Brothers or Comrades at Arms? Iran’s Relations with Armenia and Azerbaijan
The significance of religion to the political identity of Iran is made obvious by its self-designation as an Islamic Republic. This is complicated further by instances where Iran appears to favor non-Muslim states in their conflicts with Muslim peoples, seemingly at odds with the core values outlined in the 1979 Constitution. The Caucasus is one area where this accusation has been leveled against Tehran. In appreciation of the sensitivity and fragility of the region, successive Iranian administrations have fashioned themselves as unbiased arbiters in their diplomatic engagements with these states. Rather than “spreading the Islamic Revolution,” the Islamic Republic has displayed pragmatism, not interfering in the Chechen and Dagestani conflicts, for example.1 In the oft-cited case of Armenia over Azerbaijan, both of which have been in a state of war over the Karabagh region for the past quarter of a century, Iran has long been understood to favor its only Christian neighbor over its (Shi’a) Muslim rival. Although Tehran has always denied the allegation, this interpretation is pervasive in both Armenia and Azerbaijan, and it is one of the issues that current President Hassan Rouhani and his foreign minister Dr. Mohammad Javad Zarif have had to address to reset relations with Azerbaijan during their first term in office.
KeywordsForeign Policy Foreign Minister Islamic Republic News Agency Iranian Government
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- 4.Pierre Pahlavi, and Afshin Hojati, “Iran and Central Asia: The Smart Politics of Prudent Pragmatism,” in The New Central Asia: The Regional Impact of International Actors, ed. Emilian Kavalski (Singapore: World Scientific Publishing Co, 2010), 223.Google Scholar
- 5.T.V. Paul, Power Versus Prudence: Why Nations Forgo Nuclear Weapons (Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press, 2000), 5.Google Scholar
- 6.Pierre Bourdieu, “What Makes a Social Class? On the Theoretical and Practical Existence of Groups,” Berkeley Journal of Sociology, 32 (1987): 4.Google Scholar
- 7.Mahmoud Sariolghalam, “Sources of Continuity in Iran’s Foreign Policy,” in Gulf Economics and Politics in a Changing World, ed. Michael Hudson and Mimi King (Singapore: World Scientific Publishing Co, 2014): 168.Google Scholar
- 8.Eric Hobsbawn, “Introduction: Inventing Traditions,” in The Invention of Tradition, ed. Eric Hobsbawm et al. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983): 1.Google Scholar
- 9.Gerard Libaridian, Modern Armenia: People, Nation, State (New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 2004), 206.Google Scholar
- 10.Shireen Hunter, The Transcaucasus in Transition: Nation Building and Conflict (Washington: The Centre for Strategic and International Studies, 1994), 100.Google Scholar
- 11.Alexei Vassiliev, “Turkey and Iran in Transcaucasia and Central Asia,” in From the Gulf to Central Asia: Players in the new Great Game, ed. Anoushiravan Ehteshami (Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 1994), 134.Google Scholar
- 12.Julien Zarifian “Christian Armenia, Islamic Iran: Two (Not So) Strange Companions,” Iran andthe Caucasus, 12 (2008): 131.Google Scholar
- 14.See Houri Berberian, Armenians and the Iranian Constitutional Revolution of 1905–1911 (Boulder: Westview Press, 2001), 83Google Scholar
- Vartan Gregorian, The Road Home: My Life and Times (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2000), 41.Google Scholar
- 19.Abdollah Ramezanzadeh, “Iran’s role as Mediator in the Nagorno-Karabagh Crisis,” in Contested Borders in the Caucasus, ed. Bruno Coppieters (Brussels: VUB Press, 1996), 166.Google Scholar