Iran and the Eurasian Transport Initiatives: Short-term Challenges, Long-term Opportunities

Being at the junction of several major geopolitical regions, i.e., the Middle East, the South Caucasus, Central Asia, and South Asia, along with access to the high seas of the Persian Gulf and Oman Sea, has long created a special geopolitical status for Iran. Accordingly, throughout the course of history Iran has always been at the center of east–west and north–south trade routes. Considering this critical characteristic, reviving Iran's position in the sphere of international transit and transport is now being taken into account by the Iranian leaders as a serious option for guaranteeing the country’s economic growth and development. This article tries to study the place of Iran in two important Eurasian transport initiatives, namely the Chinese-led Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the International North–South Transport Corridor (INSTC). The article shows that, despite the priority of economic objectives, Iran's approach to this issue encompasses a wide range of economic, diplomatic, and geopolitical goals. The success of these two initiatives with the participation of Iran could also bear significant positive implications for the countries of the South Caucasus.

Authors: Hamidreza Azizi