The New Great Game and Iran: Iran's Foreign Policy in Central Asia in Post-Soviet Era

11 June 2008
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Geographically, Central Asia is the vast landlocked region which is surrounded by Caspian Sea in the West, Tian Shan Mountains in the East  and North-East, Hindu Kush mountains in the South and the Kazakh steppe (or Dasht- e Qipchak) in the North.


It contains the young states of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, which became independent after the disintegration of Soviet Union in 1991. The region is sometimes called Turkistan due to the fact that it is largely populated by Turkic peoples. Although heterogeneous, the populations of these new republics are predominantly Turkic origin except that of Tajikistan, which speaks Persian. Another common characteristic of the population of the region is religion. The region is heavily populated by Muslims which are of the Sunni sect.

The collapse of Soviet Union and establishment of new weak states created a power vacuum that led to active involvement of extra-regional states. Since the Soviet Union had withered away the Central Asia and was busy with its own economic problems, there was the question of who would fill the vacuum. Remained as the single superpower, the United States used the breakdown of Soviets and emergence of the new militarily weak states as a chance to extend its hegemony to Central Asia. Yet, although the Central Asian Soviet Republics became independent, it increasingly became clear that Russia was unwilling to leave the region and continued to perceive it as its sphere of influence.


Another power which tried to benefit from the power vacuum was Iran whose interest in Central Asia stemmed from several reasons. First of all, it was unavoidable for Iran not to be included in the political process of Central Asia due to its proximity to the region and one of the new states, Turkmenistan, being its neighbor. Secondly, the nature of the Iranian political system, i.e., Islamic Republic, required Iran to pay careful attention to the new states because of their dominant Muslim populations. Iran perceived the co-religionist neighboring republics as an area where it could export the Islamic Revolution. It thought it could pioneer the new Muslim states to establish Islamic governments resembling that of Iran.


Because of the hostile relationship between Iran and United States, the breakdown of the Soviet Union was undesirable by Iran, which already had security problems. The Soviet Union was Iran’s main ally for its confrontation against the United States and its disintegration meant loss of a great ally and major weapon supplier for Iran. The increasing US activities in the region furthered Iran’s sense of insecurity and forced it to establish good relations with the governments of the new states.


The purpose of this study is to shed some light on Iran’s foreign policy in Central Asia in the aftermath of Soviet fall. It aims at explaining the general facets of its relations vis-à-vis the new Central Asian states and the other concerned countries, such as Russia, the United States, and Turkey. This study will try to provide answers to the basic question of how Iran has positioned itself against the new Central Asian countries, which were investigating the ways to establish their state apparatuses. In order to do so, one needs to understand in what directions the Islamic Revolution of 1979 shaped Iran’s foreign policy, before and after the collapse of USSR and how it evolved thereafter.


This study has centered on two basic parts. In the first part which is about Iran’s foreign policy after 1979 Islamic Revolution, the author plans to talk about how the Islamic revolution shaped Iran’s perception of world politics, how Iranian foreign policy has evolved in 1990s and lastly what constraints Iran has had in world politics. The second part is on Iran’s foreign policy in Central Asia after the disintegration of Soviet Union. It will deal with what kind of position Iran took after the disintegration of the Soviet Union and how Iran approached the new Muslim Turkic states. The pro-Russian policy is another subject that will be discussed in this part. Lastly, Iran’s economic cooperation with its neighbors will be addressed, dwelling specifically on the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO).


Iran’s Foreign Policy after the 1979 Revolution

Iran is a semi-landlocked country whose only access to sea is through Persian Gulf in the south. It is strategically located at the cardinal commercial and military routes and it has been a bridge between Asia and Europe. Its enclosure by mountain series has helped Iran to develop a distinct cultural identity. Yet, the same geopolitics has separated the Iranian Shiite identity from Persian speaking Tajikistan and Afghanistan, which are heavily Sunni. (1)

The Iranian foreign policy after the 1979 Islamic revolution was a reaction to the Pahlavi regime. Since it was a bipolar world where the international system was dominated by the United States and the Soviet Union, they were both rejected by Khomeini.  According to Khomeini, the world was divided into two camps: the Western camp which followed the capitalist US and the Eastern camp which followed the socialist Soviet Union. The early revolutionary government declared that Iran would follow a policy based on the idea of non-alignment which was characterized by Khomeini’s slogan “Na sharqi- Na qarbi” (Neither East nor West).(2)

