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  • Author: Nadia Helmy
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Iranian Review of Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Center for Strategic Research
  • Abstract: In the past three decades, Chinese Iranian and Middle East Studies have become more and more systematic, which is reflected not only in the great volume of publication, but also in the varied research methodologies and the increase in Iranian and Middle East academic journals. The development of Chinese Middle East studies have accelerated in particular after Arab Spring revolutions and the political changes in the Middle East (2000- 2013). Research institutes evolved from state-controlled propaganda offices into multi-dimensional academic and non-academic entities, including universities, research institutes, military institutions, government offices, overseas embassies and mass media. At the same time, publications evolved from providing an introduction and overview of Iran and Middle Eastern states to in-depth studies of Middle East politics and economics in three stages: beginnings (1949- 1978), growth (1979- 1999), and dealing with energy, religion, culture, society and security. The Middle East-related research programs' funding provided by provincial, ministerial and national authorities have increased and the quality of research has greatly improved. And finally, China has established, as well as joined, various academic institutions and NGOs, such as the Chinese Middle East Studies Association (CMESA), the Asian Middle East Studies Association (AMESA) and the Arabic Literature Studies Association (ALSA). However, Chinese Middle East Studies remain underdeveloped, both in comparison with China's American, European, and Japanese studies at home, and with Middle East studies in the West.
  • Topic: Security, Energy Policy, Government, Politics, Religion, Culture, Authoritarianism
  • Political Geography: Japan, China, America, Europe, Iran, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Amir Sajedi
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Iranian Review of Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Center for Strategic Research
  • Abstract: India and Israel share many common characteristics such as having emerged from a colonial past of the British Empire, and having a parliamentary system which encompasses moderate and radical forces. In spite of this shared background, for nearly four decades, India did not show interest in establishing complete diplomatic relations with Israel, and in general supported and voted for defense of the Palestinians and the Arab Middle-Eastern governments and for condemnation of Israel in world bodies such as the United Nations. However the broad changes in the world stage arising in the 1990's such as the break-up of the Soviet Union, the occupation of Kuwait by Iraq and the subsequent crisis in the Middle-East, the rise of the price of oil, the reduction in the remittances sent back to India by the returning Indian workers from Arab countries, and also the change of the political climate in India, the increase in support for the right wing (B J P) all changed the direction of the attitudes of most Indian politicians towards Israel. But developing Indo-Israel relations does not affect Indo-Iran's relations.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: Britain, Middle East, India, Israel, Kuwait, Soviet Union, Palestine, Arabia, United Nations
  • Author: Farhad Atai
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Iranian Review of Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Center for Strategic Research
  • Abstract: Developments in the Middle East in the past decades, and especially in the past few years, have drawn the world's attention to this region. Never since the break-up of the Ottoman Empire at the beginning of the 20th century has the region been so volatile and explosive. While the Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues to have a deciding effect on the Middle East, other issues have appeared, further complicating the politics of the region. The stunning socio-political developments in the Arab world during the past year, which started in Tunisia and spread to Egypt, Yemen, Libya and Bahrain are still unfolding and will permanently change the Arab World. Where does Iran fit into the political dynamics of the Middle East in these turbulent times? This paper attempts to answer that question. After a review of the recent developments in the Arab world, it examines the Islamic Republic's position in the region in the light of the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979, the breakup of the Soviet Union and subsequent developments in Central Asia, the U.S.-led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq as well as the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah. The paper suggests that the changing geopolitics of the region has positioned Iran in a relatively stronger position vis-à-vis the Sunni-Shi'a debate. It further suggests that three decades after its Islamic Revolution, Iran has matured. This is especially true in the wake of the rising extremist tendencies and groups such as al-Qa'ida in the region. Once the shorter term issues are resolved, Iran can have a moderating influence on the dynamics of the region.
