The International Institute for Iranian Studies (Rasanah) has recently published “Iranian Frontier Regions and Geopolitical Circles” by Dr. Yahya Bouzeidi. This 274-page book includes an explanation of how political borders form the boundaries of sovereignty between states. At these boundaries, one state’s internal issues and political and legal systems end, and another state’s begins. The internal dynamics of a state have a profound impact on neighboring countries. This is clearly illustrated by the issue of border disputes in many regions.
The book explores the characteristics of Iran’s frontier regions and their policies at the geographic level in particular, taking into account the role of actors and their influence on the state’s behavior. Moreover, the publication reviews the state’s strengths and weaknesses based on the importance of border regions (with their natural, human, and economic characteristics), highlighting the role of regional powers.
The first chapter deals with the political geography of the Iranian border regions. It studies the physical and economic geography of these regions, exploring the human geography and reviewing their geopolitical importance as regions instead of confining them to borders, specifically the geopolitical perspective that deals with spaces.
The second chapter extrapolates the Iranian approaches to its border regions through three lenses: political, security and economic. It highlights the disparity of influence in these frontier regions, which is reflected in the points of social and ethnic overlap over which states clash. There are also international transformations and new developing modes of communication and media technologies, organized transnational crime, terrorist activities, and other aspects that have created new issues for frontier regions.
The third chapter clarifies the Iranian challenges in these frontier regions by detailing the geopolitical, geo-security and geo-economic challenges facing Iran in the context of its sovereignty, security, and the scope of its influence in the frontier territories. It examines the contrast and overlap between the frontier regions on the one hand, and politics, economy and security on the other hand.
In conclusion, the book details the perception of an overlap between the security of Iran’s frontier regions from a geopolitical perspective and the combined factors of the state’s power, as well as its strategies and the scope of its external role. It also concludes that the power of the state, moving from one geopolitical circle to another, is greater within the borders of its sovereignty but diminishes within the limits of security. This is the largest focal point of tension for Iran, which excludes any region in its geographical surroundings from its influence except for those constituting security risks. Moreover, almost all security threats against Iran in the context of its sovereignty are ‘‘asymmetric.’’
In addition, Iran can exploit minority groups and leverage its network of armed militias to create instability in order to pressure regional and international powers that are present within its spheres of influence with regard to their policies.