On Friday, July 19 2019, Dr. Syed Mohammad Kazem Sajjadpour, President of the famous Institute for Political and International Studies (IPIS), visited us at The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) for a roundtable on Iran’s relationship with the United States and how it is influencing the course of events in the region. He said that in order to understand the question of why Iran is the way it is today, it is important to comprehend three integral factors – the United States’ contradictory policies with Iran, the resulting state of bitterness, and an uneven assessment of the available possibilities. By laying emphasis on the contradictory policies of the United States, during very tense times, Dr. Kazem sought to explain how certain inconsistencies in the harsh policies of the United States have been a significant source of tension between the two countries, especially when pursuing negotiations and settling agreements. Watch Video
He said that negotiations between the United States and Iran continued for twelve years before the Americans decided to withdraw itself from further negotiations. In this regard, Dr. Kazem explained how Iran wasn’t doing anything wrong and it was in fact merely abiding by the negotiations. Even now, he expressed that Iran is willing to negotiate, however, in this era of nationhood and nationalism, Iran has to defend itself – its integrity and sovereignty. Hence, according to him, maximum pressure from the United States is likely to bring maximum resistance from Iran as well. He also explained that contradictory American policies have resulted in a state of bitterness where one has to choose from the limited alternatives available, that is cooperation and confrontation. Talking about Pakistan and Turkey and their relationship with Iran, Dr. Kazem said that Iran, Pakistan and Turkey are all regional players. He further explained that they all have stakes in the region, and are connected through a regional perspective.
Talking specifically about Pakistan, Dr. Kazem pointed out that these countries might have their own sets of attributes and challenges, but they are still regional players and this is something important to understand. He said that this is a transition and the United States doesn’t want to accept this transitioning time in international politics.
Dr. Kazem also attempted to shed light on how these contradictory policies could be linked to the fact that Iran is on a rise. He said that maximum pressure from the United States is likely to weaken Iran. He further elaborated on three elements that could to be attributed to this trend in Iran – the demise of the Soviet Union, the demise of Saddam Hussein, and Iran’s domestic security and technology.
Answering one of the questions, Dr. Kazem highlighted that Iran depends on its own resources and this is its defensive mechanism. Hence, according to him, Iran does not mean to threaten anyone; its domestic security and technology might be the only areas where Iran is self-sufficient.
Talking specifically about the Middle East, Dr. Kazem said that Iran has nothing to do with the Middle East, and that its interference in Afghanistan is purely out of concern for Iran’s own security.
Dr. Kazem concluded by reiterating that Iran has always encouraged cooperation and has dismissed confrontation as an instrument of terrorizing. Iran has not done anything wrong, however, in order to uphold their national sovereignty and integrity, they have to resist and defend themselves.