Khomeini’s motto of “Neither East nor West” held the Islamic Republic above these two camps and claimed to be unique and alternative. However, in order for the Islamic Revolution to continue, it had to be spread it to the other countries, too. Khomeini said, “We should try hard to export our revolution to the world . . . . [All] the superpowers and all the other powers have risen to destroy us. If we remain in an enclosed environment, we shall definitely face defeat.” (3) He claimed that Iran was the single independent country which was in the “right path”. Therefore, Khomeini and his followers called their struggle with US and even Iraq as the war between “Haq va Batıl” (Truth and Falsehood). (4) Khomeini also said, “When we say we want to export our revolution, we mean we would like to export this spirituality which dominates Iran. We have no intention to attack anyone with swords and other arms.”(5)


While the enemy was the West, the Arab countries were also the target of Iranian criticism for being allies of the West. The Iran-Iraq war of 1980-1988 was Iran’s first step in gaining hegemony in the Middle East and the Gulf region. “The way to Jerusalem goes through Karbala” was the motto of Iraqi war which meant that the Islamic Revolution in Middle East could be realized by annihilation of Israel via destruction of the Arab regimes starting with Iraq which had a majority of Shiite population.(6)  Yet, the ceasefire with Iraq in July 1988 meant that the road to Jerusalem through Karbala did not go anymore and that Iran had accepted the status quo in the Middle East.


Iran’s war with Iraq helped the Iranian leadership better understand domestic and international questions and give priority to national interests in rebuilding of the country in post-war period. Towards the last years of Khomeini, Iran lessened its vocal condemnation of the Soviet Union because of the need for Soviet weaponry to maintain the Iran-Iraq War. Therefore, albeit Khomeini called Soviet Union as Little Satan, he did little to appeal the Muslim population of Soviet Union. Moreover, Iran did not react harshly to Soviet invasion of Afghanistan as many predicted as it did not want undermine its relations with the Soviet Union.(7)


By the 1990s the idea of stressing the ideological dimensions of the revolution and exporting it as far as possible had relatively lost its fervor. With the death of Khomeini, the more moderates gained power. 1989-97 presidency of Hojjatolislam Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani strengthened the process of pragmatism in post-Khomeini period. Rafsanjani stated that Revolution’s principles could be sustained by rational (ma’qul) and logical (manteqi) policy. He also said: “We must not be radical in our revolutionary stance and not abandon the principles and values in our handling of affairs. We are not dogmatic. We do not support absolutism.”(8)


With the election of President Mohammed Khatami in 1997, Iran had more inclination for a pragmatic and national interest-based policy. Just after his election, President Khatami announced that Iran wanted peace and stability in the international arena. He opted for a less conciliatory view by using “detente” and “dialogue of civilizations” (9) He called for a more transparent policy towards the West.(10) Therefore, Khatami has been characterized as Iranian Gorbachev. He tried to build good relations with some Arab states, and made a number of state visits to Western countries, such as France, Italy, Germany, and Japan.(11)


As the hopes for an international Islamic Revolution vanished, the Iranian leadership began to emphasize on Iran as a nation. The prominence of Iran as a great nation became public more and more to the extent that even Khomeini’s term of millet-i bozorg (the great nation) were written on the walls of Tehran. While stress on nationalism has given Iranian statesmen more support of the Iranian public opinion in dealing with the foreign policy questions, it has also shaped its perception of other peoples in the region. Ayatollah Khamane’I, for example, called the Afghan movement as juhul (ignorant), and stated that Persian not Arabic is the true language of Islam.(12)


One aspect of the post-1979 Revolution was its hostility towards the US. Since the Islamic revolution overthrew the Pahlavi regime, a close ally of US, the revolution was anti-American which was culminated in the so-called Hostage Crisis when the supporters of the revolution took control of US embassy on November 4, 1979 and held 66 US citizens there for 444 days. The Hostage Crisis further antagonized Iran’s relations with the US. The Iranian Revolutionaries have characterized the US as the “Great Satan” because of its unconditional support of Israel. On the other hand, although Iran and Iranians did not have any role in September 11 attacks, Bush administration categorized Iran among the “axis of evil”. (13) Currently, as the US has overthrown Iraqi Bathist regime and has been closer to Iran, it means US threat is more intensified. Iran thinks the way to deter the US is in the development of nuclear weapons which is now Iran’s major foreign policy issue.(14)


Iran’s Foreign Policy in Central Asia after the Disintegration of Soviets

The collapse of Soviet Union and emergence of a number of new Turkic and Muslim states in Central Asia was a very important event for the Iranian foreign policy. First of all, instead of one state there were now five more states in Central Asia. Secondly, all of these countries were Turkic and Muslim except Tajikistan. The disintegration of the Soviet Union brought about discussions on which model the new states would take example: the Islamic Republic of Iran or secular democratic Turkey?


