India’s Position in Iran’s ‘Look to the East’ policy

Ebrahim Raisi’s administration has prioritized its ‘Look to the East’ policy. Although the focus is on Russia and China, India also has a special place in this policy. Iran and India consider the development of Chabahar port vital for establishing the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) and connecting Afghanistan to Central Asia. The INSTC can strengthen Iran’s relations with India and Russia and provide these countries with geopolitical and geo-economic benefits. At the same time, it allows India to find a suitable route to Central Asia, Eurasia, and Europe, bypassing Pakistan and competing with China in creating international corridors, including the Belt and Road Initiative and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). On its part, Iran sees India as a balancing factor against China and believes that India has a special place in the new world order. According to Iran’s interpretation, the U.S. hegemonic order has collapsed and the international order is witnessing a shift from Western powers to Eastern ones. This issue brief, while enumerating the fields of cooperation between Iran and India and its opportunities, also analyzes the related structural and regional obstacles.

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