Iran’s President Rouhani has started an official Africa tour to boost trade and consolidate regional alliances in the face of crippling US sanctions. Ahead of the tour, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Rouhani will visit Algeria, Ethiopia, Guinea, and Mali and is expected to sign deals to strengthen diplomatic, political, and economic ties between the countries.
The move is seen as a direct response to the US’ new sanctions on Iran, which have exacerbated the financial crisis in the country and dealt a major blow to its economy. The sanctions have drastically reduced Iran’s oil exports, cutting vital government revenues and reducing money available for imports of essential goods.
Rouhani’s visit to Africa offers Iran an opportunity to build new markets and alternatives to its reliance on the US. It is expected to help ease some of the economic strain caused by the US sanctions and would also be an important political move, as it could solidify Iran’s relations with a number of countries in the region.