Don't underestimate Iran's geopolitical resources
People in the West tend to think of Iran as just a backward Islamic theocracy, of no importance to the world, other than as a dangerous terror threat. But in many ways, Iran is surprisingly important on the world stage. In fact, Iran has massive amounts of land, population, and resources. Those strategic strengths give Iran geopolitical and economic authority. But as long as the Islamic terror regime holds power, Iran will not develop as it should.
Iran is the 17th largest country in the world. By land mass, the country is larger than the combined Western European countries — France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, and Portugal. It is also the 16th most populous country in the world, with more than 81 million people — about 1% of the world’s population. Its population is comparable in size to each of the biggest European countries.
Iran has poor climate, with hot, dry summers and short, cool winters. Much of its land remains undeveloped. But it is rich in natural and mineral resources. As ranked among 15 major mineral-rich countries, Iran contains about 7% of global mineral resources.
Iran is one of the richest countries in the world in terms of underground mines. Nevertheless, the mining sector is not well developed in the country.
As the second largest country in the Middle East, Iran is centrally located like the hub of a wheel connecting the land spokes that lead to Europe, Anatolia-Arabia, India, and Asia. And in between those land spokes, Iran has direct access to inland seas, gulfs, and oceans. That geography gives Iran geostrategic influence across the Middle East and Eurasia.
Iran has natural sea power due to its gulf access to southern oceans, especially through its control over the Strait of Hormuz. Its strategic port of Chabahar is the only Iranian oceanic port, located in the north of the Gulf of Oman. But that port is the closest and easiest entryway for any trading nations to reach the landlocked countries of Central Asia to the north.
The mullahs of the Islamic regime understand that economic and geopolitical asset as a weapon. In pursuit of their dark ambitions, they often threaten to block the Strait of Hormuz. It is the key choke point in a vital sea lane.
As a development hub, the country of Iran could play a considerable role in a political and economic transformation of large areas of Central Asian territory, including the Caucasus, the Indian subcontinent, the Indian Ocean, the Persian Gulf, and Anatolia. But the bloodthirsty regime in Iran stands in the way of that prosperity. With the Islamic regime gone, Iran’s geographical endowments would provide profound benefits for regional relations, as trading nations would pursue peaceful trade via Iran.
Iran has vast potential for trade in the world, in peace, not terrorism. The only factor missing for it to become a good partner in political and economic affairs is a modern, secular, and democratic government in power.
Dasht-e Lut (the world’s 27th largest desert) and Dasht-e Kavir are located in the central and eastern regions of Iran. Due to the hot climate, those arid deserts can become economic powerhouses for solar energy production. As the cleanest and most reliable form of renewable energy available, it might be used to fuel prosperity for the young populations and businesses of the cities. But as they are now an undeveloped wasteland, those arid deserts remain a haven for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps–backed drug-traffickers to transit narcotics to the West.
While there is oil development, the money is being spent on terrorism, not civic settlement. The regime depends upon terror to remain in power. But while terror dominates everything, the country cannot develop. So if the regime were to collapse, trade development would grow. It only makes sense for the trading world to unify behind that long-term strategy, for the sake of their own market potential.
This article was originally written by Kaveh Taheri and Aynaz Anni Cyrus on American Thinker in 2019.
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