Written by: Mohamed Odeh Al-Agha – Researcher in Regional Affairs
- Arab Democratic Center
Every political unit in the international system has a unique appearance and behavior. Because of its geographical location – in addition to other factors related to the political system, demographic makeup and others – and this causes the great discrepancy between political units in the constituents of power that they possess, and determines the nature of international relations, and the role that each unit plays on the stage of political life regionally and internationally.
As for Iran, it belongs to the category of countries with regional ambitions, which are countries whose total capabilities (such as location, size, resources and knowledge) do not qualify them to play at the global level, but they possess regional ambition and capabilities.
Since Iran’s emergence as a political unit, its foreign policy has been linked to the nature of the geographical position it occupies; Because its position places it in contact with Arab and Islamic countries, which have political, economic and strategic weight.
Considering Iran’s position in relation to neighboring countries, we find that there are two main geographical circles that constitute the focus of Iranian interest regionally, the first is represented by the countries of the South Caucasus, located north of Iran, and the second consists of the Arab Gulf states, located to the south, and the importance of these two areas for Iran is because of what they possess. From a sectarian cultural extension exemplified by the Shiite sect, economic wealth represented in oil and natural gas reserves, and geostrategic elements of interest to the entire world, which make movement in them subject to very accurate calculations.
South Caucasus countries:
The Iranian policy towards the South Caucasus region was influenced by several political, economic and security considerations. Eberan was able to build distinguished relations with the countries of the region, especially with Armenia, which expanded its relations and cooperation with it until it reached the stage of partnership in many fields, in contrast to the relationship with Azerbaijan, which was characterized by In most stages, tension and instability; Because of the issues and problems between them, especially the issue of sharing the wealth of the Caspian Sea, and the Azerbaijani minority in Iran, despite this, Iran sought to open up to Azerbaijan with the aim of investing its oil wealth.
Iran’s relations with the countries of the South Caucasus have been affected by regional and international competition and the struggle for influence, attempts to dominate and obtain the largest economic investment projects in this region, and the recent Azerbaijani-Armenian military conflict is perhaps the most prominent example of Iran’s stances and policies towards the region.
The importance of the South Caucasus region lies in Iran’s desire to enhance its economic interests, create markets for Iranian exports, enhance regional security and stability, and prevent conflicts of an ethnic dimension that will affect Iran’s internal security and stability.
Iran sees in weaving relations with the countries of the South Caucasus a way out of the political isolation imposed on it and a room for action and to prove its status and its ability to conduct political and diplomatic work abroad.
The Arab Gulf region:
The Arab Gulf region has acquired distinct geostrategic importance since long historical stages at all levels, which kept it always affected by rapid international changes. Therefore, we find that the Iranian sentiment is linked to the Arab Gulf, because of the strategic value it represents for the world, and the Iranian trend towards the Gulf has been supported through The geostrategic view of the Strait of Hormuz and the length of the Iranian coast facing the Gulf, and this explains the Iranian control of the three Emirati islands (Greater Tombs, Lesser Tombs, and Abu Musa Island) close to the Strait of Hormuz, which represent a great strategic value. In addition, Iran shares with Qatar in the The “North” gas field, which is a great economic wealth.
Iran sees the Gulf region as the broadest gateway to obtaining international prestige. Iran has repeatedly proven that it has the ability to influence the course of events in the Gulf region, threatening Western interests by closing the Strait of Hormuz and threatening to use missile military capabilities against vital centers, especially oil installations.
Iran forced the international community to accept sitting with it in negotiations over its nuclear program, which led to the signing of an agreement in which Iran undertakes obligations regarding its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of sanctions. These obligations did not stipulate a cessation of the nuclear program, but rather its continuation in a manner that does not lead to the development of nuclear weapons, This agreement would not have been possible without the Iranian foreign policy’s ability to exploit its geostrategic position overlooking the Arab Gulf region, as it has repeatedly proven that it has a great deal of influence in the course of events, especially since the impact of its movements extended through the Arab Gulf region to reach several vital areas in Yemen, Syria and Lebanon. .
Despite the Iranian interest in the geographical neighborhood, it also paid attention to the areas of influence and influence, which are related to its national security, so it made the entire Islamic world among its priorities, with the aim of breaking the economic and political isolation that was imposed on it, especially after the success of the Iranian revolution to topple the rule of the Shah, and the emergence of the Iranian ambition that Western exclusivity threatened to exploit the region’s wealth.
That is why Iran sought, in its project, to extract a regional role that Iran truly deems for it, from the hand of the United States of America, the sole and influential global pole in the Middle East region, by taking advantage of the absence of the Arab regional project, and American policy floundering in the region’s accounts, as Iran presents a new example in the system of relations International Council on how regional power grabbed a role that suits it without seeking refuge in its aspirations for a superpower.