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Iranian president 3-nation trip to Africa: What stakes?

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi waves to media and officials as he boards his plane to attend the UN General Assembly in New York meeting on Sept. 19, 2022.   -  
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Vahid Salemi/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved.


**Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi will reportedly kick off his African tour on Wednesday (Jul. 12). Kenya's foreign ministry said that the visit had been delayed for key memoranda of understanding to be finalized.

The statement said presidents Ruto and Raïssi would have a bilateral meeting.

Iran seeks to boost economic and political ties with Kenya, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.

Middle East senior expert Kamiar Babak, broke down for Africanews the stakes of this African outreach.

"Since the United States unilaterally abandoned the nuclear deal in 2018 (JCPoA), Teheran has been looking to diversify its relationships. So looking at the potential in these three African countries in particular, and the volume of the African market in general, this really seems promising.

In recent months, Iran has stepped up its diplomacy. If the signature of deals is anticipated for the first trip to Africa by an Iranian leader in 11 years, sanctions on the middle eastern nation remain a problem, a stumbling block even.

"Some agreements [will surely] be signed, but the most important thing is how this kind of agreement can be in the next two years be fruitful for both nations, for both sides," Babak said.

"Let's see to what extent we can expect this kind of relationship to work, in presence of US sanctions."

“If Western sanctions remain in place and Teheran has the unsolved problem with FATF [Editor's Note: Financial Action Task Force], if there is no way [within] the SWIFT banking system, I am not sure how an agreement between Iran and another state can be fruitful," the Middle East senior expert analyzed. 

"The real issue is the problem between Iran and the big powers, the Western powers, that include the US."

The war in Ukraine has also been a major blow to Iran. Accusations that Teheran could be siding with Russia has alienated Iran the support of potential European partners. 

The Iranian delegation will therefore include senior businesspeople in addition to officials such as the Foreign Minister.

"After the supporting of the president Putin directly or indirectly during the Ukrainian war, the Iranian economy, the Iranian currency dropped down." 

"This [Editor's Note: the African tour] is one way to find a way, this time in Africa. Yesterday it was a tour in South America, tomorrow maybe it'll be other African countries."

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman described the African tour as "a new turning point"

In March, Tehran agreed to restore ties with regional rival Saudi Arabia under a China-mediated deal. Iran's president also travelled to Indonesia before undertaking a Latin American tour that included Venezuela last June.