By Alexander Yeo and Emil A. Souleimanov
May 8, 2023
On January 27, a gunman entered Azerbaijan’s embassy in the Iranian capital, killing a security officer. This violent incident appears to have taken place following numerous requests made by Azerbaijani diplomats to their Iranian colleagues to strengthen the security measures around the South Caucasian country’s embassy in Tehran. This is an unprecedented act of violence, comparable only to the incident in the summer of 2001 when an Iranian warship and fighter aircraft threatened a British Petroleum-navigated Azerbaijani vessel exploring the oil reserves of an area in the south-western Caspian contested by Iran. The event is regarded by some observers as a turning point in Azerbaijani–Iranian relations, and has been followed by a diplomatic spat between the two countries.
By Brenda Shaffer
September 9, 2022
For a quarter of a century, Israel and Azerbaijan have maintained deep strategic cooperation that touches on national security issues of the highest importance to both sides. The defense relationship goes far beyond arms sales and technology transfer, including cooperation on the establishment of Azerbaijan’s indigenous defense industry. In the 2020 war, Azerbaijan demonstrated an innovative use of Israeli arms and the integration of Turkish and Israeli unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) as well as a novel uses of UAVs. The war set the stage the return of open cooperation between Turkey and Israel and renewal of exchange of ambassadors. Moreover, Israel’s cooperation with Azerbaijan has endowed it with “soft power” among ethnic Azerbaijanis in Iran, who form one-third of the Islamic Republic’s population.
By Brenda Shaffer
August 17, 2022
Much of the analysis on Iranian foreign policy focuses on both Iran’s positonality in relation to the Middle East, and its claim to the mantle of Shia Islamic leadership. However, a more detailed examination shows that Iran’s foreign policy is also focused toward its neighbors to the north in the Caucasus and Central Asia. Tehran’s policies toward these states reveals the realpolitik core of Iranian foreign policy, especially in relation to the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict. Iran’s foreign policy toward the Caucasus and Central Asia is intertwined with its domestic security, as several of Iran’s major ethnic groups share ties with co-ethnics in these states. Iran and its neighbors in Central Asia and the Caucasus use a high degree of policy compartmentalization in order to simultaneously derive benefit and prevent open conflict.
By Vali Kaleji
April 25, 2022
Iran’s close relations with the Russian Federation, along with Tehran’s efforts to maintain relations with Ukraine, have complicated Iran’s approach to Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine. Although Iran has not recognized the independence of the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, it simultaneously has not criticized the attack and abstained from voting on a UN General Assembly resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. While Tehran, like Russia, opposes NATO enlargement, it is concerned over possible negative implications of the war for the talks on Iran’s nuclear program.
By Fuad Shahbazov
January 26, 2022, the CACI Analyst
On October 6, 2021, Russia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov met his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir Abdollahian in Moscow to discuss regional security and economic cooperation, and to address important concerns regarding the crisis in the South Caucasus. During the joint press conference, Lavrov repeatedly highlighted the idea of a “3+3 cooperation format” including the three South Caucasus states – Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia – plus their three large neighbors, Russia, Turkey, and Iran, to focus on unlocking economic and transport communications in the region. The first meeting within the format took place in Moscow on December 2021; however, Georgia refused to take part. Moreover, recent tensions in the region between Armenia and Azerbaijan as well as Azerbaijan and Iran suggest that the proposed format will not generate visible positive outcomes.
The Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst is a biweekly publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program, a Joint Transatlantic Research and Policy Center affiliated with the American Foreign Policy Council, Washington DC., and the Institute for Security and Development Policy, Stockholm. For 15 years, the Analyst has brought cutting edge analysis of the region geared toward a practitioner audience.