1042 GMT May 13, 2021
After 30 years of a fragile truce between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, it was expected that the two countries settle the dispute through a political framework, before in September 2020, the two nations involved in a full-fledged war in the area.
Only this time, Turkey’s engagement suggests a new regional order in Caucasus, Ali Kasiri told Iran Daily in an exclusive interview.
The author of the book ‘Iran Is Not the Only Victim of US Policy’, which focuses on “the long-term interests of the United States government in the future of world system,” says collaborative relations among Iran, Russia, and Turkey will undermine the presence of transregional powers, namely the US, in the Caucasus.
The following is the full text of Kasiri’s views about the threats and opportunities facing Iran in the region:
IRAN DAILY: What was the role of regional powers in the resumption of war in the Nagorno-Karabakh?
ALI KASIRI: Though the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict came as a shock to many analysts of the Caucasus region, I believe the confrontation between Russia and Turkey in northern Syria has triggered proxy wars between Moscow and Ankara in other potential areas such as Caucasus.
The two states are already engaged in proxy conflicts in four other areas, which are Kurdistan, Libya, Yemen, and the Balkans, and a continuing quarrel could also lead to a possible conflict in Chechnya.
Taking all that into account, one can’t rule out role of Russia and Turkey in the recent conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.
There were allegations in section of the Turkish media against Iran during the Nagorno-Karabakh war. Do you think Turkey’s involvement in the Caucasus affairs and the cold war between Moscow and Ankara would pose a threat to Iran’s interests in the region?
We need to assess the interests of the countries before taking notice of the media’s role. In the book ‘Iran Is Not the Only Victim of US Policy’, I predicted that the Caucasus would be soon drawn into the Russia-Turkey confrontation, and that is exactly what happened. Given Russia’s support for Syria’s Democratic Union Party (PYD) and People's Protection Units (YPG), who back the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the Kurdish separatists in Turkey, the ongoing tension between the two countries will undermine Russia’s interests in Caucasus, which could also be considered as a threat to Iran’s interests in the region.
What kind of policy should Iran adopt over the Caucasus issue to safeguard its interests?
Iran’s approach toward the Russia-Turkey rift is of course of great importance. On the one hand, Iran, as a regional ally of Russia in Syria, needs to preserve its ties with Moscow, and on the other hand, Iran will have to offer goodwill to its Muslim neighbor and avoid involvement in the dispute. Overall, I believe the current situation could be considered a golden opportunity for Iran.
The two sides of a conflict will use all in their might to weaken the other one. The cold war between Russia and Turkey reflects the bipolar situation dominating the relations between them. Should the Caucasus dispute be redefined in a trilateral dialogue, it will ease the tensions between Russia and Turkey, and Iran is currently the only country capable of helping establish a tripartite environment.
To what extent do you think Russia and Turkey will be ready to cooperate with Iran toward establishing a trilateral initiative in the region?
A trilateral formula is in the best interests of all parties. A miscalculation by either countries is enough to put Russia and Turkey on the verge of collapsing. So I believe it would be wise for both to welcome Iran’s engagement.
Governments and political powers in the Caucasus will definitely benefit from Iran’s presence. A prolonged confrontation between Turkey and Russia will obviously lead to further proxy wars in the Caucasus and Kurdistan regions, turning the situation into what has been going on in Syria.
What do you think about the US reaction to collaborative relations between Iran, Turkey and Russia?
The experience of negotiations over the Syrian war proves that if the three countries intend to establish regional collaborations, then the US won’t be able to interrupt the warm relations among the three. I am confident that bolstering the ties between Iran, Turkey and Russia will affect Azerbaijan’s relations with the US and Israel, and hence the United States’ penetration into the Caspian Sea basin, limiting the presence of transregional powers in the Caucasus region.
This requires great caution and vigilance on the part of the Iranian side, in particular.