Reza Bagheri / Eric Lob
Dr. Bagheri is an assistant professor of world studies at the University of Tehran. Dr. Lob is an associate professor of politics and international relations at Florida International University.
The Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI)’s relations with Africa declined to a considerable extent during Hassan Rouhani's presidency. Rouhani pursued a foreign policy that showed little interest in the continent and did not consider it a strategic partner. Some scholars argue this policy exclusively resulted from the IRI's regional involvement in Syria and Yemen, as well as its economic difficulties due to US sanctions. Using Rosenau's pre-theory model of foreign-policy analysis, this article holistically asserts that a combination of individual, societal, and systemic factors caused Rouhani and his administration to neglect Africa. At an individual level, these factors included Rouhani's preference to implement a westward-leaning foreign policy, differentiate himself from his predecessor, and repair Iran's regional and international image. Societally, Rouhani downgraded relations with Africa due to the popularity of his westward-leaning policy among his base of voters and supporters, alongside political factions and parties inside the government. Systemically, Rouhani disengaged from the continent in response to unfavorable, exogenous conditions, including the IRI's increased diplomatic and economic isolation by the United States, its intensified conflict with and pressure from regional rivals, and its rising challenges and setbacks in Africa.
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