Southern Rimland of Eurasia


Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan represent important and interconnected links of chain in the region

If to use the method of combining political geography and geopolitics, it is easy to reveal that the group of countries located north of the Arabian Sea has a number of common features. Part of modern Iran and Afghanistan represent historical Greater Khorasan, and the Pashtun belt stretches from Afghanistan to Pakistan. Pakistan and Iran are united by Balochistan (in both countries there are separatist Balochi (Baluchi) movements actively sponsored from the outside). All three countries are Islamic states the first to gain independence from Britain was the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in 1947, after the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, this state also moved from the monarchical system to the Islamic Republic (with a specific institution Wilayat al Faqih), and Afghanistan, in 2021, rebecame an Islamic Emirate (previously it was under the Taliban from 1996 to 2001). And in ancient times they were all part of the Sasanian Empire.

Each country has many more interesting cultural, ethnic and religious features. Although Afghanistan has no access to the sea, it is organically adjacent to the southern part of the Eurasian Rimland (coastal zone), which for a long time was controlled by the AngloSaxons –  directly or indirectly.\

Let’s recall that the term Rimland, as well as Heartland, was introduced by the British geographer Halford Mackinder. If Russia was the northern Heartland of the World Island, which includes Eurasia and Africa, then Rimland covers both continents, including the Mediterranean Sea. Mackinder was more concerned about the role of Hartland, whereas the American geopolitician Nicholas Spykman believed that Rimland was more important, since the main population of the continents was concentrated near the shores of the seas, and foreign trade and communications were carried out mainly through sea routes.

And the waterway itself along the coast of Iran and Pakistan is a historical route along which the Arabs contacted India and China, establishing a fairly strong system of ties. It is significant that the spread of Islam in the countries of Southeast Asia was carried out precisely through this waterway with the help of merchants. Unlike the land mass, where the spread of religion was often synonymous with war, Islam entered Southeast Asia peacefully.

And, of course, at the moment, these communications, coupled with strong coastal points (from naval bases to deep-sea ports and terminals), are a serious strategic asset, control over which means economic and military advantages. Add to this the hydrocarbons of Iran and the large reserves of various minerals in Afghanistan.

Now the situation is changing towards continental integration and multipolarity, thus it seems important to support the integration processes and security of this region. This requires the development of a balanced comprehensive strategy and an understanding of the interests of all three actors in the region.

This is also extremely important for Russia, because Iran and Pakistan have access to the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. And amid the ongoing conflict with the West, the reorientation towards the Global South and the Global East should be levelled up to a system.

Iran, of course, is of greater interest, since the international NorthSouth transport corridor has already been launched, although not to its full potential. Since Russia is connected to Iran directly through the Caspian Sea, as well as through the Republic of Azerbaijan, this makes bilateral cooperation much easier and more effective than the hypothetical use of transport routes through Pakistan (here, at least two transit states lie on the way Afghanistan and Turkmenistan to the Caspian Sea, and at least three by land, whether it is crossing the border through Afghanistan or China). In addition, a route to the Arabian Peninsula and the East Coast of Africa opens through Iran. And this means access to economically powerful Arab monarchies and a potentially attractive market in Africa, where Russia‘s presence is already increasing, especially in the part of the Sahel belt the Heartland of the dark continent.

Therefore, maintaining the level of strategic relations and their development is of great importance for Russia and opens up good prospects.

On June 25, 2024, it became known that a new comprehensive cooperation agreement between Iran and Russia was ready. Both the Russian and Iranian sides have stated that there are no obstacles to its conclusion. [i]   This means that our relationship will reach a new level.

Since Iran is also a member of the BRICS and the SCO, and also has an agreement with the EAEU on a free trade zone, which was finally ratified in June 2024 [ii], it is expected that this will increase the volume of trade transactions between the countries by 30-40 percent. [iii] 

In addition, Iran is counting on receiving swap supplies of oil and gas from Russia.[iv] 

The continuity of the foreign policy line, as well as the main imperatives of domestic policy, give grounds for Iraq to continue its active participation in building a multipolar world and strengthening regional security. Even due to the death of the president and Foreign Minister of Iran in a transport accident in May 2024, all political processes were not suspended and there is no reason that with the new head of government of the Islamic Republic, the ideological and geopolitical approaches of this country to world affairs will somehow change.

