In the last game, Afghanistan and Armenia had plenty of room to settle West and East respectively, but now two new contenders have arrived to complicate the region's political standing - Persia and the Timurids.
Afghanistan captured our hearts, and some Hunnic cities, last BR with their heroic and nearly-unbelievable defense of their homeland against Hun and Mongolian invasions. These unconquerable people were playing the scrappy-mountainous-defender game before it was cool (Tibet). Hipsterghanistan will look to build upon that legacy and improve from there with its combat bonus when near mountains and its excellent UU which replaces the Gatling gun but has five movement points. The addition of the Timurids and Persia, however, will force them to prove their worth sooner rather than later, this time around.
Persia is in one of the most hotly contested spots in the entire BR. They start right in the middle of IRL Iran. In the last BR, Israel was able to gain control of most of Iran just because the nearby Afghanistan, Armenia, and Arabia basically turtled the entire time. But now, with Persia in the picture, they now look to dominate the Middle East and keep their people happy so they use their UA to keep generating long Golden Ages with extra boosts. However, that is way easier said than done. Because they don't only have to worry about the Middle Eastern civs, including Byzantium, Israel, and the maybe-if-they-come-out-of-their-shell Arabian Empire. They also have to worry about Armenia and Afghanistan as well just in case they come out of their shells. And with more competition in India now, the Mughals might look west as well. Top it all off with the newcomer Timurids to the North and Persia has a lot to worry about. Chances are that at least one of those empires will eventually go into a full on war with Persia and cripple them. Persia has potential but there are is too hotly contested for us to rank them any higher.