IRAN’S CULTURAL FOREIGN POLICY IN CENTRAL ASIA AND THE SOUTHERN CAUCASUS SINCE 1991
William Johnston, BA in Media Production and Religion, MA in International Affairs, Researcher at Northeastern University (Boston, U.S.)
Although many foreign policy strategists put Iran’s cultural policy on the forefront of its foreign policy agenda, in Central Asia and the Southern Caucasus the Islamic Republic’s emphasis on culture is diminished when compared with its security and economic foreign policies. Iran’s foreign policy today is shaped more by pragmatism and realpolitik than it is by revolutionary Islam and a desire to export the revolution. Tehran’s reasons for pursuing a foreign policy that relies more on pragmatism than ideology are many.
The Islamic Republic’s current foreign policy objectives were molded significantly by its experiences with incorporating religious ideology into its foreign policy soon after the Islamic Revolution. A strong and coherent culturally-emphasized foreign policy based on Revolutionary Islam as a prime motivator for geopolitical decision making was emphasized by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The influence of the Islamic Revolution in Iran clearly had a profound impact on Iran’s foreign policy objectives. As such, in its early days the Islamic Republic of Iran attempted to spread the Islamic Revolution beyond its borders into the Muslim countries of the Persian Gulf. However, the Islamic Revolution was not accepted by Iran’s Persian Gulf neighbors, who instead felt an existential threat on their security made by Tehran’s brand of Islam. This threat was part of Saddam Hussein’s reasoning for attacking the Islamic Republic in the Iran-Iraq War of 1980-1988. The war had a significant impact on Iran’s domestic capabilities to provide both a sense of……………….