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Azerbaijan-Iran relations are rapidly evolving - Korybko

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12 Punto 14 Punto 16 Punto 18 Punto presents the article "Azerbaijani-Iranian Relations Are Rapidly Evolving To Their Next Natural Phase" by American political expert Andrew Korybko.

Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif's visit to Baku represents the rapid evolution of bilateral relations with Azerbaijan to their next natural phase following the South Caucasus country's glorious victory in last year's Patriotic War. The Islamic Republic's top diplomat praised the successful outcome of that conflict, promised to invest in the liberated territory's reconstruction, expressed excitement for further improving commercial connectivity, supported President Aliyev's six-country regional integration initiative, and welcomed plans to participate in two complementary trilateral meetings between those two countries and Turkey, and them and Russia.

All of this puts to rest the prior speculation about Iran's true attitude towards the recent Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. During the height of hostilities, despite Tehran's official statements of support for Baku, some speculated that the Islamic Republic secretly wanted Yerevan to win. These beliefs were based upon some earlier mistrust between the two civilizational fraternal countries but can now be confidently relegated to an irrelevant part of their past. There's no longer any doubt that Iran solidly supports Azerbaijan in the present day, which is all that matters going forward.

Proverbially speaking, Iran is finally putting its money where its mouth is by promising to reconstruct Nagorno-Karabakh. This speaks to the sincerity of its commitment to invest in tangible stakes in the liberated lands' future, which is imperative if Nagorno-Karabakh is to serve as the fulcrum upon which President Aliyev's visionary six-country regional integration initiative rests. The direct involvement of Iran in these efforts will go a long way towards reinforcing trust between Tehran and Baku, and it can also accelerate their bilateral integration as a crucial axis of Baku's larger regional integration plans.

Iran's relations with Azerbaijan, Russia, and Turkey have markedly improved over the past couple of years. The first-mentioned saw ties strengthen even before last year's conflict after Tehran and Baku agreed to cooperate on the North-South Transport Corridor (NSTC) for connecting Russia to Pakistan and India via their two geostrategically positioned territories. It's important to note that Iran's Tasnim News reported just a few days before Foreign Minister Zarif's visit to Baku that the Iranian Ambassador to Russia met with the deputy chief of Russian Railways to discuss relevant projects. In addition, Zarif left for Moscow after departing from Baku.

Regarding Russian-Iranian relations, these began to take on a qualitatively strategic dimension as a result of their semi-coordinated anti-terrorist operations in Syria. In connection with this and as a result of the Russian-proposed Astana peace process, Iran also began to work much more closely with Turkey too. It bears mentioning that Iran was also one of the first countries to official support Turkish President Erdogan during the failed summer 2016 coup attempt, which greatly contributed to the goodwill that would later manifest itself half a year later at Astana in January 2017.

Foreign Minister Zarif isn't just travelling to Azerbaijan and Russia, but also to the other three countries that comprise President Aliyev's visionary six-party regional integration initiative. It's for this reason that some observers believe that his trip was prompted by the new regional reality that was established after Baku's glorious victory in the Patriotic War and indirectly intended to promote President Aliyev's aforementioned integration proposal between all six of them. It should be a matter of pride that much larger Iran is positively reacting to comparatively smaller Azerbaijan's initiatives, which proves how influential Baku has become lately.

The grand strategic vision that Azerbaijan seeks to advance with Iran is to solidify their comprehensive integration with one another in order to advance the South Caucasus country's dreams of becoming one of the most pivotal states in Eurasia for actualizing trans-continental connectivity. Baku believes that its home region can emerge as a centrepiece in China's Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) which plays a complementary role in Russia's NSTC too. If successful, then Azerbaijan will soon find itself in the middle of European-Chinese and Russian-South Asian trade routes, which will directly lead to the improvement of all its citizens' lives.

2021.01.28 / 13:51
Andrew Korybko
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