The Islamic Republic of Iran will be one of the new members of BRICS from 2024. What are the country’s expectations? How will this membership affect the Iranian-US relations and the Palestine question?
We talked about these issues with Seyed Mohammad Marandi, professor at the University of Tehran, a frequent guest in international media who has had deep insights into Iranian politics.
Iran will become a membership in 2024 of BRICS. What will that mean for the Iranian American relations?
It decreases the leverage of the United States over Iran because Iran’s membership in BRICS creates new opportunities to circumvent U.S. sanctions, for business and trade other than Western financial institutions and I think this is a major plus not only for Iran but for all countries that are sanctioned or under the threat of US sanctions.
Is this BRICS membership part of a general foreign policy orientation of the Islamic Republic of Iran? Like placing Iran in a different place in the world?
I think it is a part of the broader Iranian strategy to diversify of its relations and relationships across the world and to limit the influence of Western powers and Western countries. Iran’s focus on its relationship with global South countries, whether within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization or within the framework of BRICS, all of these make the United States and the Europeans less important for Iranian business, for Iranian trade, and for Iranian security.
This doesn’t mean that the Iranians want to destroy any potential relationship with West Europe and North America, but it wants to make sure that these countries created centuries old emperor do not have the ability in future to strangle ordinary Iranians suffer. So, it wants to diminish the western influence.
What do you expect of the membership of Iran in BRICS and in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization? For the Western Asian conflict with the Zionist entity and the Palestinian question. Do you think that BRICS and the SCO can play a good role here?
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization and BRICS empower countries like Iran. They empower them in a sense that these organizations are completely non-Western. The United States and its allies have no role to play in BRICS or the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
This empowers countries that are non-Western. It brings them closer to one another, and that itself helps tilt the balance of power from Western proxies and Western allies that are racist, Western allies that are despotic, Western allies that cause mass suffering.
The Israeli regime loses power because the West loses power and authority over the through the creation of alternative means of trade, alternative means of creating security, where the United States and its partners cannot disrupt these processes.
Now the Islamic Republic of Iran is a member of BRICS. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a member, and the Arab Republic of Egypt is going to become a member of BRICS, all of them in 2024. And all these countries have different degrees of influence and leverage over the Palestinian question. And then we have the Chinese proposal for the Palestinian question, which implies the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. Should we expect that within the BRICS framework, the Palestinian cause may receive some more coordinated regional support from these countries?
I think that it is inevitable as non-Western countries rise, whether it’s within the framework of BRICS, whether it’s within the framework of other regional or global organizations, automatically Western powers decline. Because in relative terms, the United States has been the dominant power for a very long time. But as non-Western governments grow stronger, as they cooperate more with one another, it is inevitable that U.S. influence across the globe decreases. And the only reason why we have apartheid in Palestine is because of the United States today.
Without the United States, the Israeli regime would not exist. So for the Iranians, of course, there are a lot of similarities with the rest of the international community about the fate of the Palestinian people, and that the Palestinians must have their own state.
But in addition to that, the Iranians also believe that apartheid across Palestine must be dismantled, and that the Palestinian people who’ve been expelled from their homes and who’ve been living in refugee camps for decades have the right to return to those homes, and those people who’ve immigrated from Europe and North America and who have taken their homes do not have the right to that property.
What should the other BRICS members expect from Tehran? What will be the agenda, what will be the proposals of Iran to the BRICS summit on presidential and other levels?
Iran is one of the richest countries in the world when it comes to natural resources. Energy of course is well known. Iran’s gas wealth is second after Russia and Iranian oil wealth is well known to everyone. But Iranian natural resources in all the different fields are extraordinarily rich and much of it has not been developed because of the sanctions.
In addition to that, Iran is a key country with regards to trade routes. Iran can link the Indian Ocean, the Persian Gulf, to Central Asia, to East China, to Russia, to the Caucasus, and therefore it is a key country for trade among BRICS nations.
But also, and probably most importantly, Iran brings something else to the table, and that is Iran as a strong and independent country has been able to defeat Western sanctions, despite the suffering imposed on ordinary Iranians, and despite the fact that Western countries have tried their best to make Iranian people suffer, the Islamic Republic of Iran has survived these sanctions, and it is now growing, the economy is growing. And as the West declines further, the rise of Iran increases in pace. So Iran has a lot to offer to BRICS, whether it’s their worldview, their politics, their independence, their natural resources, or with regards to geopolitical location of the country.
My last question would be, how was the membership in BRICS received domestically in Iran?
It was welcomed. I think that ordinary Iranians see that the foreign policy of the current administration has had key successes. Early on in President Raisi’s administration, we saw Iran joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and now it’s joined BRICS as well.
In addition to that, Iran’s relations with regional countries have improved dramatically. Iran had problems with Tajikistan in Central Asia and it had problems with Turkmenistan also in Central Asia. Those have been resolved and Iran’s relationship with the whole of Central Asia has improved dramatically.
And of course, as many know, Iran and Saudi Arabia have re-established ties, Iranian relations with countries in the Persian Gulf region have been improved significantly. Therefore people do see that Iran’s neighborly relationships have improved, its regional relationships have improved, and it’s been able to join very important regional and global organizations.
So, that has been noted by Iranians, and the hope is that as a result, this will help break the sanctions regime even further and enhance the lives of ordinary Iranians that have been suffering the consequences of barbaric sanctions imposed by Western powers.
This interview was first conducted and partly published on TeleSUR.