Iran’s Chabahar Port And Geopolitics Of The Region
Chabahar port in Iran, with India’s investment, is a strange story. President Trump reluctantly excluded it from US sanctions, and it is the only Indian-run port Pakistan signed a sister-city agreement with. Some interesting updates:
- Trump was not sympathetic to India’s case on sanctions waivers for Chabahar & the crude oil imports from Iran, but he relented on the port only after pressure from US diplomats, who said even Pakistan did not object to the Indian-Iranian port.
- Iran spent years convincing China & Pakistan not to develop Gwadar, instead reroute the economic corridor CPEC to Chabahar citing better security in Iran compared to Pakistan & its Balochistan province. A top Iranian diplomat explains this:
- While Iran tried to woo China and Pakistan to cancel Gwadar, Pakistani & Chinese officials (unsuccessfully) tried to convince Tehran to expel India from Chabahar.
- A strong policy lobby under Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government in Pakistan promoted the story that Iran had expelled India from Chabahar; and used this as basis for pushing a policy of disengaging from US and Gulf to join an imaginary opposite “bloc” with Iran and China. But Iran and India are forging ahead with Chabahar project, throwing cold water on bloc-building efforts mainly by lobbies close to Imran Khan government.
- Iran didn’t wait for Pakistan and China to consider shutting down Gwadar & shifting to Chabahar but launched a decade-long terrorism in Pakistani Balochistan that culminated in busting Chabahar Terror Network of Indian spy officer Kulbhushan Jhadav.
- While Iran and India are influential states, Chabahar’s future is impacted in a big way by what policies the US and Pakistan adopt. Here’s my analysis on the port’s impact on American & Pakistani interests in Afghanistan.