Iranian elbows in the South Caucasus

December 5, 2010 renewed negotiations between the representatives of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI), "six" of international mediators (5 permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany) and the Euro Union (EU) in order to resolve the Iranian nuclear prepyadstviya. This is likely to happen in Geneva, October 1, 2009 was accomplished last such meeting. During this time, quite a lot has happened in the main negative for Tehran events that led to the escalation of the nuclear crisis and to strengthen its political and economic isolation.

Namely, in the summer of this year against Iran sanctions were imposed by the UN Security Council, the EU, Canada, Australia, the land of the rising sun and the Republic of Korea. Yet Iran signed a contract on the Non-Proliferation of nuclear weapons as a nuclear-free country, continues to create its own nuclear and missile capabilities, which causes severe concern not only among global powers, and have closely spaced neighbors.

The growing international isolation of Iran is pushing the Iranian administration to intensify its own foreign policy at the regional level. With all this focus from the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, and Afghanistan, Central Asia and the Caucasus, where the impact of historically Iran has been significant. As it is critical to the public interest and the Russian Federation will not lead to an activity that Iran, as a nudge to the gradual replacement of Moscow's principal strategic regions for it? The relevance of this issue to our country does not cause vibrations that asks of painstaking and profound analysis. Solve this puzzle is quite difficult, forcing a focus on South Caucasus in order to show the main trend of Iran's relations with the countries located in the region from a historical, political, and economic points of view.

HISTORICAL Nuance

In Iran for centuries had a significant impact on the South Caucasus, through which the trade routes from the East to Europe and from Europe to the East. His right to do so, he defended in a fierce struggle with the Ottoman Empire and the Russian Empire. The religious factor only strengthened the opposition: in contrast to the Sunni Turks who ruled Iran in the XVI — first half of the XVIII century, the Safavids were fanatical Shiite, fire and sword imposed their faith. These criteria Russian keenly felt own moral duty to protect fellow Christians (Armenians, Georgians and Ossetians) of an alien faith.

Numerous war Safavid Iran and Ottoman Turkey were conducted with varying success. Final, although far from complete, and the victory was on the side of the Ottoman Turks. Yet in the main remained in force, signed in 1555 in the town of Amasya peace treaty, according to which region of West Georgia — Imereti, Guria Mengrelian and fled into the sphere of influence of the Ottomans, and its eastern areas — Meskhia, Kartli and Kakheti fell under the Safavids. Similarly, in the western and eastern parts of the belligerent powers divided Armenia, allowing Safavids do beylerbeyships Chukhur-Saad, with its capital in Erivan (Yerevan), which included the territory of today's Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic. Modern Azerbaijan at that time was a part of Safavid Iran.

In the XVII century the influence of Iran in the eastern part of the South Caucasus has increased remarkably. For example, in 1633 became the ruler in Carly Iranian protege, professed Islam, Rostom Khan of Bagrationi dynasty. The former governor — Teimuraz was overthrown by an alliance with the Russian sample. Growth Khan Shah strongly showed humility and helped to spread in eastern Georgia Iranian customs. In Eastern Armenia, and then the power of the Iranian shah had no boundaries. So, on the orders of Abbas I in the internal regions of Iran were relocated 250 thousand Armenians who have become a minority in their own national homeland. The same method on Iran if the terrain were more than 200 thousand Georgians in the top of Kakheti.

With the end of the XVII century, a decline of the Safavid dynasty, which led to the gradual release of the South Caucasus from Iranian influence. Nadir Shah was able to stop the process, but in the coming strife emerged that led to the first power of the dynasty of Zenda, and then Qajar. Qajar managed to somewhat stabilize the situation in the country, but in general the era was a time of decline, military defeats, the total municipal impotence and transformation of the country into a semi-colony of the European powers.

