Iran's 'Near-Abroad' Hegemony

Iran is building international ties on an economic and diplomatic level, mainly in North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia, in order to establish a 'Near-Abroad Hegemony.'

The following examples illustrate Iran's efforts to build international ties on an economic and diplomatic level, mainly in North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia.

The Reut Institute contends that these efforts are a part of an Iranian strategy that uses soft power to build a 'near-abroad' hegemony.

Currently Iran can be defined as a 'regional power' since it holds enough power and influence to have a certain amount of control over its region. However, Iran seeks to build a 'near-abroad' hegemony, stretching from the Middle East to Central Asia, through the Persian Gulf - a zone of influence in which Iran's interests determine the political agenda. For this purpose, Iran is using its 'soft power' through building diplomatic and economic ties.

North Africa and Middle East - Iran is bolstering its relations with neighboring countries in order to earn political recognition, assert its presence and importance in the region, and build its 'near-abroad' hegemony:

  • Iran is holding discussions with Morocco, Turkey and Algeria on how to enhance trade and economic ties.

  • In its strive for political power beyond its own borders, Iran is developing relations with Saudi Arabia, in order to calm regional tensions between Sunnis and Shias.

  • Iran called for organizing a pro-Palestinian movement to "support Palestine and the aspiration to liberate Quds and Al-Aqsa;"

  • Iran is attempting to expand Iran-Iraq ties.

Asia - Iran is exploiting the Asian states' dependency on energy resources in order to acquire those states' support in the international arena. By forging ties with Central Asian states, Iran is strengthening its political status as a 'near-abroad' hegemony:

  • Economically, Iran is developing ties with Kazakhstan, China, India and Pakistan, which are based either on trade or investment in the development of Iran's natural resources.

  • Iran became an "observer state" in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which includes China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. This organization promotes effective cooperation in political affairs, economy and trade.

Sources:

Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), on Morocco (2/7/07), full text.

IRNA, on Turkey (2/20/07), full text.

IRNA, on pro-Palestinian movements (2/6/07), full text.

IRNA, on Iraq (2/5/07), full text.

IRNA, on India (1/24/07), full text.

Iran News, on Pakistan (1/24/07), full text.

Iran News, on Algeria (12/10/06), full text.

Tehran Times, on China (2/14/07), full text.

International Herald Tribune, on Saudi Arabia (5/2/07), full text.

Beehner Lionel, CFR (6/12/06), The Rise of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Full text.

Vali Nasr, CFR (12/12/06), The New Hegemon. Full text.