KARACHI: Iran’s position in the region following the recent lifting of sanctions and its role in the fight against the Islamic State was discussed at length by Dr Clement Therme, a research fellow at the School for Advanced Studies in Social Sciences, France, during a seminar on Wednesday.
He was delivering a lecture on ‘The Iran-Russia Entente: Marriage of Convenience or Strategic Partnership’ organised by the Area Study Centre for Europe, Karachi University, in collaboration with the Karachi Council on Foreign Relations under the Open Doors by Alliance française de Karachi at Marriott hotel.
According to Therme, Iran emerged from years of economic isolation recently when the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog ruled it had curbed its nuclear programme and cleared the way for the lifting of international sanctions.
Therme further said that lifting of sanctions on Iran is progressive and slow. Iran may become an important regional ally and economic partner of the West following the lifting of sanctions, but this will not affect its interests in the East, especially its partnership with Russia.
Therme said the rise of the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) in the Middle East has helped the West realise the importance of Iran and its potential to become a partner in the war against the militant outfit.
“Europe places a top priority on fighting [ISIS] after the Paris attacks as security is [the] priority of each state,” said Therme. He was replying to a question about the heavy funding that ISIS receives and uses in buying arms and ammunitions.
Earlier, fighting ISIS was not Europe’s priority, he admitted, saying he did not know where ISIS gets funds from.
Retired ambassador Shahid Amin said that Russia and Iran are neighbouring states but their relations never remained smooth. After the dismemberment of the Soviet Union, the relations between both the countries revived to their pre-Islamic revolution level. Both the countries also have difficult relations with the US.
“Pakistan has deep interest in what is happening in Iran because it is our neighbouring country and whatever happens in Iran has bearing on Pakistan,” said Amin.
Dr Uzma Shujaat, the director of the Area Study Centre for Europe, said Russia played an important role in lifting sanctions from Tehran and it is expected that their relationship will grow further.
Ahsan Mukhtar Zubairi discussed the performance of the Karachi Council on Foreign Relations in the last 13 years.
The lecture was followed by a question-answer session. A large number of students and members of the diplomatic community attended the lecture.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 29th, 2016.