RUSSIAN-IRANIAN Confrontation

It also has a long-standing history. Its beginnings can be traced to the middle of the XVII century, and the ending to the 1830s. In these chronological framework can distinguish 5 steps:

— Russian-Iranian local conflict (1651-1653), due to the zeal of the Safavid Iran to subordinate themselves to the North Caucasus;

— "Persian campaign" of Peter I (1722-1723), caused by the desire of the young Russian Empire to break the "window to the East";

— Limited Russian-Iranian war (1796), which was fundamental to the secondary attempt to consolidate the Russian Federation on the coast of the Caspian Sea;

— Large-scale Russian-Iranian war (1804-1813), as an extension of the zone of influence of the Russian Federation in the South Caucasus after the inclusion in the Eastern part of the empire of Georgia;

— Final Russian-Iranian war (1826-1828), due to the dying in vain attempts to return the Iranian powers selected Russian Caucasus area.

According to the Treaty of Gulistan, marking the end of the Russian-Iranian war of 1804-1813, the Karabakh khanate, Ganja, Sheki, Shirvan, Derbent, Guba, Baku and part of the fortress Talishinskaya Lankaran were ceded to Russia. In addition, Iran has refused all claims to Dagestan, Eastern Georgia, Samegrelo, Imereti, Guria and Abkhazia. RF has been granted the exclusive right to have its own navy in the Caspian Sea, and the negotiators of both countries were given the right of free trade.

Signed in February 1828 Turkmanchay treatise provided Capitulations Russian law, in other words the dignity of the Iranians on the ground of their country. To the Russian Empire moved terrain of Nakhchivan khanate, Ordubad neighborhood and Erivan khanate. Iran has pledged to pay war indemnity of 20 million rubles. silver — a huge sum in those days. The parties exchanged missions at the ambassadorial level.

Immediately after the capture of Russian troops Erivan khanate Russian Armenians offered to form an autonomous Armenian principality under Russian protectorate.

Instead of Emperor Nicholas I approved the plan with the creation of the Armenian capital Erevan and Russian managers. In the Armenian area includes land Erivan and Nakhichevan khanates and Ordubad neighborhood, which roughly corresponds to the current location of the Republic of Armenia.

According to Art. 15 of the contract provided for the smooth relocation of residents in Russia Iranian Azerbaijan. The Iranian government has tried to prevent it. All this is from 60 to 100 thousand Armenians then run across for the Araks River, located on the territory of Erivan khanate, Karabakh and Nakhchivan. It was another prerequisite for the further difficulty of Karabakh.

Significant role in the conclusion of the contract profitable for Russia as well as in the resettlement of Armenians played by Alexander Griboyedov which In 1828 he was appointed resident minister (ambassador) to Tehran.

Apparently, he was able to almost all been done in the coming, but on arrival in Tehran was killed by Iranian religious fanatics indirect participation by the British. Introduced diplomatic scandal was settled — including secured and gifts from the treasury of the Persian Shahs (among them, and was now lying in the Diamond Fund of the Russian Fede
ration diamond "Shah").

As throughout the XX century, the impact of Tehran in the South Caucasus was insignificant. Russian Empire, and later the Russian Alliance is not only full control of these areas, and had a significant impact on the northern part of Iran that twice led to the danger of annexation. This situation has changed fundamentally first-1990s, when there was a collapse of the Union of Russian. Iran is, in general, and the Turkish administration tried to take the South Caucasus under his control. More suitable conditions for this have been observed in Turkic Azerbaijan, most of whose population were Shiites. By the mid-1990s, Turkey was able to achieve in this area of success in view of significant ethnic affinity and unquestioned support of Baku on the territorial jurisdiction of Nagorno-Karabakh. Tehran, in turn, supported Yerevan, not allowing full transport blockade of Armenia.

Relations with Armenia

At the current time the Armenian-Iranian affairs are developing quite well. At the end of 2008 to begin deliveries to Armenia Iranian natural gas through the Tabriz-Meghri-Kajaran-Ararat capacity of up to 2.6 billion dollars. cu. meters of gas per year. Payment for the purchased gas supplies to Iran is electricity. The total cost of the project, which was involved in the implementation of the Russian company "Gazprom" has made $ 250 million previously Armenia received only natural gas from Russia via Georgia.

At the current time between Armenia and Iran are two high-voltage power strip, which means between countries with 2 to seasonal vzaimoperetoki electricity. At the moment, construction is considered another such band voltage of 400 kV. The cost of this project is approximately 100 million euros.

