Relations between Iran and Africa were stepped up under Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s (1941-1979) rule. As the Cold War raged on in the 1970s, the Shah, allied with the West, hoped to stem the spread of communism in the recently decolonised continent. Pahlavi thus broadened Iran’s ties with a number of African countries, including Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and South Africa.
Benefiting from the first oil shock and looking to expand its influence, Iran provided financial and economic assistance to Ethiopia, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan and Zaire. “Africa was however just one aspect of the Pahlavi regime’s foreign policy and not a priority,” says Clément Therme, a post-doctoral research fellow at Sciences Po Paris and an Iran expert.