The Overview of Iran & Caucasus Ties

Research abstract: 
With the collapse of the Soviet Union and independence of the Caucasus countries, widespread changes emerged in the political geography of this region and the power vacuum created by the collapse of the Soviet created a new opportunity for regional and international actors to define new equations for their relations with the Caucasus countries according to their national interests and strategic goals. Nearness of the Caspian Sea to the Caucasus and its significant sources of energy attracted the attention of international actors to this area. America, Russia, Europe, Iran, Turkey, China, India, and Israel are among the main powers and countries who made extensive efforts to attend in the area. These efforts along with the different and often conflicting interests of these powers and their strategic priorities led to wide competitions in the region. For Iran, the Caucasus is not a completely foreign territory and is highly similar to Iran from historical and cultural perspectives. With collapse of the Soviet Union, Iran was forced to develop a policy to suit the new conditions. This policy was formed around several axes. Preserving security of the country and its territorial integrity, developing bilateral and multilateral economic relations, stressing the geopolitical importance of Iran regarding transit of goods as well as reconstructing the international image of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Abandoning some ideological considerations of the Islamic revolutionary system, Tehran pursued a pragmatic prudent policy in relation to these countries. In addition, the Iranian authorities decided to set their policy in this area in close cooperation with Russia. Due to the mentioned procedure, we can also talk about another development which is the importance of cultural approaches in Iran's foreign policy. According to this theory, relations between countries are set based on their identity and cultural components. Iran has a great Islamic-Iranian heritage across Central Eurasia and the Caucasus. Albeit, due to the severe impact of power equations and consequences of the big game on one hand and structural carelessness to these countries in Iran's foreign policy during the years following their independence, these socio-cultural assets are less used. Iran sees instability in the South Caucasus as a threat to its national security and hence, tries to consolidate stability and security of its borders by mediating in crises. Efforts to resolve the Karabakh crisis is a clear example of this policy in establishing security and stability in the region. Emphasis on regional solutions has been the main approach of Iran's foreign policy in the South Caucasus. On the other hand, in the area of Caspian Sea, Iran has been making efforts to avoid excessive tensions in the relations with Azerbaijan Republic. Disputes between the two countries in the field of energy and its transport as well as legal issues of the Caspian Sea have confronted the prospect of their relations with ambiguities. The policy of Azerbaijan in closeness to the America and Israel has had direct effects on its relations with Iran. But relations with Armenia have been more stable, and closeness of Armenia and Iran to Russia has strengthened this stability. Iran's relations with Georgia are also very important because it is located on the energy route to Europe. However, Russia's interests in the area of the Caspian Sea on the transmission of energy and exploitation of sea resources are in stark contrast to Iran's vital interests. But the interaction between Iran and Russia in the South Caucasus has been shaped based on international approaches of the foreign policies of both countries, particularly in the context of relations with America in the region. In recent years, Syria has played a significant role in the promotion of cooperation between Iran and Russia. Therefore, Iran's foreign policy and its relations with the South Caucasus republics have been under the strong influence of orientations and policies of the regional and trans-regional actors. In general, Iran's interests in the Caucasus region can be summarized in the following categories: 1. Revive the traditional ties with the Caucasus region aimed at preventing threats against Iran's national security as well as economic and cultural advantages; 2. Gain Iran's interests in the Caspian Lake and extract oil and gas resources; 3. Take advantage of the linking situation of the Caucasus as an alternative route for Turkey to the Europe; 4. Restore the routes of energy to the economic and natural state with the aim of strengthening economic stability and advantage; 5. Prevent the formation of threatening processes by America, NATO, and Israel against Iran in the Caucasus. After the Soviet collapse, Iran tried to enter that region and have a continuous presence there through communication and direct contact with the Caucasus countries. Therefore, as the first post-Soviet action, Iran recognized the newly independent republics including the three countries of Caucasus, and the IRI Ministry of Foreign Affairs began to establish its political representations in these countries immediately after declaration of independence of these republics. In this regard, Iran's interests in the Caucasus region can be divided into three geo-political, geo-economical, and geo-cultural fields.
Political Science, Economics, Social Studies
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