IRAN AND THE SOUTHERN CAUCASUS
Dr. Huseyn N. NAJAFOV
Huseyn N. Najafov, Ph.D. (Hist.), doctoral candidate at the Diplomatic Academy of the Foreign Ministry of Russia (Moscow, Russia)
The death of the Soviet Union and disbandment of the Warsaw Treaty Organization put an end to the bipolar world. In the new geopolitical conditions the United States remained the only superpower. Under the pressure of the changed circumstances, the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) had to readjust its foreign policy conceptions and foreign policy practice. The foreign policy dictum—Neither East nor West—Only Islam—lost its urgency. Traditionally Iran was balancing between two rivals—Russia and Britain in the 19th century and the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. in the mid-20th century. The new world order deprived the foreign policy tradition of any meaning.
The new reality affected another basic foreign policy principle—export of the Islamic revolution to other countries. Today, Iran is satisfied with promoting Islamic culture throughout the world.
In the new conditions, Iran is more concerned with its own security and territorial integrity achieved through maintaining good-neighborly relations with the South Caucasian countries.
The geopolitical importance of the Southern Caucasus for Iran can hardly be overestimated: it is a major communication center where the Christian and Muslim civilizations meet at the strategic crossroads that tie together Europe and Asia, a fuel and energy center on the Caspian shores.
In ancient times and during the Middle Ages, bits and pieces of what today is the Caucasus were part of Iran. Turkey and Iran spent the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries fighting for domination in the Caucasus. It was the Russian Empire that squeezed Iran from the region: the Gulistan (1813) and Turkmanchai (1828) treaties between Russia and Persia turned out to be of…………