Iran shakes off Western pariah status at BRICS invitation (2023)


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The invitation comes after a year of domestic turmoil and an economic downturn, and after the country turned to Russia and China.

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Iran shakes off Western pariah status at BRICS invitation (1)

go throughFarnaz Fasihi

report from new york

Over the past 12 months, Iran has gone from crisis to crisis.

anduprising led by women and youthCalls to seek an end to clerical rule have resonated across the country. Higher food prices intensifyThe long-term downward spiral of the economy. Violent crackdown by Iranian security forcesabout disagreementsparked widespread outrage overseas. The prospects for a nuclear deal with the US appear to be dimming.

But on Thursday it was unexpectedly announced that the country hadInvited to join the BRICS, a group of emerging economies seeking to counterbalance the dominance of the Western world order. Iranian officials immediately declared victory, boasting of the country's "historic achievements" and speaking of its potential as a trading partner and ideological disruptor of Western hegemony.

Analysts agree it is a political victory for the Islamic Republic after a year of turmoil and a serious crisis of legitimacy at home and abroad.

While joining the BRICS is not expected to help resolve Iran's dire economic problems, experts say the main benefit of joining the group is to show Tehran has strong friends. That could give him leverage in future negotiations with the United States.

"Part of the government's message to the public, externally and internally, is that they're not going anywhere, and that they're endorsed by some of the world's major powers," said senior fellow Henry Roman. Washington Institute for Near East Policy. , a group of experts.

Sasan Karimi, a Tehran-based political analyst, said the recognition was a reward for closer ties with China and Russia. Iran hasDelivering UAVs to Russiabeing used in the war against Ukraine,Evade sanctions, sell discounted oil to China,whoeconomy in trouble

iran is one of themSix countries invited to join the groupat a meeting this week in South Africa; the others are Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. They will join Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, for which the "BRIC" abbreviation was coined.

The invitations underscore the odd nature of this group, democracies and authoritarians alike, which, unless one wishes to reshape the current global financial and governance system into one that is more pluralistic and less politically influenced, will not political coherence. American politics. The power of the dollar.

Iran's inclusion on the guest list comes amid growing geopolitics in the Middle East, with some U.S. allies in the region chafing at their ties to Washington. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are increasingly going their own way on:oil production, the Ukraine War and its relationship with IranSyria

Underscoring the importance of the BRICS activities to Iran, President Ebrahim Raisi, a hard-line cleric who is at home at home for his inability to resolve the growing internal crisis facing Iran, personally traveled to South Africa to accept the invitation. increasingly unpopular.

Lacey said in his speech: "The Islamic Republic of Iran has extraordinary potential and is willing to cooperate on the three pillars of the BRICS countries, political, economic and security."

The economic problems facing Iran will be difficult to solve. Decades of mismanagement and corruption, combined with U.S. sanctions aimed at curbing Iran's nuclear and missile programs and banning the country from international banking and oil sales, have exacerbated Iran's economic collapse.

So-called secondary U.S. sanctions target individuals and entities doing business with Iran, creating another hurdle to the full economic benefits of being a member of a group like BRICS. For example, analysts say Iran is likely to remain unable to secure loans from the development bank set up by the BRICS nations.


The invitation to join the BRICS was the culmination of months of Iranian diplomacy. Iran holds the world's second-largest natural gas reserves after Russia and a quarter of the Middle East's oil reserves and is considered a regional state. A powerhouse competing with Saudi Arabia.

IranHe restored diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia.After years of hostility between the two countries, in an agreementChinese medium; join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a Chinese-led regional organization; reachprisoner exchange agreementCooperate with the United States to recover $6 billion in funds frozen in South Korea; andInformal agreement with the United Statesaimed at easing tensions between the two countries.

"When you add it all up, in a broader perspective, Iran is certainly not as isolated as it was a year ago," said Rome of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

For Iran, the pivot to the East was partly due to former President Donald J. Trump's 2018 decision toGet the U.S. out of the nuclear dealThe Obama administration struck a deal with Iran three years ago — even though Tehran fully complied with it — and imposed sanctions. European companies doing business in Iran leave the country.

Subsequently, the Iranian government stated that it could no longer trust or rely on the West to develop its economy, and changed its policy to extend a helping hand to Russia and China. returnaccelerate its nuclear programIts levels far exceed those agreed in the agreement.

In 2021, Iran and China signedComprehensive Economic and Security ProtocolsUnder the deal, China agreed to invest $400 billion in Iran over 25 years in exchange for a steady supply of cheap Iranian oil, which helps keep its economy afloat. In June, the commodities data provider said Iran was selling about 1.6 million barrels a day of oil (a level last reached in 2018, when the nuclear deal was still in place), with China as its biggest customer.

Iran, Russia also haveForge closer military and security ties,That power has grown even stronger after Iran became one of the few countries backing Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Iran has provided Russia with drones that the Kremlin has used to attack Ukraine, and top Iranian military commanders have made frequent trips to Moscow. The United States said in April that it had information that Iran was helping Russia.Build a drone manufacturing companyEast of Moscow, it may be operational next year.


Iran has also diversified its economy away from oil and increased trade with other countries. For example, before the planned expansion, Iran's non-oil trade among the five members of the BRICS bloc rose 14% to $38.43 billion in the 2022-23 fiscal year, according to Iranian news reports citing official customs data.

"These major foreign policy successes did not improve the domestic situation, but they did give Iran leverage over the United States," said Karimi, an analyst in Tehran. Break it down and go into negotiations with renewed confidence and challenge the Americans."

While Iran has resorted to diplomacy to boost its image abroad, infighting continues between a people seeking greater freedom and a government bent on repressing them.

First AnniversaryDeath of young woman Mahsa AminiThe morale police detention facility that sparked the uprising is approaching mid-September, and activists say they will mark the occasion with more protests and acts of civil disobedience. The judiciary has warned protesters will be severely punished, and security forces have launched a broad crackdown on women's rights activists, students, dissidents and relatives of those killed in the protests.

Many Iranians and activists see recent efforts by some countries to court Iran as a blow to their aspirations for democratic change.

Gissou Nia, a human rights lawyer at the Atlantic Council in Washington who has researched extensively on Iran, said the timing of a diplomatic overture to Iran, particularly BRICS members, “will certainly be through financial support.” to prolong the regime's livelihood.

"The biggest loser in all of this is the Iranian people, who feel they are not represented and supported by an unelected head of state and an irresponsible government," Niya said.

Farnaz FasihiShe is a reporter for The New York Times in New York. She previously served 17 years as a senior staff writer and war correspondent for The Wall Street Journal in the Middle East. About Farnaz Fasihi

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