New Beginning for Iran as President Raisi Sets Foot in Africa for Three-Country Tour
Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi has embarked on a three-country tour in Africa to deepen relations amid heavy U.S. economic sanctions. The ongoing sanctions have had significant deleterious impacts on the country’s economic performance.
Raisi’s three-country tour to Kenya, Uganda and Zimbabwe is the first by an Iranian president in more than a decade. It highlights Iran’s efforts to diversify economic ties. Nasser Kanani, Iran’s Foreign Ministry, described the trip as significant, a new turning point that could boost economic and trade ties with African nations.
Continent of Opportunities
The Iranian president highlighted Africa as a “continent of opportunities”, and a great platform for Iranian products. Kenyan President William Ruto welcomed Raisi and called Iran a “critical strategic partner”, and a “global innovation powerhouse”. He said Kenya is interested in expanding agricultural exports, beyond tea, to Iran and Central Asia
Ruto said Kenya and Iran have signed five MoUs, focusing on areas such as fisheries, information technology, and investment promotion. He believes the MoUs will enhance and further deepen bilateral relations for sustainable growth and development between the two countries. The Kenyan president also revealed that Iran wants to set up a plant in Mombasa to manufacture an indigenous Iranian vehicle, named “Kifaru” – meaning rhino.
Diplomacy and Bilateral Relations
As of late, Iran has been restoring and building bilateral relations. Tehran restored relations with Saudi Arabia in March, re-established ties with Egypt and Morocco. In May, Iran deepened economic ties with Indonesia and in June, with Latin American countries – Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua. Last week, Raisi boosted ties with Algeria.
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Iran is also trying to rise above domestic protests and human rights issues that have been plaguing the country for more than a year now. Raisi may be trying to reach out to the Iranians who have little confidence in his leadership to address the issues that matter to them and the country.