On the one hand, Iran aimed at benefiting from the vacuum that was created by the disappearance of Soviet Union. On the other hand, the US administration was anxious that Iran would use this opportunity to extend its influence to Central Asia. The US feared that Iran would back radical Islamic movements in these new Muslim countries and create Islamic regimes that were loyal to Iran. Thus, it urged the Turkic states to adopt Turkish model which was based on secularism, liberal democracy and free market economy. In 1992 the then US Secretary of State James Baker, during a trip to Central Asian capitals, stated that the newly independent countries should adopt the secular and democratic Turkish model for their political and economic development.(15)

As the region is predominantly Muslim, Iran has sought to improve cultural relations by stressing Islam. The Iranian government supported semi-governmental foundations such as Bonyad-e Mostazafan and Bonyad-e Shahid and it attempted to direct the religious revival in Central Asian countries by distributing religious books, broadcasting Iranian television and radio, training mullahs in Iranian religious schools, and opening schools and mosques in Central Asian countries. However, it was clear that the new republics were not very willing to pursue any model like that of Iran or Turkey. Eventually, they evolved into secular authoritarian regimes with heavy political ties to Russia. These land-locked Central Asian states had to continue to rely heavily on Russian transportation and communication network.(16)

The Taliban’s grasp of power in Afghanistan and various tensions within the republics have led them to perceive Islamic extremism as the most dangerous threat in the region.(17) The presence of Islamic opposition has even made the Central Asian governments to be suspicious of Iran. Furthermore, the “War on Terror” in post-9/11 period has made these republics vigorous participants of US campaign against terrorists based in Afghanistan.(18)

Due to the sensitiveness of the Central Asian countries to Islamic opposition in their countries, Iran had to decrease its stress on Islamic precedence. In October 1993, Iran’s president Rafsanjani visited all central Asian states except Tajikistan, where there was a civil war. There were many ministerial level visits and agreements covering political, economic, and cultural issues. When Rafsanjani made visits to Central Asia he rarely discussed Islamic policies and his emphasis was on regional stability, development and increasing the mutual relations.(19)  Because of given little place of Islam in agreements, the radicals in Iran criticized Rafsanjani for not emphasizing religion.(20)


Iran’s foreign policy in Central Asia basically relies on having good relations with other great powers, such as Russia, China, EU and the other regional powers in order to thwart the US threat. Iran wants to have a balance of power because it feels heavy US containment due to presence of US military bases in the region (Manas Airbase, in the Gulf, in Iraq and Afghanistan) and activities of the US allies such as Turkey and Israel, the latter being the major issue of confrontation. Although supported by Iran and Russia, the elimination of Taliban regime, the US invasion of Afghanistan, has increased sense of US containment on the Iranian and Russian sides, which are forced into more strategic cooperation.(21)


After the disintegration of Soviet Union, although busy with economic problems, it became clear that Russia still regarded Central Asia as part of its sphere of influence. Therefore, to counter the US threat Iran has aimed at establishing good relations with Russia. The repprochement between Moscow and Tehran had begun towards the end of Gorbachev era. The relations between the two countries were strengthened by Rafsanjani’s visit to Moscow in June 1989. Among the agreements that were reached with this visit was military cooperation which provided Iran with the chance of purchasing highly sophisticated military aircraft from Russia at a time when Iran needed to renew its military industry after the eight year of war with Iraq.(22)


When Iran realized Russian concern in the region, it immediately acknowledged this interest and has followed a certain policy which would not harm Russian interests. This was the basic reason for Iranian delay in recognizing Azerbaijan’s independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 until the disintegration of  Soviet Union.(23)  As the civil war between the ex-communists and democratic Islamist coalition in Tajikistan reached climax in 1992-1993, Iran did not intervene to help the Islamist coalition. Although the Tajiks are historically and culturally linked to Iran and speak Persian, Iran could not help them because it could not risk its relations with Russia. Support to Tajik Islamist opposition would damage its relations with Russia.(24)


