GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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The GCC, Iran and Latin America: A trilateral foreign policy approach
Paper Proposal Text :
In this paper we analyze the main issues that form the Latin American foreign policy agenda toward the Gulf countries and the potentials of this relationship.
We will consider the Latin American countries foreign policy toward GCC and, in the other hand, the foreign policy toward Iran.
We consider that the economic dimension is the main interest from the Latin American perspective, since these countries seek for new and non traditional markets. As an example, we intend to analyze the recently established South American and Arab Countries (ASPA) forum that emerged in 2005. It is a framework that includes two new issues besides the traditional political approach: economics and culture but its final impact has yet to be seen.
Latin American decision-makers consider, in a quite simplistic view, that it is possible to take advance of the Arab Diaspora (mainly from Lebanon, Syria and Palestine) in the region in order to increase the cultural and also, economic relationships between Arabs (considered as a whole) and their region.
As the Latin American states - with the exception of Brazil - does not intent to become `global players´, few political objectives that are part of their core foreign policy agendas have to do with the GCC.
Meanwhile, from the GCC countries perspective, Latin America is a peripheral region with no special interest, not even in economical terms if we bear in mind the importance of those countries into the general trade statistics of those six Arab states.
Considering this lack of relations and based on its own agenda, Tehran intended to fill the vacuum and began a very active policy during Ahmadineyad´s presidency trying to gain influence in Latin America, or at least in certain countries. Much was done with the ALBA member states (Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Cuba) and a very interesting (now eroding) relationship was built with Brazil. The Argentinean-Iranian relationship will not be considered mainly due to the political and legal issues involved that fled from any theoretical approach.
Regarding Brazil, one of the most important economies in the world and a BRIC country, the reasons behind the Iranian interest are obvious. On the other hand, Iran tried to occupy the `American backyard´ and flirted with the ALBA countries by promising economical and technological cooperation.
On the other hand, the ALBA countries, were seduced by a rhetorical anti-Americanism that played an important role in their relationships with Iran. Brazil, especially during Lula presidency, could not escape the temptation to include an international big issue and an important trade partner, as Iran, into its agenda.
In this paper we will compare those foreign policies (Iran and the Arab GCC countries toward Latin America and vice versa) during the last decade in order to draw some conclusions and to identify good practices or areas where the planned objectives were achieved.
Finally, we suggest that even though Iran succeeded in framing and implementing a comprehensive foreign policy toward Latin America, it failed in establishing long term relations due to the strong identification with certain administrations and not with the states themselves.
Neither Latin American countries nor the GCC member states generated any general foreign policy toward the other partner region.
This study can give as a base to affirm that a structured bilateral foreign policy between Latin America and the Arab Gulf countries could build a common beneficial relationship. We argue that it exists an interest in Latin America to improve the contacts with what we can call non-traditional partners and, from the Arab Gulf countries point of view, they should remember that not considering Latin America is the worst policy since Tehran will not cease its efforts to increase its presence in the region.