US-Iran tensions: East Asian Perspectives

by Omar Fili

Author: Scott Edwards

Organization/Publisher: Aljazeera Centre for Studies

Date/Place:  February 27, 2020, Doha

Type of Literature: Report     

Number of Pages: 16


Keywords: Far East, Sanctions, Relations Balance.



Iran has had a “look to The East Policy” that prioritizes relations with Asia. These relations commenced after the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Asian countries such as Indonesia and especially Malaysia have had fluctuating relations revolving around economy, which rarely if ever, cross that point. Iran’s general objective was to overcome dependence on Western economic circles and to have ties with the “Asian Tigers.” The Muslim countries of the East have had to contend with religious and political cleavages that emerge as soon as ties cross the lines of economics, and they, like the rest of East Asian countries, have attempted to create a balance as not to draw the ire of other parties – especially the US. Sanctions imposed by America have forced a reality in which Iran is facing increasing isolation as East Asian countries seek neutrality. Even strong rhetoric has not been supported by action; though Mahathir has criticized the assassination of Soleimani, he was unwilling to choose Iran over the Americans or Saudis because of the consequences that could befall Malaysia. Iran also wanted stronger ties with China as to have a counterweight to US pressure, but China only sees Iran as a source of crude oil and does not want to lose its other gains in the Persian Gulf in case it leaned too much on Iran’s side. Seemingly, Iran has uni-dimensional relations with East Asia, as each country looks for its economic well being. As a result, resilient relations that could stand up to challenges are yet to be developed.  


By: Omar Fili, CIGA Research Intern

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