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 Robert M. Cutler
May 9, 2022
Constructive developments in negotiations for peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan, particularly those mediated by the European Union, have produced a further radicalization of the opponents of such a peace. Russia is unhappy with EU and Western attempts to take the initiative for the peaceful normalization of relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Russia is seeking to use the Karabakh Armenians to maintain its geopolitical position in the South Caucasus. Threats have been voiced, in both Moscow and Khankendi [Stepanakert], of the intention to seek an annexation to Russia of areas in Nagorno-Karabakh where Russian troops are located.
By Natalia Konarzewska
April 6, 2022
Like several other countries, Azerbaijan seeks to retain functioning relations with both Russia and Ukraine amid Russia’s invasion. Baku provides Ukraine with humanitarian aid yet avoids actions directly opposing Moscow for fear of retaliation. Baku’s position reflects its interest in maintaining Russia’s acceptance of Azerbaijan’s multi-vector foreign policy and in gaining Moscow’s support for its objectives in Nagorno-Karabakh. Moreover, the recent surge of violence in Nagorno-Karabakh suggests that Baku is taking advantage of the opportunity arising as Western and Russian attention is directed elsewhere to improve its own position vis-à-vis the separatist region.
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.
By Emil A.Souleimanov and Huseyn Aliyev
June 10, 2021, the CACI Analyst
Starting in mid-May, a wave of confrontations between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces have taken place in disputed border areas after large-scale fighting between the two states ended in November last year. While both sides trade accusations of violating each others’ international borders, there may be logical reasons for the recent spike in Armenian-Azerbaijani confrontations and their timing. Armenia’s upcoming parliamentary elections, unresolved issues of prisoners of war, the status of Nagorno-Karabakh, and the question of the “Zangezur/Syunik corridor” have all possibly contributed to the recent events.
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.