Between countries have already built one and two more are being built modern highways, the agreement on the construction of Iran-Armenia the railroad. According to preliminary data, the price of the last amount to 1.8 billion dollars. dollars, of which 1.4 billion. Iran will provide, and the rest — JSC "Russian steel road." Implementation period of the project is 5 years with a yearly traffic volume 3.5 billion. tons. In the coming his plan to raise up to $ 10 billion. tons. The need for this may appear after the opening of the Caspian and the railroad equivalent of the Iran-Pakistan that will allow Armenia to enter the Indian, Central Asian and Russian markets.
Navy of the Islamic Republic of Iran — a very important factor for regional security.

OAO "Gazprom" is ready to participate in the construction of Iran-Armenia oil pipeline and terminal watery fuel capacity to 1.5 million tons, which is of fundamental importance for Armenia fuel. In the framework of bilateral co-operation is also planned construction of Meghri HPP. Price of identified projects is approximately $ 500 million

Yet in 2009, the Iranian-Armenian trade turnover decreased by 35% to January-November of $ 138 million when all the volume of exports from Armenia to Iran has not exceeded $ 17 million (3% of total exports). In the conditions of the act against Tehran for 6 UN Security Council resolutions, as one-sided U.S. sanctions, the Euro Union and a number of leading countries is quite difficult to talk about the significant increase in bilateral trade, even if the contract is signed free trade.

In order to strengthen their political and economic positions in Armenia, the Islamic Republic of Iran has repeatedly offered to Yerevan to export small arms weapons and ammunition, mortars and multiple launch rocket systems, equipment and other property. But the real military-technical cooperation was limited to the supply of Iranian clothing and equipment and long-term storage food items for the armed forces of Armenia. Following the adoption in June 1929 resolution of the UN Security Council the ability to further such cooperation narrowed.

According to some reports, between Iran and Armenia there is a contract on cooperation in the event of war. In accordance with this contract in wartime IRI provides rear of Armenia, and Yerevan prevents the blockade of Iranian countryside and does not allow the application of armed attacks on Iran from that direction. Marketability of such a contract is severe doubt, especially in the case of US-Iranian conflict. In Yerevan, very much value their relationship with Washington and does not rule out the possibility of joining NATO. No matter what kind of shape control of Iranian support today will inevitably lead to a deterioration of relations with the West in general, and dramatically reduce the financial assistance, first from similar diaspora in France and the United States.

At the same time, it should take into account the positive role that Iran has played in the settlement of the Karabakh armed conflict. Prior to 1997, Tehran perceived indirect role in this process by interacting with the Russian diplomatic channels. Later, after the formation of the institution of the OSCE Minsk Group co-Iran Activity in this area has decreased. Yet Tehran continues to offer his services as a mediator in the settlement of the Karabakh problem and that it has a special significance for Russia, opposed the deployment in the zone of the conflict NATO peacekeeping force.

Iran-Azerbaijan Cases

Immediately after the collapse of the Union of Russian Tehran tried to expand its influence in the area of the Republic of Azerbaijan. To do this, the Iranian authorities greatly facilitated the crossing of the border, opened direct air and bus service between the Azerbaijani provinces of Iran and adjacent areas of the country and authorized the bilateral relations at the local level in the areas of trade, education, research and economic cooperation. In addition, Iran has facilitated the entry of Azerbaijan in regional organizations, provided economic and humanitarian assistance, tried to mediate in the settlement of the Karabakh difficulties. In that period, which lasted until 1994, between Baku and Tehran have developed well-meaning, constructive and mutually beneficial business. But in Tehran feared the growth of Azerbaijani separatism because the Iranian administration refused to receive Azeri refugees from Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding regions, but did not prevent their transit through their area.

Later, between Iran and the Republic of Azerbaijan has started to increase conflict, which could lead to the deepest political crisis. In response to the significant strengthening of the US-Azerbaijani relations, creating a potential hazard Iranian national interests, first in the Caspian Sea, Tehran was rapidly developing business and Yerevan. But at the official level Iranian anger management continued to condemn Armenia against Azerbaijan.

Recovery partnership between Baku and Tehran began in 1997, after coming to power in the Islamic Republic of Iran President Mohammad Khatami. The Iranian administration was carried out on the South Caucasus over the equilibrium foreign policy, focusing on the areas of energy and transport. However, significant inter-state tensions have persisted, resulting, for example, in June 2001, to the danger of an attack on Iranian warship ship that made exploration in the Caspian Sea in Azerbaijan's interests.

