IRAN FOREIGN POLICY: HUMANITARIAN SOFT POWER AND THE SEARCH FOR STATUS IN GHANA
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While each of the dominant literature on Iran foreign policy offers segmented contributions to the Islamic Republic's relations with the outside world - and accordingly present contradictory directions for Iran - African Policy - none of them concurrently encapsulates the growing status of Iran in the West African sub-region, using humanitarian soft power tool. This dissertation, therefore, offers a comprehensive account of the growing status of Iran in West Africa using Ghana as a case study for a rough generalization, through a comprehensive analysis of the post- 1979 Iran's diplomatic onslaught in West Africa and the pragmatic approach which seeks to exert influence over the foreign policy decision making process. This aspect of the dissertation focuses on two main concepts upon which the study traverses: soft power and humanitarianism. A proper understanding of how these two conceptual frameworks interplay is essential for comprehending the fundamental architectural base of Iran foreign policy towards Ghana, particularly, the search to assert its status in the West African country. From the construction and running of schools, to operation of hospitals, to supporting the development of the agricultural sector, the Ahl Bait foundation, the Iranian quasi-government humanitarian institution has ever-present actor in Iran foreign policy towards Ghana; yet the socio-politico impacts of its humanitarian activities on Iran's growing status in Ghana and by extension, West Africa, is yet to be ascertained. Like the undertaking of humanitarian works to attaining soft power, the use of soft power to asserting status has been a constant in Iran foreign policy and international politics as a whole. Far from the criticisms of 'not being too soft' (i.e., not very effective), soft power remains the best option to establishing and asserting a country's status in a particular geographical area of the world - especially when the dominant epistemology, hard power, cannot capture the prevailing reality of the contemporary global political order. The second part of the dissertation analysis the interplay of the Ghanaian executive arm of government, the legislative branch, and civil society organizations (CSOs) in the making and growing of the status of Iran. The chapters that come under this section uses the problem of Iran's search for status in Ghana to define a humanitarian soft power approach to contemporary Iran's foreign policy towards the West African sub-region. The dissertation concludes by locating the form and nature of Iran's humanitarian works in Ghana, reasons for using humanitarian soft power tool without resorting to proxy militant allies as it is the case in the West and Central Asia and recommends further studies on why the humanitarian works of the other Persian Gulf States in Ghana appear the same and, perhaps, even counterproductive in their foreign policy missions.
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