Why Iran’s Foreign Policy is so Unclear?

A Review on Security Arrangements in the Persian Gulf

To many observers, Iran’s foreign policy is at best unclear and, at worst, unpredictable. This study by Mahboubeh Sadeghinia offers an in-depth explanation of the complex factors that have shaped Iran’s policy in the Persian Gulf, a stretch of water also referred to as the Arabian Gulf. It examines the incendiary forces, internal and external, which have made this region the so very volatile flashpoint that it is.

Sadeghinia makes a strong case to turn “threats into opportunities”. She argues that if the regional states do not support integration they could, at the very least, recognise their diversity and have a more inclusive cooperative system. In other words, she favours an approach of realpolitik and cooperative security rather than the hegemonic which excludes competitors with different goals and values. Toward this end, she says the pyramid security model could be the solution to the regional tensions because while it recognises geopolitical rivalries, it makes provisions for political and economic concerns of regional and ultra-regional actors. It is founded on the premise of interdependency and attachment. Every state, “like pieces of a puzzle, has a unique and non-ignorable place in the security system”, regardless of size [XXXVI].

Idealistic, maybe, but according to Sadeghinia, the safest way to offset the fears of the smaller states is to focus on socio-political and economic power rather than military power. There must be a holistic approach and vision of the region, not as individual states.

In theory, this pragmatic and collaborative approach outlined in the book seems valid and appealing. However, it does not match with the view expressed by the author in her foreword where she asserts that Iran is “the hegemonic power in the Persian Gulf” (XVI). Hegemonic may be construed as pretentious and exaggerated. Nonetheless, Sadeghinia is right when she says that whatever regime exists in Tehran, Iran has legitimate national and security interests in the region.

A dominant theme that is revisited time and again throughout this book is that despite its size and location, Iran has been, since 1979, treated as an outsider. During the time of the Shah, it was supported equally by the US and Israel. Today, both are threatening it with war. When it was a proxy of the Americans, Iran’s primacy in the region was accepted. This is clearly one of the enduring truths about power politics; small states are valued only to the extent that they serve the interests of great powers.

The Persian Gulf is one of the most important geopolitical regions in the world. It is a sub-system of the Middle East and contains the region’s main oil reserves. Indeed, it contains 55 per cent of the world’s proven oil reserves and 41 per cent of the world’s natural gas reserves. Ninety-five per cent of the Gulf’s oil exports pass through the Straits of Hormuz. Not only is the cost of exploration relatively low here, but access to the global markets from the Gulf is also easy. This strategic location attracts the attention of ultra-regional powers. The region is fought over because the ownership of oil fields and control of transit routes influence the balance of power. Most of Europe’s fuel needs come from the Gulf. Sadeghinia explains that this is why oil has become a matter of national security for the EU, the world’s second largest consumer of the precious fuel after the US.

Read more: http://www.middleeastmonitor.org.uk/media-review/book-review/3527-security-arrangements-in-the-persian-gulf-with-special-reference-to-irans-foreign-policy


Cultural Engineering Under Authoritarian Regimes: Islamization of Universities in Postrevolutionary Iran

The purpose of this article is to analyze the efforts that have been made to Islamize Iranian universities, specifically since the emergence of hardliners in 2005. After the 1979 Iranian Revolution, the Islamic regime relentlessly intensified its efforts to Islamize universities to train a new generation of ideologically driven students. In the three decades following the Revolution, three major periods of university Islamization have been implemented. The Cultural Revolution, which started in 1980, was the first step in the Islamization of Iran’s universities: to cleanse the higher education systems from students and professors who criticized the new established Islamic regime. By increasing the number of students and the development of universities throughout Iran in the Rafasanjai era, the second wave of the Islamization of the university was triggered by Ayatollah Khamenei in 1994. During the reform era, the Islamization of universities slowed because of the many confrontations between the Supreme Leader and the reformist administrations. With the victory of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the 2005 presidential election, the Islamization of universities intensified. While there are a few publications about the Islamization of universities, they mainly focused on the first and second decades following the 1979 Revolution. Focusing on the third period, this article will investigate the different strategies and tactics for the Islamization of universities, as well as reasons for its failures.