One of the main areas of Russian-Iranian cooperation is in nuclear issues. Beginning in 1995, Moscow has assisted Iran in building a nuclear reactor at the port of Bushehr at the worth of about one billion dollars. The presence of 1000 Russian and Ukrainian engineers and technicians in Bushehr plant proves the amount of Russian cooperation. The Russian support with sending Russian engineers and technicians provides Iran with the chance for technology transfer and train Iranian nuclear experts.(25)   The US has strongly opposed the completion of the reactor and has urged Russia to stop supporting the construction. As Iran’s secret uranium enrichment project was revealed in November 2003 (by the Iranian opposition in diaspora), the US has tried to persuade Russia to stop cooperation with Iran. However, meeting Putin at Bratislava in February 2005, Bush failed to stop Russian support for Iran.(26)  After his meeting with Iranian Security Chief Hasan Rohani in Moscow, Putin declared that Russia has been convinced that Iran does not plan to have nuclear weapons.(27)


Currently, although there are slight ups and downs in its relations with Iran, Russia also finds it strategically crucial to have good relations with Iran. First of all, Russia does not want the US to have more power in the Persian Gulf. Secondly, Russia does not want to see an Iran which disturbs Russian interests in Central Asia. Thirdly, Russia needs Iran to keep quiet about the Chechen problem and fourthly, Iran stands as insurance for Russia in Organization of Islamic Conference against resolutions that would threaten Russian interests.(28)

Economic Cooperation

With pragmatism in Iranian foreign policy in early 1990s Iranian leadership sought the ways to improve economic ties with the newly independent Central Asian countries. Iran signed many bilateral and multilateral agreements with these new countries. Visa restrictions were eased and new border crossings were opened. New shipping routes from Iran to Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan were established at Caspian Sea. To improve regional cooperation free trade zones were instituted in Sarakhs (on the border with Turkmenistan) and Bandar Anzali (Caspian port). Iran gives special importance to Turkmenistan, which is the single Central Asian state that borders with Iran. Among the former Soviet Republics, Iran’s closest relations are with Turkmenistan. A 300-km railway which links Mashad to Turkmenistan’s Tejen was opened in 1996. The Mashad-Tejen railway is Iran’s first connection to Central Asian rail network. The 200-km pipeline between Kurdköy and Körpece in Turkmenistan has made Iran a bridge for Turkmen gas to Europe.(29)


Iran's Central Asian policy under the current president, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad is also based on certain pragmatic considerations which can be seen in his last visit to Central Asia in last July. Turkmenistan was the first destination in Ahmedinejad’s visit in the region. As Iran is a gas importer, Turkmenistan is the second largest gas producer in former Soviet Republics. Thus, Iran intends to solve its gas shortage from Turkmen gas.


Tajikistan is also an essential Central Asian state with which Iran has got considerable economic and cultural relations. When Ahmedinejad visited Tajikistan in last January, he made several agreements related to industry and trade. He has been the first Iranian president to visit Tajikistan after its independence. After Ahmedinejad’s visit, the Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov described Tehran-Dushanbe cooperation as beneficial for regional peace and stability. Ahmedinejad declared that the common language and cultural heritage shared by Iran-Tajikstan encourages the both countries to have strong bilateral relations. He said, “Tajikistan and Iran are like one soul in two bodies. Iran and Tajikistan share so many cultural and historical affinities that none of us feel like there is a non-Iranian here, and the Tajik president also does not feel that there is a non-Tajik person at this gathering.”(30)


The Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) is an important alternative for Iran in order to sustain regional cooperation and security. It was founded by Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan in 1985 to promote economic, technical, and cultural cooperation among the founding states. In 1992, it was joined by Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan immediately after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. The inclusion of the new Central Asian states has given the organization a more vital position. Tehran has perceived the ECO as an opportunity towards establishment of an Islamic economic and political union.(31)


The ECO’s permanent secretariat is in Tehran. The ECO has technical committees and specialized institutions, such as ECO shipping company, air project, chamber of commerce, trade and development bank, and various directorates. It serves as an opportunity to discuss regional disputes. However, the clash of interests of Iran, Azerbaijan and Turkey causes deadlock in the execution of the ECO projects.(32)


