Regional Power Rivalries in the New Eurasia: Russia, Turkey, and Iran

By Alvin Z. Rubinstein; Oles M. Smolansky | Go to book overview

buffer zone into an area of competition between these immediate and highly interested outsiders.

A greatly altered environment necessitates reassessment of long-held assumptions about the aims and behavior of Russia, as well as of Iran and Turkey. It also requires an analysis of the goals pursued by the local elites in Transcaucasia and Central Asia, some of whom (particularly in the Caucasus) are torn between determination to consolidate their power and a desire to alter the territorial boundaries that Stalin capriciously cobbled for service in another epoch. In the meantime, however, the freedom of action of all of the newly independent republics remains severely circumscribed by the realization that they remain heavily dependent on Russia economically, technically, and even militarily; and they have very limited access to the outside world. Such vulnerability need not in and of itself contravene the nation-building process or the institutionalization of political power and national assertiveness. Much will depend on the extent to which the personal ambitions and national goals of the leaders are consonant with fostering domestic development, accommodation with old adversaries, and regional stability. Equally important will be the role of Russia. Will it remain satisfied with accepting the post-Soviet reality or will it insist on reestablishing its military, economic, and political influence, if not direct control, over the former parts of the empire?

In exploring the relations of some of the newly independent former Soviet republics of Transcaucasia and Central Asia with Russia, Iran, or Turkey, it may be useful to draw upon the experiences of other Third World countries with the Soviet Union and the United States during the heyday of the Cold War. Two lessons, in particular, seem relevant. First, in the past, many Third World governments elicited military and economic support, often far beyond their needs, from Washington or Moscow. In the thrall of their mutual fascination, the superpowers often underestimated the extent to which they were, in turn, being used by their clients. In their quest for strategic advantage vis-à-vis one another, the United States and the Soviet Union took on whichever clients were available, subsidizing them lavishly in the process. But the Cold War is over and, as a consequence, local leaderships must look to their security and developmental needs without the luxury of a reliable patron-protector.

Second, the former Soviet republics need to tailor ambitions to capabilities. Excessive reliance on a great power can warp a leadership's priorities, encouraging a militarization of politics and foreign policy and a preoccupation with staying in power at the expense of democratization and the development of an economically viable political system. Too often in the past, Third World elites proclaimed their commitment to

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Regional Power Rivalries in the New Eurasia: Russia, Turkey, and Iran
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • About the Editors And Contributors vii
  • Preface ix
  • Note xii
  • Part I- Old Rivals, New Relationships 1
  • 1: The Russian Federation and Turkey 3
  • 2: Moscow and Tehran The Wary Accommodation 26
  • Part II- Cis and Iran 63
  • 3: Ukraine and Iran 65
  • 4: Azerbaijan and Iran 93
  • 5: Iran and Tajikistan 112
  • Part III- The Turkish Factor 145
  • 6: Iran and Turkey Confrontation Across An Ideological Divide 147
  • 7: Turkey and Central Asia Reality Comes Calling 169
  • Part IV A Russian "Monroe Doctrine" In the Making? 199
  • 8: Russia and Transcaucasia The Case of Nagorno-Karabakh 201
  • 9: Russia and Tajikistan 231
  • 10: The Asian Interior The Geopolitical Pull on Russia 252
  • Conclusion 271
  • Index 279
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