Politics: Iran and South Caucusus: Seeking to shepherd Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia into Iran's orbit
In the widely respected online and print journal, Foreign Policy, an important 2-page dispatch on the Georgian Republic, Azerbaijan, and Armenia (the trio are often gathered in the significant geopolitical expression "South Caucusus") is offered by author Haley Sweetland Edwards, "Iran's Near Abroad: Beset by global sanctions, Iran's leaders go local" (Sept20,2k10). [Here "local" means "regional."]
The nations of the South Caucasus -- all of which receive U.S. aid, investment and support to one degree or another -- have accepted Tehran's recent overtures of friendship graciously, but cautiously. Georgia alone has received a whopping $4.5 billion from Western funders in the past two years, and can't afford to burn bridges with Washington.While Georgia is nominally Christian (Georgian Orthodox Church) and Armenia with its affiliated enclave deep in Azeri territory, Nagorno-Karabakh are also nominally Christian (Armenian Apostolic Church), Azerbaijan is Shia Muslim.
"We're in a kind of Bermuda triangle here. Georgia needs U.S. support, but it needs friendly relations with its neighbors, too," says Alexander Rondeli, president of the Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies in Tbilisi. While the United States has watched Iranian influence in the region closely, it has not yet insisted its allies cut ties with Tehran. "They understand we are a small nation, stuck in the middle. We have Iranian investors, Israeli investors, Turkish investors. We can't afford to alienate anyone. It is in our interest to keep Russia from having all the cards here," Rondeli says.
The resulting tug-wars also turn on Russia's extra-territorial ambitions as evidenced during the Bush Administration, when Russia used its split-off Georgian provincial ally of South Ossetia, to justify armed invasion of Georgia proper. (Oct8,2k08) Now, Georgia is entering into economic deals with Iran, which is only some 800 miles away, while attempting to ward of the voracious Russia, and also retaining its foremost ally in the world, the USA. (The Bush Administration wisely decided not to give armed support to Georgia at the time, and for the longest time Pres. Obama shrugged off the country and its people.)
Why the Georgia-Iran deal-making?
Rookmaker Club for Geopolitical Strategy
Georgia seeks to break out of its cul-de-sac situation on the level of economic development. Again, while the USA funds its ally, it can't offer what Iran can. Says analyst-reporter Edwards, the reason for the Iranian move toward rapprochement with Georgia and vice versa is "energy." Georgia presently at Russia's mercy on that score. With a pipeline and a railroad financed by Iran, Georgia woud be able to asserta a bit it's economic and development independence.
At the moment, of coourse, Iran's leader Ahmadhi-Nejab is holding forth at the United Nations in New York City. Wall Street Journal carries this news note as a teaser to lure subscribers (you can get the full article without paying up, darn 'em!). The unavailable article, "US opens window for Iran talks" is by Jay Solomon and Richard Boudreaux (Sept22,2k10)
The Obama administration said Iran has offered new signs of a willingness to negotiate on its nuclear program, as Washington and other world powers pressed at the United Nations for an immediate resumption of a dialogue with Tehran. The comments, made by senior U.S. officials on Wednesday, came a day after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told American journalists in New York that he saw no "alternative" but to resume negotiations with the international community on the nuclear issue.Couple this with revelations in the new Woodward book, Obama's Wars, that he thinks the USA can simply "absorb" terrorist attacks with his foot-dragging in the defense of Israel when Iran constitutes a "near and present danger" to our only ally in the MidEast, to put the Obama-Clinton envisaged talks with Iran and also the Bush policy being followed in regard to the Georgian Republic, into a geopolitical context, you will find yourself with much musing to pursue on these present realities.
Still, U.S. and European officials said they remain skeptical of Tehran's desire to negotiate an agreement to end or limit the Iranian [nuclear project].