Geopolitical Shift in Power and Security in Southwest Asia

Document Type : Original Article


Postdoctoral on Strategic Policy Making and Full Professor of Political Sciences, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran.


Extended Abstract
Historical turning points generally arise on the basis of instrumental changes and technological developments. In the final years of the 20th century, we witnessed the emergence of transformations in the structure of the international system and social lives of citizens, which were referred to as “The Third Wave” and “Powershift” by Alvin Toffler, “The Third Wave of Democracy” by Samuel P. Huntington, and as “The Network Society” by Manuel Castells. The entire foregoing literature and approaches are indicative of the fact that technological changes firstly pave the way for international transformations, and secondly prepare the ground for confrontation of players who have ideological, historical and geopolitical rivalries.
The World Wars I and II were the result of technological changes, extensive militarism, and emergence of signs of intensified nationalism. In the late 2010s, we witnessed instrumental changes and emergence of nationalist thoughts in a wide range of countries worldwide. American nationalism is defined on the basis of Trump’s emergence. Russian nationalism can be traced within the framework of the political thoughts and position of Putin in the political power structure of Russia. In Europe, nationalism has led to fundamental challenges for the European Union. Iranian nationalism can be witnessed in the broad-based reaction of Iranian social groups following the assassination of Major General Soleimani.
Each of such processes can create strategic and geopolitical changes. As the assassination of the Austrian crown prince in Sarajevo led to the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the assassination of Major General Soleimani reflects the United States’ logic of operational, tactical and strategic action aimed at changing the mechanisms of regional power balance. Any military action and counteraction by other players can be regarded as part of the hidden facts behind the geopolitical rivalry of countries in critical and security regions.   
   The main question of the paper is that: “What are the features of the geopolitics of power and security in Southwest Asia following the assassination of Major General Soleimani, and what changes will it create in the power equation of the players involved?” The hypothesis of this papers is that “the assassination of Major General Soleimani will lead to the aggravation of limiting and retaliating actions of the US against Iran aimed at creating weakness balance in the regional environment.” In writing this paper, the theory of offensive structural realism has been used for change in the balance and geopolitics of power.
 The U.S.-Iran tensions still have the potential to escalate into all-out conflict. Iran’s materiel support for armed factions throughout the region, including its provision of short-range ballistic missiles to these factions, and Iran’s network of agents in Europe, Latin America, and elsewhere, give Iran the potential to expand confrontation into areas where U.S. response options might be limited. Trump's model of security action is not only a challenge to neoliberal groups in the US internal structure, but also is an attempt to redefine the international system and shift the geopolitics of regional power.
A shift in the geopolitics of power in Southwest Asia will require a change in the balance of the power-threat equation. Some theorists point out that signs of "Shiite geopolitics" have emerged in the regional environment. The main feature of Shiite geopolitics can be considered in relation to Iran's strategic, tactical, and operational role in the processes of political and security action. Actors such as Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt are reluctant Iran to find a role for the region.