The Caspian dispute is one of the important issues in Iran’s relations with some of the new Central Asian states. The Caspian Sea is the largest lake on the Earth. Russia, Iran Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan have boundaries with the sea. The fact that the sea has got rich oil and gas reserves makes it a bone of contention among the littoral states. The main problem is the status of Caspian whether it should be regarded as a sea or lake. If it is a sea, it will be subjected to international law and foreign vessels will be permitted on the sea. However, if it is a lake the problem will be solved by the states, which have borders with the sea.(33)

Iran rejects Caspian to be a sea so as to prevent foreign countries and their companies, especially US, to be active on the sea. Iran has argued that the legal status of Caspian Sea should be decided according to 1921 and 1940 agreements with Soviet Union. These treaties had observed Caspian Sea as a lake that belonged to Soviet Union and Iran. After the disintegration of the Soviets, both Russia and Iran claimed that the new states had no right on the Caspian Sea. Willing to extract natural sources off its coast, in 1998 Azerbaijan declared that Caspian is an international sea. It claimed that the sea should be divided among the five surrounding states according the coastline length. Iran did not accept this plan because it would give Iran the smallest share which would be between 12 to 16 per cent. However, when Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan made bilateral agreements about the status of Caspian has left Iran alone in the issue. It has thus come to the position that the sea should be divided into equal shares, that is 20 per cent to each state. Yet, the dispute over the status and sources of Caspian remains to be settled and this question deteriorates Iran’s relations with Russia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan.(34)


However, the US backed Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline has further isolated Iran and has given more instability to Iran-Azerbaijan relations.  The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline makes Washington-Ankara-Baku line more powerful in the process of integrating the energy resources of Central Asia into the world market. On the other hand, the pipeline also eliminates Russia and Iran in this process.



In his state of union speech in April 2005, Russian president Vladimir Putin described the collapse of Soviet Union as "the greatest geopolitical catastrophe" of the 20th century.  The disintegration of the Soviet Union was not something that was desired by Iran, but it meant that Iran would lose a great ally which was offsetting the US threat. Since September 2001 the US-led operations in Afghanistan and Iraq have given the US more chance of activity in Middle East and Central Asia. By military operations in Asia, the US has contained Iran from Iraq and Afghanistan. The fact that the other powers in the region, Pakistan, India, and Israel, have nuclear weapons is another reason which makes the Iranian leadership to feel more insecure. Iran, on the other hand, has embraced the idea to have nuclear weapons in order to deter its enemies. However, Iran’s solution of obtaining nuclear weapons is making Iran even more anxious as the US has included Iran among the axis of evil and is repeatedly threatening to apply military force in order to stop uranium enrichment.


This study has arrived at the following essential conclusions:


1- Although just after the Islamic Revolution Iranian president talked about export of revolution, the reelpolitik has made Iranian foreign policy to become increasingly pragmatic.


2- Iran’s basic foreign policy in Central Asia is centered on building strong relations with great powers in the region to counter the US menace.


3- Iran’s major ally has been Soviet Union or Russia after the disintegration of Soviet Union, with which it has had close commercial, military and energy agreements. The major cooperation has been in construction of Bushehr Nuclear Plant.


4- Iran has also sought to establish good relations with its neighbors, especially Turkmenistan and other Central Asian countries. It has entered various regional cooperation projects, such as Mashad-Tejen railway, Kurdköy-Körpece pipeline and ECO.


5- Lastly, dispute over the legal status of Caspian Sea is another major issue in Iranian foreign policy related to Central Asia. The fact that Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Russia have arrived at agreements has left Iran alone in the issue.




(1) Shireen T. Hunter, Iran and the World: Continuity in a Revolutionary Decade, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990, p. 6-7.

(2) R.K. Ramazani, “Ideology and Pragmatism in Iran’s Foreign Policy”, Middle East Journal, v.58, no: 4, Autumn 2004. p.555.

(3) Khomeini: "We Shall Confront the World with Our Ideology", Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP) Reports, 1980.

(4)Shireen T. Hunter, Iran and the World: Continuity in a Revolutionary Decade, Bloomington : Indiana University Press, 1990, p.37.

(5) Ibid, p.41.

(6) Olivier Roy, The Iranian Foreign Policy Toward Central Asia, royoniran.html, 10 September 2006. (7)  Alvin Z Rubenstein, “Moscow and Tehran The Wary Accommodation”,  in Alvin Z Rubenstein and Oles M Smolansky, Regional Power Rivalries in the New Eurasia, Russia, Turkey and Iran, New York: M.E Sharpe, 1995, p.31.

