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The Islamic Republic of Ariana, the area’s second-largest and second-strongest nation militarily, possesses massive oil and gas reserves in its southwest region along the Persian Gulf. This area and the Strait of Hormuz comprise key terrain assets for the country. Ariana’s government is aggressive, capable, revolutionary, and intent on spreading its vision of Islamic governance and the establishment of a new Arianian hegemony throughout the region. Ariana mobilises target populations through politicisation of Islam to accomplish its long-term goals.

Political

At the heart of political power in the Islamic Republic of Ariana is the Council of Guardians Revolution. The Revolution considers itself the vanguard of proper Islamic sentiment on the planet, and the heart of a global conversion to its version of Islam. The Revolution has successfully defended itself from both internal and external threats, and remains committed to the export of its vision of theocratic rule.

Military

The Council of Guardians Revolution is at the heart of political power in the Islamic Republic of Ariana. The Revolution considers itself the vanguard of proper Islamic sentiment on the planet, and the heart of a global conversion to its version of Islam. The Revolution has successfully defended itself from both internal and external threats, and remains committed to the export of its vision of theocratic rule.

Economic

The Caucasus countries that possess hydrocarbon resources will continue to depend on oil and gas industries to drive their economies, while those that do not possess such resources will attempt to tie themselves to hydrocarbon-rich nations. Ariana faces geopolitical difficulties in exporting its oil and natural gas. Bordered by adversaries, the Arianians must rely on tenuous routes to export their resources. All nations of the Caucasus have relatively high inefficiency due to corruption, government involvement in the economy, and/or lack of export industry development.

Ariana’s economy has pockets of economic vitality but suffers from governmental legislation and regulation that restrict its growth. Ariana’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) consistently improves about 4-6% annually and even reached 7-8% growth in 2007. Much of Ariana’s GDP growth, however, depends on hydrocarbon revenues that make up the largest sector of the Arianian economy and suffer the whims of international market commodity prices.

The Arianian government continues to push for greater market liberalisation and reform, but large Arianian special interests are expected to continue blocking economic progressive legislation to prevent any decrease in their power. Additionally, the government plays a significant role in the Arianian economy; its social welfare policies fund various charities and numerous subsidies for commodities ranging from foodstuffs to gasoline.

Ariana’s economy is also a series of contrasts. While a population surge reached the labour market over the last decade, Arianian unemployment continued to decrease over the same period. While trade and finance sanctions create significant foreign investment obstacles, overseas trade—especially with East Asian countries—continues to grow as Asia desires raw hydrocarbon resources and Ariana seeks finished consumer goods. Although Ariana’s industrial sector continues as one of the region’s strongest, its factories suffer from international sanctions imposed on the parts and technology needed to update its hardware and techniques.

President Ahmad Moudin’s financial policies support his populist agenda, including an expansionary fiscal policy. Moudin continues to support massive subsidies for the populace with energy subsidies alone accounting for approximately 12 percent of Ariana’s GDP. The People’s Wealth Fund (PWF), which uses oil revenue proceeds as a hedge against the volatile price fluctuations on the international petroleum market, supports oil subsidies provided to the Arianian people. The high oil prices of the last decade filled the PWF coffers with enough revenue to pursue Moudin’s populist

policies, like fuel subsidies, and possibly provided funds to continue Ariana’s investment in nuclear technology.

As a result of Ariana’s successful nuclear weapons program, the US Treasury enacted sanctions against Ariana that hamper its international and domestic economic systems and promote policy changes. In addition, the US hopes the sanctions will deter Ariana from providing financial support to Middle East terrorists.

Social

Ariana enjoys an ancient heritage and rich culture. The country possesses a well-documented reputation as the centre of knowledge, art, poetry, and mathematics in the region that dates back thousands of years. Most Arianians are proud of their nation and consider themselves Arianians and/or Persians, dependent on their ethnic group.

Over the last few years, radical Arianian power brokers with extremist world views have provided sanctuary to international terrorists. Ariana also sponsored the proxy wars of the Shia Internationalist Brigades and the Martyr’s Army versus Israel, as well as training and/or supplying Arianian Shia insurgent groups such as local Shia Internationalist Brigades. Ariana continues to threaten Israel, the US, and their allies with its domestically popular and successful nuclear weapons program.

Since President Ahmad Moudin took power in 2003, his continual references to the 12th Imam’s imminent return and the establishment of an Islamic Caliphate stir the Shia faithful to action. The rhetoric also diverts increasing social discontent to a common foreign enemy—the US and its infidel allies, such as Israel and Egypt. As long as religious zealots control the government, it remains likely that Ariana and the US will never become allies in the Caucasus region.

