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Coddling the Caucasus: Iran’s Strategic Relationship with Azerbaijan and Armenia

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Author(s): Geoffrey Gresh

Journal: Caucasian Review of International Affairs
ISSN 1865-6773

Volume: 1;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2006;
Original page

Keywords: neorealism | anarchy | balance of power | BTC Pipeline/Caspian Sea oil and gas pipelines | ethnonationalism | external Influences—Russia | Iran | United States | Turkey

ABSTRACT
Fearful of losing its economic regional and global dominance, Iran has sought to align itself diplomatically and economically with Armenia and Russia to counter Azerbaijan’s new pro-western policies and rising economic power. This paper analyzes the international relations of the Southern Caucasus through a Neorealist paradigm to demonstrate how Iran’s behavior and action in the area were a direct result of the anarchical system that ensued after the fall of the Soviet Union in the 1990s. The lack of a bipolar system in the Caucasus has pushed the region to the brink of another regional conflict that could potentially be more far-reaching and widespread than that of the previously contained Nagorno-Garabagh conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Iran’s foreign policy of the past decade demonstrates Iran’s pragmatism in the Southern Caucasus that is not dictated by religious ideology, but rather by Iran’s national interests, both economic and political, and national security concerns. The “New Great Game” of the post-Cold War era in the southern Caucasus will radically transform the region into one of great strategic and geopolitical importance.
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