Digest of Middle East Studies: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1949-3606.2012.00124.x/abstract

An excerpt from Security Arrangements in the Persian Gulf, Mahboubeh Sadeghinia, Ithaca Press

from SECURITY ARRANGEMENTS IN THE PERSIAN GULF: With Special Reference to Iran’s Foreign Policy, MAHBOUBEH F. SADEGHINIA, Ithaca Press, 2011

The Persian Gulf (PG) is one of the most significant geopolitical regions in the world as well as the main dominant energy source and gateway for global energy. This region is of vital significance to all littoral states as well as the entire world economy and political life. Considering such significance – which has caused the PG to be a worthy rival to outside powers, particularly the West, as well being the most unstable and chaotic of any world region – requires close scrutiny of the important geopolitical elements and security concerns and systems in this region.
Persian Gulf Security Arrangements, With Special Reference to Iran’s Foreign Policy has employed a variety of conceptual and analytical tools to understand the reasons for the failure of security models in the PG and to confront the huge obstacles to a security system for this region. The perceptions of what constitutes a threat to regional security varies among the Arabs, Iranians and the ultra-regional powers, and all accordingly have different solutions to what they perceive as the problem. Nevertheless, regardless of the relevant parties’ differences of opinion, all the consequent issues along with three decades of crises in the PG illustrate how urgent it is for the problem regarding regional security to be resolved.
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Security Arrangements in the Persian Gulf: With Special Reference to Iran’s Foreign Policy

Security Arrangements in the Persian Gulf: With Special Reference to Iran’s Foreign Policy  By Dr Mahboubeh Sadeghinia

Security Arrangements in the Persian Gulf: With Special Reference to Iran’s Foreign Policy By Dr Mahboubeh Sadeghinia

from SECURITY ARRANGEMENTS IN THE PERSIAN GULF: With Special Reference to Iran’s Foreign Policy, MAHBOUBEH F. SADEGHINIA, Ithaca Press, 2011

June 2011

About this book

The strategic and economic characteristics of the Persian Gulf have made it of critical importance to all the states bordering its coastline, as well as the entire world’s economy and political life. Its significant geopolitical situation, in addition to its dominant position as an energy source and gateway for global energy, has caused the Gulf to be a worthy rival to outside powers, particularly those in the West, while also being amongst the most unstable and chaotic of any world regions.

The objective of this book is to understand the reasons for the failure of security models in the Persian Gulf and to provide a new model that addresses the need for a stable and peaceful structure of relationships, provides security for all individual littoral states, and also assures the interests of the external powers.

To this end, the book analyses the various security models adopted in this vitally important geopolitical region since 1962, with special reference to Iran’s foreign policy. Particular reference has been made to Iran because of its geostrategic and geopolitical situation and its role as the hegemonic power in the Persian Gulf. Indeed, regardless of its political regimes, Iran has significant national security concerns and plays a determinant role in the overall peace and security of the region.

About the author

Dr Mahboubeh Sadeghinia is the founder/Director of the Centre for the Study of Energy and Security (CSES). Prior to this she was a Visiting Research Fellow at the School of Government and International Affairs at Durham University. Having worked as an international journalist and also political researcher in Iran and Jordan during 1980–2003, her current research interests are foreign policy, political economy, security and strategic issues in Iran and in the Middle East/Persian Gulf. Her major focus is to studying security issues affected by energy and international relations between the Middle East and the West.

Arash Hejazi’s paper on Book Censorship in Iran, published by LOGOS Journal: ‘You Don’t Deserve to Be Published’

Citation: Hejazi, Arash, ‘You don’t deserve to be published’ Book Censorship in Iran, LOGOS: The Journal of the World Book Community, Volume 22, Number 1, 2011 , pp. 53-62(10), DOI: 10.1163/095796511X562644

‘Read the rest of the article here: ‘You Don’t Deserve to Be Published: Censorship in Iran’

