Of particular note is the fact that Indian imports increased by more than 110 percent. This is important not only because of what it says about the long-term prospects for the recovery of the Iranian oil economy, but also because of how it might impact geopolitics in the Middle East and surrounding Asian countries.
This was illustrated on Thursday by an analysis piece that was published by Eurasia Review in response to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s recent trip to Pakistan. This trip resulted in the signing of a number of memoranda of understanding, and both governments seemed keen to suggest that it laid the groundwork for a dramatic expansion in trade and diplomatic relations between the two.
But Eurasia Review made a point of tempering these projections by reminding readers of the traditionally close economic relations between Iran and India, as well as the tensions that have existed between Iran and Pakistan.
Articles that appeared in other outlets earlier this week also emphasized these tensions and Pakistan’s unique position as an Iranian-Saudi battleground for influence. Furthermore, Eurasia Review pointed out that Saudi Arabia has traditionally had the upper hand in this competition, meaning that Iran would have to simultaneously contend with that relationship and its own relations with Pakistan’s chief adversary, India.
The global media also indicated that one particular indicator of that challenge had emerged from Rouhani’s talks with Islamabad, as the latter requested that Tehran provide information and carry out and arrest of at least two Indian nationals that the Pakistanis believed to be carrying out intelligence operations from a base of operations in Iran.
Web India reports that no conclusive evidence of such operations has been presented. But this has apparently not diminished Pakistan’s demands, suggesting that it may be difficult for Iran to improve its relations with one side of the India-Pakistan divide without alienating the other.
On the other hand, Eurasia Review notes that Iran may not have to confront this challenge alone, and may in fact have foreign incentives to go on pursuing improved relations with Pakistan. The analysis concludes by recommending that India monitor any moves by Russia and China to urge this expansion of relations.
This in turn suggests that if Iran is successful in that expansion, it could have a considerable impact on the balance of power in the Middle East and Asia, not just where Iran is concerned, but also with regard to a prospective alliance among Iran and a number of other traditionally anti-Western powers. Iran, Russia, and China have apparently been tightening an alliance among themselves for some time, and President Rouhani’s visit to Pakistan highlights the possibility of other members in that alliance, which could threaten the interests of the United States and its allies, including Saudi Arabia.