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iraq, Iran, Central Asia, Middle East, Israel, Yemen, Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain
  • Author: Kourosh Ahmadi
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Iranian Review of Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Center for Strategic Research
  • Abstract: In the aftermath of the visit of the Iranian President to the Island of Abu Musa on 11 April 2012 and the uproar that followed, a fresh look at the issue is warranted. The concern of this paper is not to discuss the three Islands of Abu Musa and the Tunbs, but to briefly review the context which gave rise to the issue of the three islands in the first place and influenced its development to date. The paper tries to place the current controversy surrounding the three islands in its historic perspective, explaining how it grew out of antagonism that marked the relationship between the prevailing global power, Great Britain, and the major regional power, Iran, for 170 years. It aims to address the general policy of Britain during its presence in the Persian Gulf, which aimed in part to control all islands of this waterway. It explains how for 170 years, Britain tried to erode Iranian influence in the Persian Gulf, both directly by asserting its colonial rule over Iranian islands and port districts, and indirectly by claiming Iranian islands for its protégés on the Arab littoral. It shows that this tactic applied to almost all other Iranian islands in one way or another and was not limited to the three islands of Abu Musa and the Tunbs.
  • Topic: Development
  • Political Geography: Iran, Arabia, Island
  • Author: Khalilollah Sardarnia
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Iranian Review of Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Center for Strategic Research
  • Abstract: The prevailing outlook among analysts before the advent of the recent social movements in North Africa and a number of Arab Middle Eastern countries indicated that the region will continue to resist the wave of democratization. The fall of several authoritarian regimes and continuity of social movements has generated serious doubts in this outlook, leading to the appearance of promising horizons for democratization. This paper argues that these social movements originate from the exacerbating legitimacy crisis of authoritarian governments and rising political, social and economic dissatisfaction of the general public, including the youth and the modern middle class. This work seeks to answer the question: what are the major sociological origins and precipitating factors influencing the advent of social movements in the Middle East and North Africa? In response, it can be argued that the advent of social movements in a number of Middle East and North African countries is rooted in the legitimacy crisis, as well as rising political, social and economic dissatisfaction of the general public, the youth and the modern middle class in recent decades. The web-based social networks and cell phones acted as precipitating factors in the massive mobilization and integration of mass protests and those of the modern middle class and the fall of a number of authoritarian regimes. These movements are notably characterized by being comprehensive, Islamic, democratic, anti-despotic, independence-seeking, and highly reliant on new information and communications technologies. The web-based social networks served as a precipitating factor in massive mobilization of the aforementioned strata within the context of an exacerbated legitimacy crisis and the gap between the state and the society rather than as a structural deep-rooted factor.
  • Topic: Democratization, Economics, Government, Islam, Social Movement
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, North Africa
  • Author: Mohammad Soltaninejad
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Iranian Review of Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Center for Strategic Research
  • Abstract: The Arab revolutions have changed the political and security landscape of the Persian Gulf. The upheavals have altered the sources of threats states used to feel from those emanating from outside the internal ones; the unrest in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia has proved that the sources of tension for the Arab states are quite societal. As a result, the old Arab tactic of attribution of domestic challenges to alleged Iranian interventionism is now obsolete. The traditional role played by the regional powers is also affected and the regional alignments are in flux. The overthrow of the Mubarak regime along with the U.S middle of the way approach during the Arab revolutions have elevated Iran's stance in the Persian Gulf at the expense of the U.S and the GCC. Moreover, the security interdependence of the Persian Gulf states, particularly among the GCC, is tightened and in the face of increasing security challenges, the monarchical bloc is revitalized with the aim to buttress Arab regimes. All the said developments are the subject of examination in this article through application of the regional security complex (RSC) theory.
