialities in the management of global affairs. Iran’s participation in UN-sponsored meetings on Syria from Lausanne to regional meetings, as well as Tehran's participation in meetings and the decision-making process within the Security Council, which meant to put an end to Syria crisis, could be construed along the same line.
Such important Euro-Atlantic institutions as NATO, the G7, the G20, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the EU and even the UN have been taking steps during past decades to find security partners in West Asia region. Among measures taken by these institutions in past decades, one can point to efforts made to boost cooperation with the member states of GCC, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey, Libya and other Arab nations. In the time interval between 2003 and 2015, the gravitational center of such moves was an effort made to restrict Iran’s role at regional and international levels. Those institutions, however, moved to shift their orientation toward cooperation with Iran in 2016, which foretold a possible major change in this regard. This cooperation, which started in 2015 and sought to encourage Iran’s real and step by step cooperation in the management of various issues in the restive region of West Asia, led to the strengthening of information and academic exchanges and promises effective guarantee of sustainable security in the Euro-Atlantic area.
One of the most important positions adopted by Euro-Atlantic institutions in 2016 was NATO’s hostile positions and actions on Iran, as opposed to cooperative positions taken by the European Union. One instance was the NATO summit in Warsaw in July 2016. The most important goal pursued in NATO’s Warsaw summit in 2016 was mounting pressure on Russia on the basis of the logic that requires adaptation to international crises and stresses the necessity of NATO’s inhibitory presence in Eastern Europe through the deployment of all kinds of military equipment and defensive systems. Making an effort to force Russia to retreat in the face of West’s security arrangements in Europe and Eurasia by taking advantage of offensive tools was another goal of the NATO summit. The aggressive military drills known as the Anakonda 2016, which were staged by NATO, constituted practical materialization of this idea. During the Warsaw summit, a huge amount of consultations were conducted among various parties to the Euro-Atlantic front (the EU, NATO, the United States…) with regard to Russia and Eastern European countries, and purposive talks also took place among participants on the management of global crises such as those in Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq, Daesh and so forth. This measure by NATO will probably facilitate the expansion of its activities in the east and south, including to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), beyond 2016, which would be in line with decisions adopted by NATO members during the Warsaw summit of 2016. The final statement of the NATO summit in Warsaw in 2016 contained hostile remarks with regard to Iran’s defense program, which were clearly and smartly criticized by Iran’s diplomatic apparatus.
During 2016, the UK’s move toward Brexit and such important crises as extremism, terrorism, and the refugee crisis served as trigger points, which started a honeymoon in Iran’s relations with the EU. During 2016, the EU reached the necessary understanding that such crises cannot be resolved through political, financial or diplomatic bribery, but could only be resolved through confidence building and multilateral security cooperation with political actors in the Middle East. Therefore, Iran, the EU, NATO and many other international actors, organizations and institutions reached the conclusion during 2016 that they have a common interest in the resolution of global crises, which were going on in 2016.
The year 2016 was a year for intensification of concerns as well as common conceptual and operational attitudes between Iran and the majority of international organizations and institutions. The year 2016 was a year in which the concept of cooperation and the necessity of understanding the common interests that existed between Iran and international organizations and institutions, moved one step forward. In the year 2016, although what Iran expected from international organizations was not met to a maximum degree due to a variety of reasons, Iran’s actions within such international organizations had determining effects on a host of emerging global trends.
The article was originally published at IranReview.org on January 8, 2017. Republished at IndraStra with permission. All rights reserved by the Iran Review.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of IndraStra Global.