Prominent economists report that the deteriorating economic crisis in China and the various crises faced by Russia have weakened Iran’s position as a northern neighbor in international forums. This is concerning for analysts who fear that the Islamic Republic’s Eastward focus may jeopardize Iran’s national interests in the not-so-distant future.
The government of Ebrahim Raisi has prioritized a significant shift towards China and Russia, despite the unfavorable conditions in both countries. Beijing is grappling with escalating and serious economic crises, while Moscow has lost its strong position in international forums due to its aggression in Ukraine. Many experts believe that this policy of the Raisi government, at a time when Russia and China are facing major crises, poses a threat to Iran’s national interests.
The government of Ebrahim Raisi has placed an unprecedented emphasis on strengthening ties with China and Russia, despite the unfavorable situations in both countries. Beijing is facing increasing and serious economic crises, while Moscow has lost its strong position in international forums due to its aggression in Ukraine. According to many experts, this policy of the Raisi government, at a time when Russia and China are facing both minor and major crises, is a move that endangers Iran’s national interests.
Iran Gate has examined the consequences of the East-oriented policy in a three-part dossier. The current report provides a general overview of the current situation, and the next two parts address the economic and security damages resulting from reliance on China and Russia, respectively.
East-oriented policy and harm to national interests
Excessive economic reliance on China, which has intensified in the thirteenth government, can seriously endanger the future of the country’s economy. Additionally, Iran’s unwarranted involvement in the war between Russia and Ukraine has led to Iran being recognized as an accomplice of Vladimir Putin and accused of violating the territorial integrity of Ukraine, a member country of the United Nations.
The adoption of an East-oriented policy and the exclusion of Western countries from cooperation options for Iran have created problems that have been repeatedly discussed in terms of their consequences for national interests in recent years. One of these damages is the compromise of Iran’s nuclear dossier for the Russians in negotiations with the West. On the other hand, the Chinese, due to their control over various sectors of Iran’s economy, have carried out destructive actions through Chinese companies operating in Iran.
The problem here is that due to the extremist approach of the main government towards Beijing and Moscow, a worrying outlook has been drawn for national interests. This outlook not only puts the Iranian economy at risk of more serious threats than today’s threats, but also endangers national security with Iran’s interference in the Ukraine war benefiting Moscow. Furthermore, the Iranian nuclear dossier has entered a phase of deadlock, considering the mentioned documents, and it seems that the only way to resolve this issue will be through direct negotiations with the Americans, which was initially declared as a red line by the main government.
The world falls into the hands of the yellow dragon.
From 2017 to 2020, and due to the intensification of oil and banking sanctions on the Islamic Republic, Iran was forced to unofficially sell a significant portion of its oil to the Chinese. Trump’s maximum pressure policy had led Iran to fall into the arms of the East, especially China, and Beijing also took full advantage of this situation.
With the arrival of Joe Biden in the White House, these pressures significantly decreased and the possibility of unofficial oil exports for the Islamic Republic of Iran was provided. However, despite this opening, the Ibrahim Raisi government continued to export oil to China in a non-transparent manner, to the extent that it is said that about 85 to 90 percent of Iran’s oil exports are carried out to China. This led the Chinese to take extensive and important advantages from Iran and to make the most of the policy known as the ‘Look East’ policy of the Islamic Republic.
Support for Putin and further isolation of Iran
Only six months after the inauguration of the Ibrahim Raisi government, Putin issued the order to invade Ukraine in February 2022. This important decision by Moscow had immediate negative consequences in Iran’s politics, as the nuclear negotiations that were underway in Vienna suddenly came to a halt and diplomats from both sides returned to their countries.
However, the work did not end here. In the summer of 1401 and after the Doha negotiations, some internal hardliners encouraged the government to withdraw from the negotiations. These individuals, who also had significant influence in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, claimed that Russia could succeed in the war and that a severe cold wave would hit Europe. However, this did not happen, and the Iranian nuclear file faced new complications, preventing these knots from being untied until today.
On the other hand, it was revealed in the fall of the previous year that Iran had provided domestically-made drones to Moscow before and during the war in Ukraine. The publication of this news immediately led Europeans to impose new sanctions against the Islamic Republic. The United States also strongly condemned this action by the Islamic Republic and effectively trapped Iran in the military and security domain of Moscow. This is despite the fact that, despite the promises they had made, the Russians have not yet delivered any military equipment, including Su-24 military aircraft and the S-400 missile system, to Iran.
The next section examines Iran’s dependence on China in more detail.
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