  1. Abrams, Elliott (2019), Trump versus the Government Can America Get Its Story Straight? Foreign Affairs, Vol. 98, No. 1, January/February 2019.
  2. Agnew, John (1999), Geopolitics re visioning world Politics, London: Rutledge.
  3. Ahmadi, S.; Badiee Azondahi, M.; Heidari Mosello, T. (2017). The Theoretical Explanation of the Nature of the Geopolitical Regions in Competition of the Powers. Geopolitics Quarterly, 13(47), 55-78.[In Persian].
  4. Anderson, P. (2018). American foreign policy and its thinkers. translated by: Etemad S., Tehran: FARHANG E MOASER Publications. [In Persian]
  5. Biden, Joseph (2020), Why America Must Lead Again; Rescuing U.S. Foreign Policy after Trump, Foreign Affairs, Vol. 99, No. 2, March/April.
  6. Cannon, Brenon; Federico Donelli (2019), Asymmetric alliances and high polarity: evaluating regional security complexes in the Middle East and Horn of Africa, Third world Quarterly, Vol. 41, No. 3, PP. 505-524.
  7. Daalder, Ivo; James M. Lindsay (2018), The Committee to Save the World Order; America’s Allies Must Step Up as America Steps Down, Foreign Affairs, Vol. 97, No. 6, November and December.
  8. Elman.c; Jensen M. (2012). Introduction to security studies: Realisms contributions, translated by: Taieb A., AMIRKABIR publication. [In Persian].
  9. Hafeznia, Mohammad Reza (1992), Persian Gulf and the strategic role of the Strait of Hormuz, Tehran: SAMT. [In Persian]
  10. Hafeznia, Mohammad Reza (2002), Political Geography of Iran, Tehran: SAMT. [In Persian]
  11. Hanieh, Adam (2019), New geographies of financial power: global Islamic finance and the Gulf, Third world Quarterly, Vol. 41, No. 3, PP. 525-546.
  12. Karlin, Mara; Tamara Cafman Wittes (2019), America’s Middle East Purgatory the Case for Doing Less, Foreign Affairs, Vol. 98, No. 1, January/February 2019.
  13. Kenneth N. Waltz (2019), Man, the State, and War: A Theoretical Analysis, translated by: Rostami M. R., Sales publication. [In Persian]
  14. Kugler, Jacek and Douglas Lemke (1996), Parity and War: Evaluations and Extensions of the War Ledger, Michigan: The University of Michigan Press.
  15. Levitsky, S.; Ziblatt, D. (2018). How democracies die, translated by: Dellara S. & Varshochi A., PARSE publication. [In Persian]
  16. Mearsheimer, J. J. (2019). Great Delusion: liberal dreams and international realities, Translated by: Barati M. and Rahimi Ashtiani D., Tehran: ABRAR MOASER Cultural Institute Publications. [In Persian]
  17. Mearsheimer, J. J.; Alterman, G. (2009). The tragedy of great power politics. WW Norton & Company., translated by: Cheginizadeh, G.A, Tehran: The Office of Political and International Studies Publications. [In Persian]
  18. Mearsheimer, john (2001), The Tragedy of Great Power Politics, New York: Norton Publication.
  19. Minaei, Mehdi (2017),Geopolitics of Iran, Tehran: SARAYESH Publications. [In Persian]
  20. Mosalanejhad, Abbas (2018), The Middle East Security and Donald Trump’s grand Strategy, Geopolitics Quarterly, Vol. 13, No. 48.
  21. Mosalanejhad, Abbas (2019), Us Comparative Policy toward Iran and the Middle East, Geopolitics Quarterly, Vol. 14, No. 52.
  22. Organski Abramo and Jack Kugler (1980), The War Ledger, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  23. Patrik, Stewart M. (2017), Trump and world order; the return of self-help, Foreign affairs, Vol. 96, No. 2, March / April.
  24. Pompeo, Michael R (2018), Confronting Iran; The Trump Administration’s Strategy, Foreign Affairs, Vol. 97, No. 6, November and December.
  25. Rahimi, H.; Hafeznia, M.; Ezzati, E.; Agnew, J. (2019). Determining the Status of Applied Recommendations in Geopolitical Theories of Classical Period. Geopolitics Quarterly, 15(55), 1-24. [In Persian]
  26. Richmond, Oliver (2019), Interventionary order and its methodologies: the relationship between peace and intervention, Third world Quarterly, Vol. 41, No. 2, PP. 207-227.
  27. Rosenau, James (1995), Security in a Turbulent World, Current History, Vol. 94, No. 592, May.
  28. Rumer, Eugene, Richard Sokolsky and Andrew S Weiss (2017), Trump and Russia; The Right way to manage relations, Foreign affairs, Vol. 96, No. 2, March / April.
  29. Schweller, Randall (1998), Deadly Imbalances, New York: Columbia University Press.
  30. Sune, Engin (2019), Internationalization, global capitalism and the integrations of Iran, Third world Quarterly, Vol. 41, No. 2, PP. 359-377.
  31. Tammen, Ronald (2000), Power Transitions: Strategies for the 21st Century, Chatham House: Seven Bridges Press.
  32. Tannenwald, Nina (2018), The Vanishing Nuclear Taboo; How Disarmament Fell Apart, Foreign Affairs, Vol. 97, No. 6, November and December.
  33. Walsh, Edmond (1944), Geopolitics and International Morals, New York: Macmillan.