EU makes efforts to balance its ties between Iran, regional allies

Politics Materials 4 February 2016 18:38 (UTC +04:00)

Baku, Azerbaijan, Feb. 4
By Umid Niayesh- Trend:

The EU is currently trying to balance its newly developing relations with Iran against its longer-standing relations with Turkey, Israel, and the Gulf States, John Feffer, who is director of Foreign Policy In Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies believes.

"So, this is obviously a delicate issue, much depends on what happens internally in Iran, because it will be very difficult for the EU to normalize relations with a more conservative government in Tehran," Feffer told Trend Feb. 4.

Iran and the P5+1 group reached a nuclear agreement last July, which curbs Iran's nuclear program in exchange for the removal of the earlier imposed economic sanctions on the country.

Various EU firms have expressed interest to return to Iranian market following the removal of the sanctions as Iran's nuclear deal with world powers came into force Jan. 16.

As Iran's economy develops, and it moves higher up the value chain, the EU will be a more valuable trading partner than China or Russia, which rely mostly on Iran's raw materials (energy, iron, minerals), Feffer said responding to a question about possibility for the EU to gradually replace China and Russia in Iran's market in post-sanctions era.

While Iranian officials have repeatedly stated that the country is open for economic ties with the US, as well as doing business with the US entrepreneurs, Feffer believes that it will not happen any time soon mainly due to political reasons.

"The obstacles are not really economic, since many US companies are very interested in Iran. They're mostly political. Opposition to economic engagement with Iran is strong within Congress. Again, many US politicians are reluctant to offend longstanding US allies, particularly Israel and Saudi Arabia," he explained.

Feffer, while responding to a question about the idea of Iran's cooperation with the entire West, excluding the US, in compliance with the "West minus the US" doctrine, said when it comes to economic relations, such a doctrine could have some success.
The EU is, for example, moving forward more quickly on economic engagement with Iran, he said.

"But on Iran's larger engagement with the international community, it will be important for Iran and the US to develop closer working relations," he remarked.

In the early 1990s, Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei put forward a doctrine known as the "West minus the United States". The doctrine, which envisages Iran's cooperation with the entire West excluding the US, has since then been followed by all Iranian administrations. Khamenei even banned any talks with the US beyond the nuclear issue.

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