  • Topic: Security
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Arabia
  • Author: Mohammad Hossein Hafezian
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Iranian Review of Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Center for Strategic Research
  • Abstract: The election of Mahmood Ahmadinejad in Iran in June 2005 came to have an enormous impact on Iran's foreign relations, including Iran's relations with the Arab states of the Persian Gulf. The present article looks into the state and dynamism of bilateral relations between Iran and the GCC during the 2005-09 period. Placed in the context of the background of relations between the two sides since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran and specifically the 8 years of confidence-building and détente under Khatami, the article discusses the factors that affected these bilateral relations during the period under review. It is argued that such factors as Ahmadinejad's peculiar foreign policy outlook and discourse, relations with the U.S., diverging postures towards Israel, threat perceptions, Iran's rising regional stature and influence in the post-2001 period, and also dispute on the three Iranian islands in the Persian Gulf and the name of the waterway, have each affected the state of relations. The review also shows the resilience of economic and trade ties between the two sides beyond the mere political realm and the outstanding issues and disagreements. Considering the inevitable negative impact of the continuing tension and conflict between Iran and the U.S. on the state of relations between Iran and the GCC, the paper emphasizes the imperative of confidence-building measures and policies by all the parties concerned–within the region and beyond. It concludes that any meaningful improvement–and ultimate rapprochement–in the U.S.-Iran relations, even though far-fetched or illusive at the time, would help these relations and the mutually-beneficial establishment of regional security arrangements in the Persian Gulf.
  • Topic: Debt
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Israel, Arabia
  • Author: Seyed Kazem Sajjadpour
  • Publication Date: 04-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Iranian Review of Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Center for Strategic Research
  • Abstract: In the last couple of seasons, the Arab world has been engulfed by popular uprisings. What was sparked by a young Tunisian man's self- immolation, by any definition in social science, has evolved into a turning point in the Middle East and North Africa. Some observers have compared recent events with the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in the aftermath of World War I, resulting in the birth of a new regional order. All concerned players in international and regional politics have demonstrated a high degree of sensitivity to this indeed remarkable shift and have been trying to cope with a plethora of analytical as well as policy challenges. In this equation, how does the Iranian perspective on these developments look like? Taking into account that there are a wide range of views in the Iranian discourse on the Arab uprisings on the one hand, and the exigencies of Iranian neighborhood with the Arab world, on the other there is no single way to discern "the Iranian view". However, an Iranian perspective may be recognized by looking at Iran's views on the nature and direction of the Arab uprisings, as well as the opportunities and challenges these developments pose for the Islamic Republic of Iran.
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Arabia, North Africa, Tunisia
  • Author: Reza Simbar, Arsalan Ghorbani
  • Publication Date: 04-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Iranian Review of Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Center for Strategic Research
  • Abstract: The Arab uprisings, and the one in Bahrain in particular, have caused tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia. The Bahraini government's Saudibacked crackdown on pro-democracy protests has caused ties between Iran and the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to turn somewhat hostile in nature. However, just a few years ago, the situation was very different, with Iran being invited to a GCC summit. This paper intends to give context to the aforementioned development by analyzing its background and dynamics of Iran-GCC relations. To this aim, this paper will examine, review and analyze Iranian foreign policy with regard to the security geopolitics of the Persian Gulf. In the course of history, the countries in the region have undergone political, economic, security and even ideological ups and downs, which have led them to become the focus of major powers' attention. The region has also attracted attention due to its decisive role from geopolitical, security and economic points of view. A look at the background of security arrangements in the region establishes that all designs by outside powers' and all extra-regional interference have been futile in bringing security and stability to the region. Iran is among the Persian Gulf littoral states which, due to their strategic location and possession of huge crude oil and natural gas reserves, enjoy a special status. Any form of insecurity in the region will directly impact Iranian interests. Therefore, the strategy of the Iranian government vis-à-vis the security of this important region is based on the expansion of regional cooperation and intra-regional security-building. In this regard, there has been a remarkable growth in political exchanges and interaction at high levels between the Islamic Republic of Iran and other Persian Gulf states.
