Staunton, June 24 – In the judgment of the Iranian government, Caucasus today is becoming divided into two blocs, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, on the one hand, and Russia, Iran, and Armenia, on the other, and Tehran sees its interests and future being very much part of the latter, according to a new study by Italian activist Silvia Boltuk.
The director of the SpecialEurasia program in Italy and someone with close ties to Russian researchers has just published a new book, Iranian Interests in the Caucasus (in Italian; Rome, 2022) in which she makes these and other points. It has been summarized in Russian at casp-geo.ru/v-italii-opublikovan-doklad-pod-nazvaniem-iranskie-interesy-na-kavkaze/).
According to Boltuc, Iran has eight major goals in the Caucasus: the restoration of traditional ties, the prevention of ethno-religious conflicts, boosting its status as a religious center for Muslims, blocking Western expansion in the region lest it serve as the basis for an attack on Iran, development of Iranian gas and oil fields in the Caspian, restoring and expanding pipelines from the region through Iran, and transforming the Caucasus as an alternative east-west and north-south trade route.
Boltuc says these interests root Iran solidly in an alliance with Russia and Armenia and against what she says is the emerging bloc of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey. She argues Russia’s efforts to maintain its dominance there are appropriate because it is part of Russia’s “living space,” a term that could be translated into the notorious German term, Lebensraum.
At the same time and in a final comment, the Italian writer says that the military actions of Russia in Ukraine “could have consequences in the Caucasian direction where ‘frozen conflicts’ may again sharpen, creating a threat to regional stability and the economic and foreign policy goals of Teheran.”