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Iran: the eternal geopolitical empire

15 3 0

A current has swept throughout the Levant from a subtly-felt but well recognised influence. From the protests in Iraq and Lebanon to the Sunni insurgents and opposition groups in Syria, public dissatisfaction with the direct and indirect interference of Iran in the region has been exposed. This influence may not be the sole reason for the protests and insurgency, but it is a core factor.

Iran’s influence lies not only in its Shi’ism or revolutionary stance, but also in its rarely recognised geopolitics. In recent years, there has been acknowledgement of the extent to which many political situations are linked to geopolitical factors, and Iranian influence and power projection is no exception. It is Iran’s geopolitical roll of the dice which primarily determines its foreign policy objectives, defensibility and need for regional influence.

To the north of Iran stand the Alborz Mountains overlooking the Caspian Sea and stretching all the way to the east of the country, forming a natural defensive barrier against Pakistan and Afghanistan. To the south is the strategic port of Bandar Abbas on the Persian Gulf, while the land known as Khuzestan, with its primarily Arab population, adjoins Iraq at the head of the gulf. The centre of the country contains the Lut and Kavir Deserts, making it largely uninhabitable except at the edges where Tehran and Qom are situated. The real challenge comes, however, when you look at the west of Iran where the impenetrable Zagros Mountains stretch over into Iraq and south-east Turkey.

Iran has mountains around most of its borders, surrounding a desert region, with limited habitable areas accessible by transport, making for largely rough terrain. However rough the country’s topography is, though, a key benefit is that it has........

© Middle East Monitor