  • Political Geography: Iran, Arabia, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Persia
  • Author: Mohammad Farazmand
  • Publication Date: 07-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Iranian Review of Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Center for Strategic Research
  • Abstract: The fall of the Tunisian and Egyptian rulers as a result of the popular uprisings in the Arab World was the harbinger of vast, surprising developments, which rapidly restored self-confidence to the Arab Street, attracting the attention of international actors and observers to the revived power of a new player affecting developments in the Middle East. Although in contemporary history, Arab public opinion has been tense at most times and always been present in the margins or core of developments, it failed to be involved in developments as extensively as it recently did. In addition, in contemporary Arab history, this is the first time that rulers have been dismissed as a result of popular pressure and street protests. This article examines the developments and uprisings in the Arab world in 2011 in light of the change in behavior and increased capability of Arab public opinion. In particular, this article assesses the reasons for the lack of democracy among the Arabs, and differences between the recent uprisings, and protests and movements in the past decade. The main argument of this paper is that the change in political behavior of the Arab youth and new political elites is a result of change in their political outlook and redefinition of the self and the other in their relationship with domestic rulers and foreign powers. The article tries, using an epistemological approach, to portray the character of the new Arab uprisings; arguing that they are different from other uprisings in contemporary history in terms of form, content and people's demands. In this picture, Arab nationalism and Salafist Islamism, which promote transnational ideals, are declining on the horizon of new uprisings. Instead, a new Arab political identity with an anti-despotic, pluralist and democracy-seeking approach is expanding.
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Egypt, Tunisia
  • Author: Kourosh Ahmadi
  • Publication Date: 07-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Iranian Review of Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Center for Strategic Research
  • Abstract: The paper aims to critically consider the proposition maintaining that the contemporary state of affairs between Iran and the Arab world results from an endemic, deep-rooted enmity between these two peoples with roots in the annals of history. To elucidate its argument, the paper offers a brief review of the major ups and downs in the historical relationship between Iranians and Arabs to see whether animosity or good-neighbourliness has mainly prevailed. Then, seeking to pinpoint the causes of uneasiness in the Iranian-Arab relationship since the 1950s, the focus of the paper turns to the formation of pan-Arab ideology and its strong anti-Iranian elements. Major differences in outlooks, coupled with territorial and diplomatic disagreements, had Nasserite Egypt and especially Ba'athist Iraq embrace these elements and begin implementing them to their full and extreme extent at a time when a monarchical West-leaning regime was in power in Iran. The paper concludes that the uneasiness in Iran-Arab relations during the past five to six decades has been situational and a modern phenomenon, chiefly stemming from specific political circumstances with certain roots in nation-building activities in the concerned countries. Hence, historical and ethno-religious or civilizational roots of this strained relationship are either non-existent or insignificant.
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Arabia, Egypt
  • Author: Hamid Ahmadi
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Iranian Review of Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Center for Strategic Research
  • Abstract: The importance of national identity and national feelings in contemporary Iranian politics has been much neglected students of Iranian studies, particularly outside Iran. The establishment of the Islamic Islamically-oriented policies in its foreign policy seem to have encouraged many to believe that Islam and Iran in the contemporary context are two mutually exclusive factors. However, recent internal developments such as the presidential election, on the one hand, and the firm position of Iranians inside and outside the country toward regional political and international cultural challenges vis indicate that Iranians consider both the religious and national dimensions of their identity as important, and they consider the relation between religion and nationality as mutually inclusive opposed to an exclusive one. This article, focusing on the issue of Islam and nationalism and their relationships, tries to highlight this important factor in order to arrive at a better understanding of the political dynamics of Iranian society and p contrary to the situation in the Arab world, these two elements are both constitutive factors of the Iranian identity. Following a rather brief theoretical discussion of the relations between the two in Islamic and Middle Eastern pe explain the political reasons behind the rise of the Islam nationalism controversy in contemporary Iranian politics and emphasizes that such a dichotomous discourse has an elite rather than popular basis. The concluding s concentrates on the importance of the national factor in the Iranian society by focusing on the two recent presidential elections in Iran as well as on several external political and cultural challenges to Iranian national heritage to stance inside and outside of Iran.
  • Political Geography: Iran, Arabia