The Strategic Geo-economic Position of Persian Gulf and the Competion of Powers in the 21st Century

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Assistant Professor, Geography Faculty, University of Tehran, Iran

2 PhD. Student, International Relations, Islamic Azad University, Science & Research branch of Tehran, Iran

3 MA., International Relations, University of Shiraz, Iran


At the beginning of the twenty-first century, great powers through new approach and great concern began a competition for economic interests in strategic regions of the world. This approach is formed through integration of geography, power, and economic factors. It also studies the the relationship between geography and economics, and the interaction of these three elements in order to help the countries gain power. In this era, the attention of the powers is shifting towards economy-political trends in the sensitive areas of the world rather than military-political attitudes. In this century, the energy, especially oil and gas as the main component of Geo-economics, plays important roles in development process, the security, and regional and international conflicts. Persian Gulf is one of the most strategic and Geo-economic areas where is the center of conflicts and Geo-energic competitions in the 21st century.
In terms of geopolitical and Geo-strategic theories, Persian Gulf is the international area where due to energy resources, provide a geo-economic space for actors (regional and trans-regional) to play role in the form of cooperation, competition and conflict.
With development in traditional discourse of ego-strategic and evolution of modern matching discourse between geoeconomic and geo-strategic territories in the last decades and the prorioty of economic issues relative to militaray issues, oil as the essence of modern industry is the most important raw material in industrial civilization of the world in comparison with the factors of power. At this stage, energy especially oil and gas is not listed as an economic commodity, but as valuable strategic commodity has greater power.
The geo-politic area of Persian Gulf, because of having two thirds of strategic resources of oil and gas in the world, has turned into a geo-economic area and has become a place for trans-regional powers rivals since the 1900s. In the prtesent study, the authors have tried to investigate the issues such as geo-economy, strategic importance of the region oil and gas resources, competition between regional powers such as America, Europian Union countries, Russia, China and Japan to meet their energy needs, export products, to invest, and to compete with each others.
The collapse of the Soviet Union in the last decade of the twentieth century has made great changes in the knowledge and cognition of scientific areas. One of the new concepts which have been frequently used in international relations and geopolitics to analyze the strategic and international problems is geoeconomic approach. This is also used as the theoretical framework of the present study. In 1990, Edward N. Lvtvak introduced and made use of geoeconomic paradigm in international relations, geopolitics, and other issues. He believes that conflicts in the 20th and 21st centuries are resulted from the past and each conflict is rooted from an economic factor.  The logic of economy, which has been long ignored because of the west and the east powers and the equality of deterrent forces, plays the most important role in the analysis of human relations and the geopolitics.
The emergence of the new concept of geoeconomics within which the relations with human are developed has motivated some politicians to interpret this concept as economic war.In this way they emphasize on the role of economy in the analysis of the state policy.  
Results and discussion
It seems that the sources of energy are the most important geopolitic variables in the present political system of the world in international interactions among the countries and migration from areas with no energy or in need of energy. These resources have changed the control of production resources, transportation routes, means of production, as well asprocessing and transport of energy as means for world dominance. They are challenging for international competitions in an important geopolitic issue.
With changes in the traditional discourses, geostrategic and geoeconomic fields have become important desiplines. Accordingly, constant presence of powers and international actors has placed Persian Gulf at the center of global importance and international acts. That is why, this area is considered as one of the most important and sensitive areas from the strategic and geopolitics perspectives. Due to the deep international changes, wars and conflicts in the last decades, it could be claimed that Persian Gulf will become the most important center of strategic calculations and attitudes in the 21st century.
From classical geopolitics points of views, it is hearthland or special living space. That is why the experts in strategic issues argue that if the USA does not dominate Persian Gulf, it power in key areas in the other parts of the world will greatly decrease and will lose the game against the other alternatives such as Europian Union, Russia and China.
Based on the findings of the present study, with the advent of the geoeconomics in the last decade of the twentieth century, energy centers have attracted the attention of consumer countries and regional and global powers more than the past. From this perspective, Persian Gulf region as the world largest energy storage will be the center of attention. Europe stragey in Persian Gulf is to cooperate with the USA, buy oil and gas, sell weapons, and have military cooperation, and agree with these countries to establish military bases. The strategy of Russia is to have a soft balancing with America, to try to find marks for its arms, have economic cooperation, and have security and nuclear cooperation with Iran, and invest in the region, particularly Iran's oil and gas resources. China has also the same strategy. This can also be concluded that due to the West and East industrial economy needs for energy resources and great decrease in energy resources of the world, the conflict and competition among the powers seems possible just in this geoeconomic region. 


Main Subjects

  • Receive Date: 17 December 2012
  • Revise Date: 17 September 2014
  • Accept Date: 13 May 2013
  • First Publish Date: 22 June 2014