Censorship is as old as human intellect. It has been practised in almost every country at some level throughout history: from 399 BC, when Socrates was forced to drink poison, to the horrors of the Inquisition, and the oficial coining of the concept with the publication of Index Librorum Prohibitorum by the Roman Catholic Church; from the obligation of English publishers to register their books with the Stationers’ Company in the 16th century until the case of D. H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover; and the Nazi book-burning campaign and the absolute offfijicial control of the governments of the USSR, China, and Eastern European countries over published material.
It has always been a highly controversial issue as well, especially since Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) requested the member states of the UN to enforce freedom of speech in their countries. The concept of censorship has been defijined by various authors and organizations, but no agreed defijinition has yet been given; therefore the term covers a wide range of activities which sometimes overlap with other concepts, such as moderation, regulation, sensitivity, and intervention. However, for the purpose of this research, the term censorship only refers to restrictions imposed by an authority or authoritative body on a creative work, which impedes the availability of the original work to its potential audience prior to or after its publication, or forces the creator to modify or omit parts or all of the work against their free will. Therefore,
editorial intervention does not fijit the criteria, as it can be prevented by the free will of the author. The only exception is self-censorship which can be categorized under censorship by fear; one of the most powerful restrictive tools which may have the power to act as an authoritative body, inflicted by conditions outside the author’s control.
The importance of addressing censorship as an issue becomes more evident when considering that, despite the abolition of most of the traditional and historical tools for imposing restrictions on freedom of speech by the coming of information technology and the internet revolution, it is still being practised, and controls a wide range of the mind’s expressions, including books.
Therefore, it seems that raising awareness towards the consequences of censorship has never been more important since the Enlightenment, and the censorship practised in Iran today is a good example…

‘Read the rest of the article in PDF here: ‘You Don’t Deserve to Be Published: Censorship in Iran’

Book Review: The People Reloaded, by Danny Postel and Nader Hashemi

The People Reloaded, The Green Movement and the Struggle for Iran’s Future  by Danny Postel and Nader Hashemi

The People Reloaded, The Green Movement and the Struggle for Iran’s Future by Danny Postel and Nader Hashemi

The People Reloaded, The Green Movement and the Struggle for Iran’s Future

by Danny Postel and Nader Hashemi

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Melville House Publishing (24 Mar 2011)
  • Language English
  • ISBN-13: 978-1935554387
  • Order here

Since June 2009, the Islamic Republic of Iran has seen the most dramatic political upheaval in three decades of rule. What began as a series of mass protests over the official results of a presidential election – engendering the slogan “”Where is My Vote?”” – has grown into something much larger, indeed the largest political protest since the 1979 Revolution. This momentous anthology explores these critical questions through key statements, communiqus, manifestos and the debates which have emerged from this vibrant social movement.

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Professor Arash Khazeni Wins 2010 Middle East Studies Association Book Award

Arash Khazeni, an assistant professor of history at Pomona College, has been awarded the 2010 Houshang Pourshariati Iranian Studies Book Award for his volume Tribes & Empire on the Margins of Nineteenth-Century Iran (2010).

The recognition comes from the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) of North America, the premier scholarly organization in the field. Criteria for the award include “substantive understanding of the social and political experiences of the Iranian people and their civilization” and “their contribution to and influence on the world at large.”

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Former Durham academic released from Iranian jail

14 February 2011

by Daniel Johnson

Source: Palatine Online

Dr. Reza Molavi, former director of the Centre for Iranian Studies (CIS), is believed to have been released from Iranian jail roughly a month ago, but there remains confusion about his arrest.

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Clash over Iran’s capability: Effects of sanctions and computer worm on uranium production are disputed.

From Nature, 23 February 2011

Sharon Weinberger

Experts at two prominent organizations are clashing over whether Iran is improving its uranium enrichment capability, a key measure of its ability to produce a nuclear weapon.

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Hidden Secrets: Durham Professor jailed last year

The One can exclusively reveal that Reza Molavi, a tutor at Durham University was arrested and imprisoned in Iran last year having been accused of creating a think-tank to overthrow the Iranian regime.

For some reason, this has not been reported in Western media yet and is shrouded by secrecy. The University has not acknowledged this or that he is missing.

Reza Molavi was director of Durham’s controversial Centre for Iranian Studies (CIS), a group to which jailed PhD student Ehsan was connected. They had co-authored several research papers together.

The CIS is part of Durham’s School of Government and International Affairs (SGIA), which featured in the WIKILEAKS cable exclusively revealed to you by The One.

Molavi was a consultant in Oil and Gas issues as well as the ‘Executive Director of a research cluster ‘ within the SGIA. He was an honorary fellow of the group and had been a college mentor at a number of colleges including St. Cuthberts Society 2009-10.

According to the HRNA (Human Rights Activists News Agency), no one has any information about his fate. He was arrested at the Imam Khomeini Airport in Tehran, Iran in April 2010 while returning from Tehran to the UK.  He was not allowed to meet or call his family for several months.

Read the rest here