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.
By Vali Kaleji
July 8, 2021, the CACI Analyst
After the Second Karabakh War, the tripartite ceasefire agreement on November 10, 2020, opens a possibility for Iran to become connected to the southern railway network in the South Caucasus. As a result of the First Nagorno-Karabakh War, an important part of the South Caucasus Railway, which passed through the Nakhichevan region, Syunik Province in southern Armenia, and Jabrail, Fizuli and Zangilan regions in southern Azerbaijan, was destroyed or removed from communication routes. As a result, unlike Turkey and Russia, Iran has no rail connection to the Caucasus.
By Sudha Ramachandran
April 27, 2021, the CACI Analyst
A new railway line running between Khaf in Iran and Herat in Afghanistan has generated much optimism in the two countries as it has the potential to boost bilateral travel and trade. The railway link is important to the larger region as well as it is part of the ambitious Five Nation Railway Corridor project. While there are great expectations of the FNRC project and the Khaf-Herat railway link’s recent inauguration in the participating countries, the road ahead will not be easy and the project faces implementation problems as well as competition from rival projects.
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.