Azerbaijan and Iran after the Sanctions: The Pathways of Advanced Engagement and Confrontation

Azerbaijan and Iran after the Sanctions: The Pathways of Advanced Engagement and Confrontation

Situated in the Caucasus, one of the most geopolitically delicate regions of the world, Azerbaijan has always been careful to build relations with its ‘big neighbours’. Baku is distinguished for its balanced approach to the foreign policy, which tries to manage the balance between the West, Russia, Turkey and, of course, Iran. The ‘balanced foreign policy’ was and is the only way out of the situation – to which nature itself placed Azerbaijan – for Baku to maintain its sovereignty. Therefore, Azerbaijan’s foreign policy, which highlights neutrality between the parties (this is in contrast to the neighbouring Georgia and Armenia’s policy) and balance, can be called ‘specific’. Even so, the Iranian-Azerbaijani relations have a particular specificity. There are many reasons for this. After the Arab conquest (the Islamisation of Iran), Azerbaijanis role in the history of Iran is not less significant than the Persians. For many centuries, they were part of a single state. Since the Islamisation of Iran in the VII century, the predominant number of the dynasties that have established their own state and ruled in Iran, or the region including the territory of modern Iran, have Azeri roots or ethnically were very close to Azerbaijanis. Qajars – the last Iranian dynasty, which had Azerbaijani roots – were overthrown by the Persian Pahlavi dynasty in 1925. Just this factor alone would be sufficient for making the Azerbaijani-Iranian relations specific. Nevertheless, there are other points.

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