A few days after signing a strategic agreement with Beijing for a period of 25 years, Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi traveled yesterday to Russia to complete a similar agreement, in an indication that priority is given to Asian and neighboring countries.
Before leaving the capital, Tehran, the Iranian president described his visit to Moscow as an “important historical turning point for the development of bilateral relations at various levels,” adding that his country’s relations with the Russians will put an end to unilateralism in the world.
Although he said that trade and economic relations are “unsatisfactory” for the Iranian and Russian sides, Raisi expressed his hope that his visit would contribute to strengthening them.
For his part, the Secretary of the Iranian Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani, considered that the long-term bilateral cooperation represents a “ground for new successful experiences.”
In his tweet on Twitter, Shamkhani wrote that Iranian-Russian cooperation at the regional and international levels has led to the demise of American unilateralism, as he described it.
According to the researcher in political affairs, Mehdi Shkibai, economic cooperation forms the backbone of the two treaties with Beijing and Moscow, but they are considered a challenge to the opponents of the new trinity, Iran, China and Russia.
Speaking to Al Jazeera Net, Shkibaei believes that the new phase of cooperation between the eastern forces opens the door to a new type of confrontation against the Western camp.
He said that Tehran’s orientation towards the east stems from the loss of its relations with Western countries, explaining that his country has been drawing up its relations according to a principled policy and a new tactical plan that heralds the progress of the Eastern bloc, led by the Iranian-Russian-Chinese alliance over Western powers.
Referring to the challenges and risks that await the implementation of such agreements, Shkibai says that Raisi’s government is determined to conclude similar alliances with each of the eastern countries, especially neighboring countries, and Iranian Foreign Minister Hussein Amir Abdollahian’s tour of the Gulf region is nothing but a practical application of this approach.
According to the spokesman, the objectives of Raisi’s visit to Moscow are not limited to strengthening political and economic relations, but also aiming to improve security and military cooperation between the two sides, in addition to the fact that the draft document has other important and different dimensions, including the fight against terrorism.
Criticisms and questions
Despite this relative success, a segment of Iranians believes that cooperation with the Russians has not reached the desired level and has not achieved its goals, especially in the face of US sanctions that have long burdened the Iranian economy over the past years.
In this context, Masoud Daneshmand, a member of the Iran Chamber of Commerce, revealed that the volume of trade exchange between his country and Russia is less than the indicators of trade exchange with China, Germany, France and Turkey, attributing the reason to the low quality of Russian goods compared to their eastern and western counterparts.
In a statement to the “Arman Melli” newspaper, Daneshmand referred to Moscow’s vote in favor of UN resolutions during the era of former US President Barack Obama against Iran, explaining that the history of Iranian-Russian relations testifies that Moscow abandons its allies at crucial moments.
On the other hand, the researcher in strategic affairs, Mahdi Azizi, reads these criticisms in the category of “consonance with Western policy, which is already disturbed by the rapprochement between Iran and both Russia and China.”
Azizi explained, in his speech to Al-Jazeera Net, that the policy of heading east comes to balance Iranian relations with the West without prejudice to Iranian dealings with its European partners.
He denied that circumventing Western sanctions and gaining Russian and Chinese support in the Security Council were among the objectives of the strategic treaties with them, explaining that Tehran had reaped the fruits of its economic, political, security and technological cooperation with Moscow, which prompted it to develop their relations to a strategic level.
He expected Raisi’s visit to Russia to constitute a historic turning point in bilateral relations at various levels, especially in the areas of trade exchanges and coordination over a common currency.
And whether the new Iranian government’s focus on consolidating its relations with eastern countries is in contradiction to the slogan “neither eastern nor western” raised by the Islamic Republic after the victory of its revolution in 1979, Ali Akbar Velayati, advisor to the Iranian guide for international affairs, responded to the questions of Iranian public opinion by saying that “the relations of Iran, with China and Russia, is based on strength and mutual respect, and does not contradict the slogan “Neither Eastern nor Western.”
Velayati stressed, in statements he made to the newspaper “Kayhan” affiliated with the Iranian Supreme Leader’s office, that Russia and China today are completely different from what they were before the demise of communism, pointing out that there is a common enemy for both Iran and Russia, and this is what the Americans themselves know.