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

by Ahmad Alili, Researcher, Center for Economic and Social Development (Azerbaijan)

The nuclear deal reached by the E3/EU+3 and Iran has a great historic significance for the world; especially for the regions bordering with Iran. In this regard, Azerbaijan, also bordering with Iran, is awaiting crucial political and economic reorganisation at its southern borders. It is expected, after the sanctions being lifted off, Iran becoming different, getting stronger in economic and political terms. How it is going to affect the Azerbaijani-Iranian relations? This article by Ahmad Alili tries to get into the essence of the issue and reveal the possible scenarios for the development of the relations between Iran and Azerbaijan.

In the analytical paper, Iran and Azerbaijani relations are considered as ‘specific’ because of the historical background of the two countries and former interactions. The author tries to reveal the historical factors shaping the Iranian policy toward Azerbaijan starting from the regained independence from the Soviet Union. Defining religion and ethnicity as the key elements influencing the mutual ‘friendly’ hostility, the author moves forward and demonstrates the consequences of these actions in the recent history of Azerbaijani-Iranian relations.

By shedding light on these factors, the author tries to foresee how they can evolve in the ‘after the sanctions’ period. There are two, (a) negative and (b) positive scenarios. The negative scenario is build on the assumptions that Iran will use its resources to impose own ambitions on Azerbaijan, after becoming stronger. The positive scenario is derived from the expectations for the deregulation of the Iranian economy. The weakening political influence over the economic social institutions in Iran will lead to the deatachment of political ambitions and economic rationality. It is expected that with the western nations willing to invest to the Iranian economy, Tehran has to take steps for deregulation of the economy. Under this condition, the positive scenario will take place, and the cooperation between Iran and Azerbaijan will deepen.

The Russian version of the article was published at Russkii Vopros Magazine in November 2015. Please visit:

You can download the Russian version of the article here

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