North Africa’s Ties to Europe Leave Little Room for Iran

North Africa’s Ties to Europe Leave Little Room for Iran
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at a breakfast conference, Madrid, Spain, April 14, 2015 (Casa de America photo).

Earlier this month, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif visited Tunisia and Algeria to discuss strategic ties. In an email interview, Geoff Porter, an assistant professor at West Point’s Combatting Terrorism Center, discussed Iran’s outreach to North Africa.

WPR: How extensive are Iran’s ties with North Africa, and what efforts are underway to expand ties?

Geoff Porter: Iran has limited ties with North Africa. It had no ties with the Gadhafi regime in Libya both before and after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and it has not subsequently reached out to the warring Libyan governments. Relations with Tunisia were minimal, especially after the Islamic Revolution and the Tunisian government’s overtly secular outlook, and they have remained so. Similarly, Morocco kept Iran at arm’s length after the Islamic Revolution, not least because Moroccan King Hassan II feared that he was as vulnerable to revolution as Iran’s Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi. Morocco is a major non-NATO ally of the United States, a status that it carefully guards, and Rabat has never reached out to Tehran.

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