Exploring President Rouhani’s Foreign Policy Doctrine 2013–2017

  • Mahdi AhouieEmail author
Part of the Contemporary Gulf Studies book series (CGS)


In this chapter, President Hassan Rouhani’s conceptual approach to foreign policy will be studied. The purpose is to answer the question whether Rouhani ever succeeded to introduce and adopt a concrete foreign policy doctrine during his first term in office. We begin with a short comparison between Rouhani and previous presidents since 1989. Unlike the two presidents that preceded him, Rouhani does not believe or advocate any utopianist doctrine in his foreign policy. He seems to be a mere “pragmatist” politician who was elected to office with one, and only one, major mandate: to put an end to Iran’s decade-long nuclear dispute with the big powers. Rouhani’s foreign policy in his first term in office can be called a “project-based” foreign policy with the single aim of concluding Iran’s nuclear negotiations. It is then widely distinct from Ahmadinejad’s or Khatami’s “value-based” foreign policies with universalist agendas, albeit opposite ones. In following a pragmatic path, however, Rouhani falls short behind former President Rafsanjani, who used pragmatism as a quasi-revolutionary tool to push Iranian foreign policy forward as a whole. Despite having a strong conceptual basis, Rouhani’s motto of “constructive interaction with the world” hardly found any grounds for realization in Iran’s regional policy, and failed to bring about any major elevation in Iran–United States bilateral relations.


Hassan Rouhani Foreign policy doctrine Pragmatism Constructive Engagement Nuclear Deal 


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© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of TehranTehranIran

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