Intensify bilateral cooperation at the political level could only in 2002, after an official visit to Iran, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev. The main outcome of the visit was the resumption of dialogue on contentious issues such as the status of the Caspian Sea. Immediately a number of documents on cooperation in the field of road construction, customs, transport and communications, culture and sports. The achieved level has promoted mutual understanding to resolve the situation connected with the fact of violation
of Iranian military aircraft in the summer of 2003 the air border of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

The future development of bilateral dialogue at the highest level came in January 2005, when he made the first visit to the new Iranian Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. As part of the visit was made joint political declaration and signed bilateral agreements. Specifically, the parties agreed to join the railway network of 2-states, to build the Baku-Astara highway and construct a hydroelectric power station on the border river Arax. Other than that, it was opened by the representative of Azerbaijan in Tabriz.

It must be emphasized that the potential of the Azerbaijani-Iranian economic cooperation remains unrealized (turnover does not exceed $ 600 million in year). Change the situation is quite difficult due to the zeal of Baku's own independence from its southern neighbor. This is evidenced by the signing of the summer of the current year of the contract on the transit of the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic of Azerbaijan natural gas through Turkey. Previously was used for this purpose Iranian gas.

Despite the significant improvement in Iranian-Azerbaijani relations in recent years, their function as before the next bad reasons. In 1-x, Tehran continues to intensively cooperate with Yerevan, making severe dent in transport blockade of the Armenian countryside and impartially to postpone decisions on the Karabakh difficulties. In-2, the rights of the Azerbaijani diaspora large (by some estimates, its population is 20 million., Which exceeds 25% of the total population) in Iran is constantly restricted. B-3, the Republic of Azerbaijan supports the cramped business with Iran's chief external enemy — the United States, which will inevitably lead to additional tensions in the Iran-Azerbaijan relations, namely on the placement of the South Caucasus U.S. troops. B-4, the uncertainty of the status of the Caspian Sea is not only difficult to use its resources, and makes the conditions for a possible armed conflict between Tehran and Baku. C-5's, the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Azerbaijan as exporters of hydrocarbons are rivals on the European natural gas market.

Relations with Georgia

On the essential convergence of relations between Iran and Georgia signed evidenced November 3, 2010 an agreement on visa-free regime, according to which the citizens of both countries will be able to visit each other for up to 45 days without visas design. In addition, Iran opened an office in Batumi and resumed direct flights between Tbilisi and Tehran, which was interrupted in 2000. By Georgia contributed to this increase is not so much in the two and a half times the number of Iranian tourists or an expectation of a large investment, how much actual failure of Iran to recognize the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the apparent cooling of Russian-Iranian relations and the fact of living in Iran more than 300 thousand Georgians. The Iranian side, apparently, so Makarov is trying to weaken the growing political and economic isolation, to expand the impact of the South Caucasus and completely avoid a possible military strike U.S. / NATO from this direction.

But the Iranian-Georgian trade as before small (IRI provides less than 1% of total imports of Georgia). This makes the imbalance in the development of bilateral relations, which is exacerbated by the lack of common borders and the preservation of intractable differences in culture, religion and language. In addition, the United States as a major military-political and financial support of the present Georgian administration will strongly block the development of such relations.

So Makar, due to historical, cultural, political and economic circumstances, even after the collapse of Russian Union of Islamic Republic of Iran failed to vastly extend her elbows and to expand in the South Caucasus and its influence to get here as a regional power like Turkey or our homeland. This contributed to the following prerequisites:

— A severe confrontation between Tehran and the West, which has led to the introduction against him and one-sided international sanctions, which makes it very unfavorable conditions for the development of economic and political cooperation with Iran located in the region of the state;

— The lack of Iranian allies in the South Caucasus (Iranian-Armenian affairs are more opportunistic in nature in view of the apparent orientation of Yerevan in the military-political sphere to Moscow);

— Accelerating the development of Iran's nuclear and missile programs that against the brutal policies outside of Iran in the region and the lack of missile defense systems in the South Caucasus is fully legitimate concern;

— Very tough and not sufficient to justify Tehran's position on the status of the Caspian Sea.

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