In Search of a Foothold in Africa

31 January 2012 | 15:47 Code : 1897477 Interview
Could the Iranian delegation’s attendance in the African Summit be a new chapter in Tehran's African politics? Interview with Ja’far Qannadbashi.
In Search of a Foothold in Africa

IRD: In the wake of the controversy over alleged Iranian arms smuggling in Africa which engendered tension between Iran and Senegal, Gambia and Nigeria, it is the first time that Africa hosts a high-ranking delegation from Iran, headed by the Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Salehi. We have interviewed with Seyyed Ja’far Qannadbashi, African affairs’ analyst on the future of Iran-Africa relations:


IRD: This is the first time Salehi is heading a high-ranking delegation to Africa to attend the African Summit following the North African upheavals. How do you evaluate his visit?


SQ: Iran is following a clear strategy in Africa. A considerable collection of the continent have accepted Iran as their strategic ally. Iran has achieved a special place which is coveted by many of the industrial countries. The 21st century belongs to Africa due to the needs of the industrial world to merge the African economy with the global economy to use its raw material and emerging markets. Iran is well equipped with industrial and engineering capabilities of which Africa is in urgent need. In the political arena, the US’ unilateralism, domination of capitalism after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and collapse of the bipolar order, have made African countries weary of the West’s inexhaustible efforts to re-colonize the continent. Africans are politically in need of collaboration with independent powers capable of stabilizing their position in the power hierarchy. Iran can be this reliable power through which the independence of Africa is preserved.


IRD: How can Salehi’s visit affect African politics?


SQ: The African governments believe that friendship with Iran can curb Western influence on the one hand, and increase their popularity between their citizens on the other, due to the anti-Israel and anti-colonialism positions adopted by Tehran. African dictatorships ruled by the West’s puppets do not tend to have any ties with Iran and does not share any common interests. They are worried about Iran’s presence in Africa thinking that Tehran's agenda could be a probable motive for popular upheavals.