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Interview

US Seeking Influence in Central Asia, Caucasus, Iran Can Take it on Using Transit, Energy: Expert

Tuesday 7 November 2023
US Seeking Influence in Central Asia, Caucasus, Iran Can Take it on Using Transit, Energy: Expert

Alwaght- Continuation of Ukraine war and the developments and changes that have taken place in the geopolitics of the Eurasia have turned Central Asia into an important region, to an extent that this region will reveal the geopolitical ambitions of geopolitical competitions and strategic interests that have long existed in it. In fact, the position of Central Asia turns it into a geostrategic magnet attracting world powers. 

Now and especially after the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Western countries are increasingly turning their focus on Central Asia and South Caucasus. Meanwhile, several questions are asked in this regard by analysts who have presented various analyses. Seeking answers to its questions, Alwaght has arranged an interview with Ismail Baqeri, an expert of Central Asian affairs. 

Alwaght: What is the influence of the Central Asian countries on South Caucasus? 

Baqeri: Since Central Asia and South Caucasus are of high geopolitical significance for a variety of reasons, multiple big actors with different and sometimes conflicting interests create blocs with regional states and push to broaden their influence in these two strategic regions. 

Additionally, because of the Russian confrontation with the US and NATO in Ukraine and even in Syria, the US has built a foothold in Central Asian countries through United States Agency for International Development and other NGOs. They have evil goals and under the ruse of regional security and stability, they hold summits that practically target regional security and are meant to open a new front primarily against Russian, and then Chinese, interests and security. 

In South Caucasus, the United States takes advantage of Turkey’s role. Turkey, while pursuing its own interests and goals and those of the Union of Turkic countries, in practice defends American and Israeli projects in Azerbaijan. With this prelude, I give a short answer to your question. First of all, it should be said that the term Central Asia and not Middle Asia is correct based on the same logic that finds the term West Asia and not Middle East correct. Westerners create these terms based on the closeness to or distance from them. 

Regarding the position and influence of Central Asia in South Caucasus, I must say that the relations of the Central Asian states with Caucasus have had many ups and downs, but obviously after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the republics of Central Asia gained their independence in 1999 and their political and economic ties continued at a certain level. However, their relations entered is new stage over the past two years. The most important issues concerning Central Asian states that can impact South Caucasus are economy, energy, gas transit, and the transit routes. 

We should know that Central Asian states are directly and indirectly under influence of the West that seeks to divide them from Russia and China. The economic incentives the West provides to Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan are part of this Western agenda. But it should be taken into consideration that the key point is regional security, and presence of destabilizing actors in the future will render the regional economic and trade interactions vulnerable. 

I should add that Central Asian states, especially Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, seek to expand ties with Caucasus states especially Azerbaijan and Turkey as its neighbor in order to get rid of the geopolitical deadlock, diversify their business ties with Europe and the West, and boost their exports and imports. Besides, these countries want to break from restrictions of Russian policy. 

In recent years, the Israeli regime as the West’s ally has penetrated various institutions of Central Asian countries in pursuit of its goals under the guise of contribution to economic development and agriculture and also by founding NGOs and ostensibly non-governmental companies. 

In fact, one of the reasons encouraging these countries to bolster ties with Caucasus is that the Turkish, NATO, and covertly Israeli, bloc is pushing for influence expansion in Central Asia and practically endanger the Russian, Chinese, and Iranian interests with their destructive policies. 

From another aspect, Central Asian countries are stuck in a geopolitical impasse. In other words, they have no direct access to the high seas despite the strategic importance of their political geography, and this makes Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan welcome any power that puts them in its attention. These countries specifically want to move out of the political and security umbrella of Russia and engage in new relations with such effective actors as the United States, China, the European Union, and Turkey. 

Meanwhile, taking advantage of the Caspian Sea, geopolitical capacity of Caucasus, and the Turkish-favorded Zangezor Corridor of Azerbaijan to build interactions with Europe and the United States is crucial to Central Asian countries, especially that Turkic countries are pushing for realization of Turkic World bloc. 

Albeit, it should be noted that Iran’s emphasis on unchangeability of international borders has practically sidelined Zangezor Corridor project and Iran’s transit route connects Azerbaijan to Nakhchivan and Turkey. Recently, a protocol for China-Europe trade corridor through Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, and Turkey was signed by representatives of the Economic Cooperation Organization. 

Alwaght: What interests do Central Asian states follow in Caucasus? 

Baqeri: Central Asia needs the geography of Caucasus for the transit of goods and especially its energy, as it does for diversifying its transit routes and economic relations with Turkey and Europe. In addition, in order to get rid of the geopolitical deadlock and dependence on Russia and even China, the geography of Caucasus is needed. 

Turkey, NATO, and the United States’ attention to Central Asia has recently increased and the multi-million American aids to regional countries are kind of incentives for them to encourage their interactions with South Caucasus. This works only if, firstly, security is protected and Caucasus stays away from radicalism, secondly, transit routes and infrastructures are provided, and, thirdly, big actors do not put the skids under expansion of these relations. 

Alwaght: What is Iran’s approach to the two important regions of Central Asia and South Caucasus? 

Baqeri: Iran cannot obstacle Central Asian relations with Caucasian countries, but it can follow its interests in some issues. Swap of Central Asia’s energy, especially Turkmenistan’s, to Iraq and Turkey, encouraging Central Asian states to use its transit routes from Sarakhs to Maku and Bazargan or from Sarakhs to Bandr Abbas Port and Port of Chabahar to link them to South and West Asia, India, and Pakistan are the issues Iran can pursue. 

Also, Iran should inform some countries, especially Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, of evil intentions of Washington and the United States Agency for International Development that provide millions of dollars in aid under the ruse of backing the fight against radicalism and protecting stability in Central Asia but actually follow a project to build influence. 

 

Tags :

Central Asia Caucasus US Russia Iran Zangezor

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