What is important is that Iran, like Russia, is also establishing relations with the Taliban government in Afghanistan. Moscow recently refused to consider this movement a terrorist organization, which will open up wider opportunities for interaction between the two countries. [v]   

Meanwhile, there are similar threats to Russia and Afghanistan this is the ISIS group (banned in the Russian Federation), which took responsibility for the terrorist attacks in Crocus City Hall and more recently in the Republic of Dagestan, as well as Western powers that are interested in undermining both Russia and Afghanistan.

As already mentioned, Afghanistan has significant potential for mining and even the oil, gas and nuclear industries. Almost all known deposits were discovered by Soviet geologists, but they were not developed due to the difficult conflict situation for decades. Barites, zinc, lead, uranium, coal, iron and copper ore, tungsten, silver and gold, tin, lithium, limestone, aluminum and many other elements of the periodic table are found in the bowels of Afghanistan. Their development may begin in the near future. In addition, Afghanistan is a market for consumer goods and a major producer of agricultural products.

It is also necessary to pay attention to the potential of various highways, whether it is the Trans-Afghan Transport Corridor or the rather long-standing TurkmenistanAfghanistanPakistanIndia pipeline project. Participation in their construction and further operation can give Russia good dividends in the future.

Pakistan is also important for the geopolitics of southern Eurasia. It is no coincidence that the United States has been insisting on political control over him since the 50s. Washington is still trying to keep its influence over him, partly through the IMF, which enslaved Pakistan with its loans, and partly through manipulating the narrative of the Indian threat (it is significant that for India, American advisers have similar horror stories about the Islamic a nuclear bomb, as well as the Chinese threat).

Currently, a key element of the Chinese Belt and Road initiative is being implemented in Pakistan the ChinaPakistan Economic Corridor, which begins from the deep-water port of Gwadar in Balochistan province and stretches across the country north to the mountain ranges of the Hindu Kush system. Pakistan is interested in attracting additional investors for this and other projects from Russia. Recently, the country‘s leadership announced that Islamabad will join the use of the NorthSouth corridor and is considering acceptable options for Russian companies to enter Pakistan. Earlier, Russia signed a memorandum on the construction of the Pakistan Stream pipeline, although negotiations on various details are still ongoing. [vi]    

Pakistan‘s energy hunger can also be satisfied at the expense of nuclear energy, since Rosatom can offer optimal solutions in this matter. Finally, Russia‘s mediation in improving relations between India and Pakistan can also bear fruit, and Moscow has previously offered its services in this matter, especially when there was an escalation on the border.

Cooperation with Pakistan in the field of countering terrorism is another area where constant and trusting contact between the competent authorities of the two countries is needed.

It is important to note that Pakistan is a nuclear power, and its participation on the side of a multipolar world will mean a lot.

And with all three states in the south of Eurasia, it is necessary to work out the issues of circumventing the sanctions of the collective West. They are all more or less familiar with the blocking of funds, and with various manipulations for political reasons. A more consolidated approach in this regard will allow everyone together and individually to feel more confident in the global financial system, while the most appropriate alternative is to switch to their own transaction mechanism in order to avoid dependence on the dollar/euro and the passage of financial flows through Western clearing centers.

There is a possibility that a similar mechanism will be presented at the BRICS summit in October. At least, there is information that Russia and China have already worked out the main nuances of the new payment instrument, which will be used both for the traditional banking sector and for transactions in digital currency.

As we can see, although bilateral relations with each country individually are important, a more complete picture and consideration of various aspects from religion and culture to security, economy and industry, will allow us to build the most appropriate strategy for both us and the specified states, since full-fledged cooperation with neighbors will be in the interests of all parties and a peaceful life based on one’s own values.








Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply