By Seyed Jalal Dehqani Firouzabadi, Professor of International Relations, Allameh Tabatabaei University, Tehran (Source: Iran Review)
Historical experience has regularly shown that shock therapy is one of the similarities that exist between a game of soccer and the game of politics. When a soccer team fails to win its matches over a period of time, the shock therapy method is usually administered by changing the head coach or the entire team of coaches, so that, by putting an end to the existing unfavorable trend, the team would get back to normal.
In the game of politics, this method of therapy is usually used to prevent untoward consequences as well as high costs which are often associated with faulty political trends. This is especially true about the foreign policy sphere of a country where this method is often taken advantage of to reconstruct and normalize relations with other countries. The use of shock therapy method has been also in vogue with regard to Iran's relations with the European countries. For example, during the crisis over the incident at Mykonos restaurant, 15 European countries summoned their ambassadors from Tehran. After a while, however, the same European states took advantage of the opportunity offered by the election of a new president in Iran in order to send their ambassadors back to Tehran and try to rebuild relations with the Islamic Republic.
It seems that the recent election of the centrist politician, Dr. Hassan Rouhani, as the new president of Iran is another instance of shock therapy in Iran's relations with Europe. It has created new conditions, which are similar to what existed back in 1997, and can pave the way for the UK and other European countries to use the same method of shock therapy one more time in order to normalize relations with Iran. The new conditions have prompted a number of past and present British officials to take new positions on Iran. For instances, the former British foreign secretary, Jack Straw, has indicated his willingness to pay a visit to Iran following the election of Rouhani. In the meantime, the incumbent British Foreign Secretary William Hague has also opined that his government is ready to normalize relations with Iran. All these examples show that Britain is bent on taking the best advantage of the opportunity offered by the change of administration in Iran in order to normalize its relations with the Islamic Republic. Before the above announcements by the British officials, their counterparts in France had talked about the possibility of inviting the new Iranian president to take part in Geneva 2 talks, which are supposed to focus on finding a peaceful solution to the ongoing crisis in Syria. Therefore, one may claim that official and unofficial remarks by British and other European officials are clear signs of their readiness to change the diplomatic course of relations between Iran and Britain, followed by other European countries, during the term of the new moderate administration in Tehran.
Of course, it is true that the mere lip service and sufficing to making positive remarks, and declaration of willingness to improve relations between Iran and the UK, will not be enough to solve the existing “problems between Iran and Britain and Europe.” However, such measures are a good sign of a change in discourse which is usually the first step toward taking more practical measures. Such an alteration in discourse can finally pave the way for the normalization of relations between Iran and Britain. The next step, then, would be taking measures to improve relations between Iran and other European countries on the basis of mutual respect, detente, and mutual confidence building aimed at meeting the national interests and rights of the Iranian nation. Let’s not forget that the main principle in the foreign policy of the Islamic Republic is development of relations with the entire world on the basis of mutual respect and interests. Undoubtedly, this principle will be further strengthened and invigorated in the foreign policy of the new moderate administration within framework of its centrist discourse because one of the main elements of a centrist discourse in foreign policy is having constructive and effective interactions with other countries in the world.
It goes without saying that a simple change of discourse is not per se sufficient for the normalization of foreign relations. However, the changing tone of the British and European officials can be useful, at least, in that it will prevent further securitization of issues related to Iran and depiction of a negative picture of the Islamic Republic. This mudslinging policy against Iran has been followed since many years ago by radical politicians in Israel and the United States as well as by pro-Israeli extremists at an international level. However, it has been greatly undermined as a result of the shock therapy which took place following the election of Dr. Rouhani as the new president of Iran. However, the enemies of Iran are trying to reconfigure the real character of the elected Iranian president and his policies in order to prevent further normalization of Iran's relations with the world and create international consensus against Iran.
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