ArmInfo’s interview with Fasih Baderhan, senior research fellow at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Science, Ph.D.
by David Stepanyan
Mr. Baderhan, what are the reasons of Iran's so cautious involvement in the geopolitical processes in the South Caucasus? In this light, Armenia is a certain exception.
Surely, Tehran has big interests in the South Caucasus, but caution is the key factor determining Iran's foreign policy course. Actually, Iran's behavior in the Central Asian vector of its foreign policy is similar. In this light, Tehran's major goal is so far Armenia, a country Iran keeps building serious cooperation with in a number of fields. Such policy is based on the problems with Azerbaijan, on the one hand, and on the problems with Georgia - a country in the orbit of the US policy - on the other hand.
Sure enough, after Geneva, the US undertook a policy of certain rapprochement with Iran, which might mean that Iran's policy in the South Caucasus has changed. Nevertheless, I am sure that this is not the final course of the West in the South Caucasus. They in Tehran are well aware of Russia's intentions in the region. Considering that the relations with the northern neighbor are a priority for Iran, Tehran will hardly go on any steps that may spoil those relations so far. In this light, I think, the South Caucasus peoples should "turn to the north". Historically, the countries in the region have been turning to the power they expected less evil from. They used to turn to Russia, a country that has always been more liberal in both social and religious issues. Considering the latest geopolitical shifts in the region, I don't think that the situation has changed since then.
The Big Middle East has been subjected to geopolitical shakes following the Arab revolutions. What trends do you see in the given situation?
The recent display of the geo-political shifts caused by the Arab revolutions, resulted in the power change in Egypt.
That is to say, it is the Egyptian army that sharply changed geo-strategy in the region. The key evidence of changing the situation is the fact that according to their traditions, Anglo-Saxondom ran towards today's strong player of the region - Iran, undoubtedly.
Incidentally, Teheran has already proved that it is strong. So, at present a new stage of relations is starting between Iran and the West. These relations seem to develop very much seriously.
It is hard to say how these new changes will affect the situation in the region including in the South Caucasus. However, one thing is obvious - Iran is a part of the world Islamism presented, for instance, by "The Brother-Muslims". I am sure that changing of the Iranian policy regarding Egypt, directly linked with power changing from "The Brother-Muslims" to servicemen, has been demonstrating rather a loyal attitude of Teheran to Islamism.
Undoubtedly, Turkey is also a part of the Islam world. Although, in general the Turkish society does not welcome radical Islamism so much, nevertheless, there are such moods in the Turkish society and they are gradually growing. Recep Erdogan's attempts to base himself upon these moods are evidence of that, although 90% of the Turkish society is against his policy regarding Syria. In such conditions, the Anglo-Saxondom has nothing to do but, at least, try to chum in with Iran.
Russia's growing role in the Middle East affairs has become evident after the decisions on the Syrian political crisis. What developments do you anticipate in the given dimension?
In this light, there is need for an Iran-Turkey-Russia triangle. I am not very optimistic about the prospects of such union, indeed, but the interests of these actors coincide in many aspects. I mean the Syrian crisis, and the South Caucasus. Turkey has seriously yielded its positions in both Syria and the South Caucasus. Turkey's leadership is still making boastful official statements, while the reality is quite different. Therefore, Ankara cannot but reckon with Moscow in its actions in Syria and South Caucasus countries.
What consequences will Iran's rapprochement with the West have for the South Caucasus countries?
It is difficult to say now what consequences Iran's rapprochement with the West will have for the South Caucasus countries. However, it is known for certain that if Anglo-Saxons involve in these processes, they will never reckon with the interests of the countries in the region. This was historically proved yet long ago.
Anlgo-Saxons have been traditionally waging, to put it mildly, not so honest policy towards the region. Meanwhile, Russia's policy at the given stage of history is absolutely transparent and honest and in line with the international law. I mean the fight of two global strategies and not ideologies. These are the strategy of Russia and China to preserve the national states, one the one side, and the strategy of Anglo- Saxons to destroy those states, on the other side. The line of contact of these two strategies is now in Syria where the further world order is now being decided.
The Anglo-Saxons have started rather a dangerous and dirty game with Islamism as part of their strategy. In other words, revolutions in the Middle East launched new global restructuring. Meanwhile, the previous restructuring put an end to the West's key rival - the Soviet Union. I am sure that there would be no revolutions in the Arab-Muslim world but for the first restructuring. What will happen after Iran's rapprochement with the West will become clear very soon, anyway.
You have mentioned that Turkey has yielded its positions in the region. Will Iran be able to take the role of Turkey in the region in the context of the latest geo-political shifts?
Nobody has cancelled competition between Turkey and Iran in the region. It is obviously displayed now. Turkey still preserves big chances for leadership in the Sunnite world. Of course, the Shiite Iran is trying to take certain steps for extension of its influence in the Sunnite world. Sometimes, it succeeds, sometimes - not so much. For this reason, at present stage one should not expect that Iran may replace Turkey in the region.
Each of these regional superpowers has its own role in the region. Historically, there were three regional superpowers in the Middle East: Turkey, Iran and Egypt. All the last geo-political shifts have not yet made noticeable changes in this status-quo.