The online meeting of Iran and Tunisia, entitled “Iran and Tunisia; Enhancement of Bilateral and Regional Ties” was held on Wednesday, September 2, 2020, under the auspices of the Institute for Political and International Studies (IPIS) and the Centre for Strategic and Diplomatic Studies (CSDS) of Tunisia. The speakers at the webinar were Seyed Mohammad Kazem Sajjadpoor, president of the IPIS; Seyyed Majid Ghafelebashi, IPIS vice-president for research; Mojtaba Ferdowsipoor and Mohammad Nikkhah, senior fellows at the IPIS; Sabah Zanganeh, senior fellow at the IPIS; Kayhan Barzegar, director of the Center for Middle East Strategic Studies and Scientific Research; Rafiq Abdel Salam, former foreign minister of Tunisia; Belgacem Hassen, member of the Tunisian Parliament; Al-Ajmi Al-Wurimi, member of the Executive Office of the Ennahda Movement; Kamal Al-Seid, Program Director at the CSDS; and Ali Al-Lafi, a religious advisor to Tunisia’s Minister of Religious Affairs.
The first part of the webinar revolved around the world affected by the coronavirus pandemic and its impacts on the bilateral relations between Iran and Tunisia. Participants in the second part of the panel discussion, whose theme was regional subjects with the focus on West Asia and North Africa, answered the following questions: 1) How will the post-coronavirus world look and what are the future prospects and possible scenarios for the globe? 2) What is the latest status of bilateral ties between Iran and Tunisia? What are the possible scenarios ahead? 3) What are main opportunities and challenges in the bilateral relations? 4) What are the latest developments in Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Libya? 5) What are the impacts of the agreement between the United Arab Emirates and the Israeli regime on the future developments in the West Asia and North Africa? 6) What is the prospect for the peace process in the occupied territories considering the Israeli plan for illegal annexation of the West Bank?
The main discussions held in the meeting were as follows:
The outbreak of COVID-19 is the major challenge that many nation-states are facing in the current circumstances. The problems caused by the crisis have led to instability in the political, economic and social spheres, aggravating the pre-coronavirus troubles of the countries. Strategically, the outbreak of coronavirus has not had a considerable impact on the international system in the short term, but we may see geopolitical changes in many regions in future. The outbreak of coronavirus pandemic had a destructive effect on the interaction between Iran and Tunisia as two major and influential countries in West Asia and North Africa, and on the international relations in the other regions.
As two Muslim nations, Iran and Tunisia have much in common. The two countries have held historical, civilizational and cultural ties, while there is similarity between the fiqh theories developed by Muhammad al-Tahir ibn Ashur and Imam Khomeini. The decolonization movements in the two countries are alike, and they share views on the regional and international developments, particularly on the fight against extremist terrorism and Zionist state-sponsored terrorism as well as the condemnation of normalization of ties with the Zionist enemy. Paying attention to the commonalities could pave the way for the promotion of bilateral relations. In order to expand the bilateral relations, Iran and Tunisia can continue to provide reciprocal services in the cultural and trade arenas and cooperate in other fields such as plans to tap into Iran’s scientific potential and modern technologies for industrialization of Tunisia. Considering the location and position of the two countries in the Persian Gulf, the Sea of Oman and the Mediterranean Sea, they can work on plans to allow Iran to have access to Africa and Europe via Tunisia. It is also necessary to exploit the economic and trade potential of the two countries in order to maintain the relations. Considering the development processes that would take place through purposeful interactions with Africa in future, Tunisia calls for Iran’s active partnership in Africa and is prepared for cooperation with Iran.
The Islamic Republic of Iran has played a prominent role in addressing the regional crises, specifically in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, in the fight against extremist terrorism. Iran has always paid special attention to diplomatic and peaceful approaches to the settlement of crises. Iran rejects war as a solution to disputes in Libya, and emphasizes the need for political solution and internal dialogue to settle the crisis.