By Dr. Ibrahim Matar
IRAN has sought to impose hegemony and control over the Horn of Africa region as a major branch of their foreign policy since the Revolution.
The administration is hoping to obtain a foothold at the entrance to the Red Sea and establishing military bases for it in the region.
This requires Iran to adopt all diplomatic, economic and cultural means and tools in order to achieve that goal.
However, the achievement of this primary and overall goal will not be achieved in reality, except through some partial goals that form and unite together to achieve Iranian hegemony in the Horn of Africa.
Politically, Iran is hoping to form an axis hostile to the West under its banner from the third world countries, in an effort to reduce Western and American influence in the region in its favour. Iran also aims to get out of the Western international isolation that was imposed on it because of its nuclear program.
Iran also seeks to obtain the loyalty of these countries, and then their support in international forums and organizations such as the United Nations. In addition, Iran aspires to control international waterways in order to inflict the greatest losses on the West by imposing control on the Bab al-Mandab Strait.
Such a move will make it imperative for adversaries to turn to the Cape of Good Hope instead of the Strait, as the Bab al-Mandab Strait is currently the most important international waterway for commercial ships carrying oil, as about 3.5 million barrels of oil cross the strait daily.
Accordingly, a conflict could be ignited over energy supplies in the future, and thus Iran aspires to control the strait in order to gain new pressure cards on their competitors alike, which enables it to bargain with these pressure cards in many files in the Middle East and the whole world.
Iran also has vital economic opportunities and interests in the Horn of Africa in the future, and this is evident in the context of a clear African desire to benefit from Iranian aid and expertise in the technology and oil sectors, in addition to the desire of African countries to obtain Iranian expertise in the military field.
Estimates of the Iranian side of the added value that it will accrue from the Horn of Africa, on top of which is the support of African countries for Iran’s right to develop its nuclear project.
It is noted that this mechanism has emerged on the scene within the Horn of Africa after the Iranian-Djiboutian summit between the presidents of the two countries, which ended with the signing of a memorandum of understanding for joint cooperation, which included building training centers, exemption from entry visas for the citizens of the two countries, in addition to granting loans to the Iranian bank.
To the Central Bank of Djibouti, and to provide scholarships for students with the aim of studying in Iranian universities.
Tehran’s adversaries have already warned of their growing influence in the region – but for Iran, the strategic goals are too important to give up.
Featured Image: Stuart Rankin@ Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
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