TEHRAN – Political analyst Arshin Adib-Moghaddam says the annexation of Crimea by Russia has pushed world politics toward a “dangerous trajectory”.
In an interview with the Tehran Times, Adib-Moghaddam, a reader in comparative politics and international relations at the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London, says the West “is not innocent in this dangerous development” because after the end of the Cold War “successive U.S. administrations failed to invite Russia into a serious strategic dialogue.”
Following is the text of the interview:
Q: What will be the consequences of the Crimean secession from Ukraine?
A: It is an annexation and it has put the direction of world politics on a very different and dangerous trajectory. Suddenly, we are confronted with the dynamics of the Cold War; after Crimea the "end of history" enthusiastically proclaimed by half-witted think tank analysts after the demise of the Soviet Union seems far off. The "West" in general and the United States in particular is not innocent in this dangerous development. After the end of the Cold War successive U.S. administrations failed to invite Russia into a serious strategic dialogue. Instead, institutional remnants of the Cold War associated with Western imperialism in particular NATO were not rebranded into an inclusive military alliance. NATO remains quintessentially American. It is the military embodiment of U.S. hegemony and it should have been turned into a force for world peace after the end of the Cold War which would have required changing its name and systematic efforts at inviting Russia and others into a serious security dialogue. The opposite happened. NATO was positioned as a world policeman and expanded eastwards. While it is true that the new democracies needed military security to function, the expansion should have been accompanied with a second track in order to soothe Russian fears about U.S. hegemony in Eurasia. After the annexation of Crimea, the European Union will never see Putin's Russia in the same light as it did before. This is a momentous change of perception. Iran should not be on the wrong side of history. The authoritarian and largely oligarchic political system in Russia is not what the majority of people in the world would see as a model. People want to be free from state coercion, and they want to have an equitable socio-economic order, there is no doubt. Hence, Western Europe continues to be the societal and political model that people aspire to, universal norms such as social equality, political freedoms and human rights are truly universal exactly because they have been achieved through collective struggles in global history all over the world. Russia spectacularly lost this ideological competition once with the end of the Soviet Union which came about through the power of the people. I am in no doubt that Russians won't be coerced into another dictatorship for long.
Q: One of the issues which is very vital for Europe is energy security and Europe is dependent on Russia in this regard. Can it be imagined that the EU will probably choose the Iranian gas as an alternative? If such a thing happens what will be its impact on the Russian stance toward the Iranian nuclear case?
A: Iran is certainly in a better position now because the Europeans will be interested in diversifying oil and gas imports away from Russia. Russia has benefitted from the sanctions regime against us and it has an interest in jeopardizing a potential rapprochement with the United States. Russia today is by far more Machiavellian in its foreign policy than Europe and even the United States. Iran has the unique opportunity to capitalize on the current multipolar constellation of world politics, but in order to do so it needs to have cordial relations with all poles including the European Union and the United States. Recently, a Russian representative hinted at consequences on the Iran file if the West applies to much pressure on the country due to the annexation of Crimea. This indicates that Russia has an interest in Iranian dependency. And why would we be seen as dependent on a country that simply annexes foreign territories without any military provocation? At least the current administration in the United States has learned from history which is why Obama is so low key about Syria. But Russia is not a democracy, there is no civil society that could supervise the state. Hence the threshold to act recklessly is lower. A state like this is an unreliable interlocutor for Iran which is why we should take this opportunity to signal to the Europeans that Iran can fill the energy void and that the country can be a reliable partner in the pacification of West Asia and North Africa. Iranian interests have to be configurated within a global framework. Iran has to globalize its foreign policies.
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