Social discontent and civil unrest continue to rise in Ariana. Tens of thousands of people protested the last election (August 2009), in which Moudin received the most votes in what many observers perceived as a rigged election. The perception by many Arianian citizens of deeply ingrained government corruption, skewed wealth distribution, high inflation, and high unemployment rates continue to drive this discontent and unrest. Protests, to include student-organised protests, persist even to this day in Tehran.

Regardless of these problems, the Arianian populace still enjoys a higher living standard than many of its regional neighbours. Ariana is not a poor nation. The Arianian poor generally earn more than $2 per day, the United Nations (UN) poverty standard. The government, however, states that only 18 percent of its citizens live below the poverty line. The Arianian people’s discontent may eventually lead to minor governmental changes but is unlikely to result in any fundamental changes to the Arianian political situation.

Most citizens enjoy clean water and electricity, most attend primary and secondary schools, and most urban citizens have access to phone services. Literacy rates remain very high in Ariana (77 percent), and over 80 percent complete high school. Each year, over one million high school graduates apply for entrance into Arianian universities. The more educated the Arianian public becomes, however, the more likely that they will speak out against the theocracy.

Information

Ariana is a repressive information environment, with the government controlling all important information environment elements. Ariana is one of the most sophisticated nations in the world at information control, utilising advanced capabilities to monitor and direct communications. Despite this, the fragmented Arianian opposition uses the Internet extensively, though its ultimate effect on the political environment is mixed at best. Ariana’s INFOWAR capability is generally good, with pockets of excellence in a variety of disciplines.

Infrastructure

The Arianian infrastructure resembles a patchwork quilt with a mixture of modernisation and obsolescence. While previous Arianian leaders made substantial investments, the infrastructure now faces significant challenges from the stresses of both war and peace. While rail, road, air, and seaports are marginally adequate, the natural gas and oil infrastructure suffers from archaic construction. Environmental and population pressures on aquifers, along with considerable pollution levels, create significant stress on water and other natural resources. Over 40 percent of Ariana’s more than 77 million people reside in its 18 largest cities, all of which have at least 350,000 residents.

Physical Environment

Mountains and deserts form the majority of Ariana. A high plateau with vast sand deserts dominates eastern Ariana. High mountains such as the Zagros and Elburz mountain ranges encompass most of north-central, western, and southwestern parts of the country.

Ariana is located between two major depressions, with the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman to the south and the Caspian Sea to the north. The rocky terrain located along most of Ariana’s borders extends well into the nation’s interior, making Ariana one of the world’s most mountainous countries. Ariana’s topography contains three principal regions: the mountain ranges, the primarily coastal lowlands, and the Arianian Plateau (also referred to as the Central Plateau).

Out of Ariana’s 636,372 total square miles, water constitutes only a little over 45,000 square miles. Major Arianian rivers include the Karun, the Sefid-Rud, the Haraz, the Qom, the Aras, and the Zayandeh. The Karun River, located in southwest Ariana, represents Ariana’s longest and only navigable river, and runs 515 miles through the country. The Aras River, located in the far northwest, runs along much of the border between Ariana and its northern neighbours of Limaria and Atropia. Lake Urmia represents Ariana’s and the Middle East’s largest lake as well as the world’s third-largest salt lake. Located in north-western Ariana, it covers an area that varies from 2,000 to 3,000 square miles.

Ariana’s rugged terrain favours the defender, and the military will generally find the country ill-suited to armoured or mechanised operations, particularly in the coastal regions. Travellers can only access most high basin areas through winding, narrow mountain passes.

Ariana’s desert and mountains will complicate cross-country movement. The Zagros Mountains in the western half of the country prohibit vehicular travel. Equipment and vehicles will get stuck in muddy areas created at the base of the mountains by snow melt and spring rains. In heavy rains, southwestern Ariana’s marshlands and rivers can flood and bring ground movement to a halt. The rugged mountains, due to their location, are an excellent place for smugglers of drugs, weapons, and fighters. The mountainous terrain will make vehicle breakdowns and tire changes a daily occurrence

Time

The Caucasus countries, for the most part, do not believe in the sensitivity of time, and do not view punctuality or the importance of time as the US and most other Western countries do. Most of the people in the region do not view time as a resource and do not feel any compulsion to effectively manage their time. The people in the Caucasus region do not make the connection between effective use of their time and production. This lack of time consciousness will likely frustrate US soldiers as they work with their allies, but it will also give the US a battlefield advantage against its enemies.

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