عنوان مقاله [English]
Introduction: Foreign policy is affected by various political components of transition from decision making to implementation of decisions. This process should be proportional to the countries’ sources of foreign policy, as well as obtaining feedback. According to this conceptualization, Iran’s relations with Tajikistan have moved from activeness to a period of stagnation and passivity since 2010. In the first period, the Islamic Republic of Iran has undergone an active process of strategic instrument-making (as a political component). However, this process has not been stable. The incidents of September 2015, banning the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT) and at the same time accusing Iran of supporting a coup in Tajikistan stopped the process of convergence in the two Persian-speaking countries. In the second period, conversely, slowing down the political advantages and instrument-making process and neutralizing Iran’s foreign policy instruments in Tajikistan has taken place. This period started in 2015 and peaked in 2018, while Saudi relations with Tajikistan were the warmest it had been since independence. However, Iran and Tajikistan have started a new era of reviving relations through a convergence process. Stabilizing the process is now a common question for both states.
Research Question: This paper aims to answer the question: Despite the revival of relations beginning in 2019, how will the transition of relations between the two countries from divergence to a stable process of convergence take place from the perspective of political components such as foreign policy tools?
Research Hypothesis: In response, the hypothesis that this article puts forward is that the process of reviving foreign policy components and instruments could be achieved through discourse, legal, and political context of the Tajik Peace Accord; starting from economics, culture, politics, and ultimately a security-political framework to resolve the issue of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan.
Methodology (and Theoretical Framework if there are): The paper uses a qualitative method to analyze the transition of Iran-Tajikistan relations from divergence to stability in convergence. The theoretical-conceptual framework has been based on concepts such as foreign policy instruments and instrument-making and instrumentalization in foreign policy. The data are collected based on library resources and published archives and analyzed based on the theoretical and conceptual framework presented.
Results and discussion: Iran and Tajikistan have started a thaw in relations since 2019, while the key issues remain. Despite Iran not hosting the IRPT leaders and members anymore since 2016, the party situation in Europe was still a significant obstacle in the Tajik-Iranian relations. However, the two governments, considering the increasing costs of sour relations and in favor of new plans in their foreign and domestic politics such as the power shift in Tajikistan and Iran’s pivot to the East, as well as the escalation of the crisis in Afghanistan, more determined to ignore the remaining issues temporarily. However, the process of reviving the relations since 2019 has not been stable. In the short period of 2019 to 2021, the relations have had many ups and downs; from bilateral meetings of high-ranking officials to summoning the ambassadors and conveying harsh criticism. In this regard, first, the Islamic Republic of Iran should start reviving the old instruments or creating new ones based on mutual interests while considering the sensitivities. Starting to recover from trade and economic relations is a serious and sensible step for Tehran. However, along with this process, a political guarantee mechanism must be devised to reduce the risk of trade and investment to influence and improve trade. At the same time, restoring Iran's cultural perspective in Tajikistan is also a vital area of this process. It could be pursued through the axis of Persian-speaking countries focusing on cooperation in the Afghan peace process, reopening Iranian cultural centers and establishing new institutions, developing cultural interactions of Iranian-Tajik elites, and in brief, applying a promoted cultural diplomacy. This could upgrade and recover the image of Iran in Tajikistan's public opinion, complementing economic and trade ties. However, this trend also requires the development of political relations at the macro level. At a higher level, the revival of political relations through the activation of bilateral and multilateral political mechanisms is another requirement for overcoming the recession. In this regard, increasing political interactions and meetings between high-ranking officials of the two countries, especially at the level of presidents, should be on the agenda. Furthermore, joint alignments on regional and international issues can provide the Islamic Republic of Iran with a level of political convergence as a foreign policy instrument. Among these issues are the political and bilateral consultations between Tehran and Dushanbe on the future of security and stability in Afghanistan. Finally, at the highest level, Tehran should present a comprehensive and precise multilateral political and security platform to resolve the issue of the IRPT permanently. Russia is a significant player in this proposed multilateral framework, and the legal, political, and discourse context can be reconciled with the 1997 Peace Accord.
Conclusion: For stabilizing the convergence process in the bilateral relations between Iran and Tajikistan, Iran should pay special attention to the revival of its foreign policy instruments. In this regard, finding a permanent solution or at least a stable situation for the issue of IRPT with Tajikistan is a crucial point. However, this process cannot be a short-term goal, but a result process based on less sensitive and indirect processes such as economic and cultural convergence. On a higher level, the cooperation and coordination on the issue of Afghanistan is another influential factor that can affect the process. Ultimately, when a certain level of trust is achieved on mentioned subjects, creating a multilateral framework (especially with Russia) for the permanent solution or a stable situation of IRPT issue could be achieved. The instrument making and instrumentalization in foreign policy should be under attention through all these processes. The final results can also affect Iran’s active role in Central Asia.