What Iran really wants (3)

)Mohammad Javad Zarif  Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of iran(
Fulfilling Iran’s potential
As a solid regional power in this era of intense transition in global politics, Iran stands in a unique position. Given its large landmass and unique geographic position along the east–west transit route, Iran, since antiquity, has enjoyed a preeminent position in its region and beyond. Although Iran’s civilization and cultural heritage have remained intact, its political and economic fortunes have fluctuated periodically, depending on, among other things, its governance at home and its relations with the outside world. The victory of the 1979 revolution, a popular, nationwide, antimonarchical uprising with a mixture of republican and Islamic traits, contributed to the establishment of a new revolutionary order in the country. The repercussions were drastic, and the revolution deeply affected the country’s foreign relations, not only in its immediate neighborhood but also throughout the greater Middle East and in the rest of the world.
Any objective analysis of Iran’s unique attributes within the larger context of its tumultuous region would reveal the country’s significant potential for a prominent regional and global role. The Islamic Republic can actively contribute to the restoration of regional peace, security, and stability and play a catalytic role during this current transitional stage in international relations. In light of the increasing importance of normative and ideational factors in global politics, the Islamic Republic is well suited to draw on the rich millennial heritage of Iranian society and culture and the significant heritage of the Islamic Revolution, particularly its indigenously derived and sustained participatory model of governance. Iran can use such strengths to help realize the deeply cherished national aspirations of the Iranian people, including the achievement of long-term development and regional ascendance commensurate with the country’s inherent capacities and stature.
Iran also benefits from a number of historical characteristics that could be considered unique sources of opportunity, many of which have not been properly or fully leveraged in the past. For example, Iran has remained independent from outside powers and practiced genuine nonalignment, lending it a particular freedom of action within the existing global order. Iran can also leverage its political traditions. It has successfully established an indigenous democratic model of governance, developing and maintaining a rare religious democracy in the modern world. It has an unmatched cultural identity emanating from its dynamic blend of Iranian and Islamic culture, which it can use to promote its mission and message throughout the entire Islamic world. As an ancient society with a plurality of ethnic, religious, and linguistic minorities, Iran also offers a model for political inclusion. And the country has achieved all of this at the center of a vital geostrategic region that has witnessed a long history of major-power rivalries, interventions of all sorts, and protracted military conflicts. Finally, Iran has also demonstrated its potent ideational capabilities and universal reach through such initiatives as President Muhammad Khatami’s “Dialogue Among Civilizations” and President Hassan Rouhani’s recent proposal for a “world against violence and extremism,” which was adopted as a resolution by the UN General Assembly last December.
Governance in the modern world is challenging for every state, regardless of its size, demographics, form of government, geographic position, level of development, or relations with the world. Iran has been an organized state since antiquity, albeit with some periods of interruption. It has thus had extensive relations throughout history, in war and in peace, with its numerous neighbors and with other contending powers. It has accumulated a rich, layered collective memory and a deep reservoir of experiences. Iran borders seven countries and shares access to either the Caspian Sea or the Persian Gulf with 11 countries; both bodies of water are of interest to the littoral states as well as to a host of outside powers. Thus, Iran inevitably has a full plate to deal with when it comes to its national security and foreign relations.
(To be continued)