Iran may become an important regional ally and economic partner of the West following the lifting of sanctions but this will not affect its interests in the East, especially its partnership with Russia.
This was stated by Dr Clement Therme, Research Fellow at the School of Advanced Studies in Social Sciences in Paris, while delivering a lecture on 'The Iran Russia Entente: Marriage of Convenience or Strategic Partnership'.
The lecture was organised by the Area Study Centre for Europe (ASCE), University of Karachi, in collaboration with the Karachi Council on Foreign Relations and the Alliance Francaise, Karachi under its Open Doors in Pakistan project.
In his lecture, Dr Therme said the rise of the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) in Middle East had helped the West realise the importance of Iran and its potential to become a partner in the war against such militant organisations.
He observed that the US and Europe were gradually adopting the Russian perspective of Iran which had enjoyed a close engagement with Tehran since 1990s.
The French scholar, also author of a book on Iran-Russia relations, said both the countries shared an anti-West stance which helped them come closer.
"The Syrian civil war has been a game-changer. It has brought Tehran and Moscow closer as both governments took a mutual and aggressive stand over the issue. Their aim is to support the Syrian state, not Bashar al-Assad, in order to help Syria avoid a fate similar to what Iraq has faced following the US-led invasion of 2003."
While Dr Therme predicted that Iran may become a major gas supplier to Europe now that the sanctions had been lifted, he also acknowledged that this particular rise could be seen as a threat by Russia.
But, he said, the two countries had the potential and will to continue their partnership despite all hurdles.
Having constructive relations with Moscow, he observed, was from Tehran’s point of view an essential condition for ensuring the survival of the Islamic regime, just as maintaining hostile relations with the US remained for more than thirty years a pre-requisite for ideologically legitimising the Islamic republic.
He further observed that the Syrian war had put Iran in a sensitive position as it was acting out on a more sectarian role, hence, losing support of Sunni Arbas it once enjoyed by raising voice against US and Israel.
ASCE Director Dr Uzma Shujaat observed that Iran-Russia bilateral cooperation was based on five pillars – energy, nuclear programme, bringing peace in Afghanistan, ensuring stability in Central Asia, and safeguarding bilateral interests in Iraq, Syria and the greater Middle East.
She pointed out that bilateral relations between Moscow and Tehran underwent major developments in 2013 when the two countries signed a military cooperation pact.
She observed that, “Russia played an important role in lifting sanctions from Tehran and it is expected that their relationship will grow further.”
KCFR President and former diplomat Shahid Amin and Secretary Ahsan Zubairi, also spoke on the occasion.
The event was widely attended by diplomatic community based in Karachi, including the Consular Generals of Iran, Russia and France and former ambassadors and diplomats among others.
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