Throughout his tour, the Iranian President signed approximately 21 cooperation agreements, aligning with Iran’s foreign policy of strengthening relations with friendly nations that share similar values. This approach, Iran says, reflects their commitment to South-South cooperation, trade partnerships, and regional integration in the long term.
President Raisi’s three-leg journey included meetings and negotiations with the Presidents of the respective African nations. This historic visit stands out as the first by an Iranian president in over a decade.
The tour commenced with a warm reception from Kenyan President William Ruto, who expressed the potential for increased trade between the two countries. President Ruto highlighted the opportunity for higher exports of tea, coffee, and meat, aiming to achieve a more balanced trade relationship that favours Iran. As both countries occupy strategic positions as key gateways to their respective regions, the establishment of the Iran House of Innovation and Technology in Nairobi was seen as a platform for mutual business opportunities, facilitating access to Iranian technologies, skills, and information for the prosperity of both nations.
President Raisi announced that more Iranian companies would establish operations in Kenya, enabling access to regional markets such as the East African Community (EAC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which collectively encompass a market of over 1.4 billion people.
The African tour concluded with a meeting with Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa who welcomed him as a “brother” and resulting in the signing of 12 agreements aimed at enhancing bilateral trade and cooperation. He also met with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni during the second leg of his regional trip to Africa, further solidifying diplomatic ties between Iran and Uganda.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has been actively engaged in diplomatic affairs throughout the year, starting in China in February, signing some 20 agreements. President Xi Jinping expressed commitments to bolster security and economic cooperation between the two nations. Importantly, and as was widely reported, China brokered Iran’s re-establishment of diplomatic relations with regional rival Saudi Arabia.
In May, Raisi visited Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, a close regional ally, and solidified their alliance through the signing of long-term cooperation agreements. Subsequently, Raisi travelled to Indonesia, aiming to strengthen various aspects of relations with the largest economy in Southeast Asia, including political, economic, commercial, cultural, and civilizational ties.
In the previous month, the Iranian president embarked on a tour of Latin America, visiting Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua. These nations, like Iran, face economic sanctions imposed by the United States.
Sanctions on Iran, primarily led by the United States, have been in effect for decades in some shape or form, and are primarily aimed at pressuring Iran to address concerns related to its nuclear programme, human rights issues, regional influence, and support for extremist groups. But as the West continues to isolate Iran, Raisi’s visits to the Global South show there are other routes, and countries to turn to in times of need and many a country all too willing to seek alternatives in return.