(8)  David Menashri, “Iran and Central Asia, Radical Regime, Pragmatic Politics” in David Menashri (ed) Central Asia Meets the Middle East, London: Frank Cass, 1998. p.77.

(9)  Saide Lotfian, “Iran’s Middle East Policies Under President Khatami”, Iranian Journal of International Affairs, v:10, No:4, (Winter 98/99), p.423.

(10)  Fred Halliday, “Iran and the Middle East: Foreign Policy and Domestic Change”, Middle East Report, No. 220, Autumn 2001, p.44.

(11)  "An Iranian Gorbachev?" Wall Street Journal Europe, June 4, 1999.

(12)  Fred Halliday, “Iran and the Middle East: Foreign Policy and Domestic Change”, Middle East Report, No. 220, Autumn 2001, p.45.

(13)  Mahmood Sariolghalam, “Understanding Iran: Getting Past Stereotypes and Mythology”, The Washington Quarterly 26.4 (2003) p.69.

(14)  Ray Takeyh and Nikolas K. Gvosdev, “Pragmatism in the Midst of Iranian Turmoil”, The Washington Quarterly 27.4 (2004) p.41.

(15)  Kramer, Heinz. "Will Central Asia Become Turkey's Sphere of Influence" Perceptions: Journal of International Affairs, March- May 1996, v. 3, No. 4.

(16)  Richard Weitz, “Averting a New Great Game in Central Asia”, The Washington Quarterly, Center for Strategic and International Studies and the MIT, Summer 2006, p.156.

(17)  Shireen T. Hunter, “Religion, Politics, and Security in Central Asia”, SAIS Review 21.2 (2001), p.65.

(18) Svante E. Cornell and Regine A. Spector, “Central Asia: More than Islamic Extremists”, The Washington Quarterly 25.1 (2002), p.200.

(19)  Edmund Herzig, “Iran and Central Asia”, in Lena Jonson, Roy Allison Central Asian Security: The New International Context, Washington: Brookings Institution Pres, 2001, p.175.

(20)  David Menashri, “Iran and Central Asia, Radical Regime, Pragmatic Politics” in David Menashri (ed) Central Asia Meets the Middle East, London: Frank Cass, 1998. p.90.

(21)  Subodh Atal, “Central Asian Geopolitics and U.S. Policy in the Region: The Post-11 September Era”, Mediterranean Quarterly 14.2 (2003), p.106.

(22)  Robert O. Freedman, “Russia and Iran: A Tactical Alliance”, SAIS Review 17.2 (1997), p.100.

(23)  Ibid., p.101.

(24)  Mohiaddin Mesbahi, “Iran and Tajikistan”, in Alvin Z Rubenstein and Oles M Smolansky, Regional Power Rivalries in the New Eurasia, Russia, Turkey and Iran, New York: M.E Sharpe, 1995, p.128.

(25)  “Iran, its Neighbours and the Regional Crises”, Chatham House Report, 23 August 2006, p. 41.

(26)  Mohamed A. El-Khawas, “Iran's Nuclear Controversy: Prospects for a Diplomatic Solution”, Mediterranean Quarterly 16.4 (2005), p.35.

(27)  “Iran, its Neighbours and the Regional Crises”, Chatham House Report, 23 August 2006, p. 42.

(28)  Vladimir A. Orlov and Alexander Vinnikov, “The Great Guessing Game: Russia and the Iranian Nuclear Issue”, The Washington Quarterly 28.2 (2005), p.56.

(29)  Edmund Herzig, “Iran and Central Asia”, in Lena Jonson, Roy Allison Central Asian Security: The New International Context, Washington: Brookings Institution Pres, 2001, p.179.

(30)  “Ahmadinejad sees no limit to expansion of ties with Tajikistan”, Mehr News Agency ,, 2006/01/17

(31)  David Menashri, “Iran and Central Asia, Radical Regime, Pragmatic Politics” in David Menashri (ed) Central Asia Meets the Middle East, London: Frank Cass, 1998. p.85.

(32)  Edmund Herzig, Iran and Central Asia in R. Allison and L. Johnson(ed.), Central Asian Security the New International Context, Brookings Institution: Washington DC,  p.181.

(33)  Bülent Aras, The New Geopolitics of Eurasia and Turkey's Position, London: Frank Cass, 2002, p.38.

(34)  Mehmet Öğütçü, “Hazar Enerji Kaynakları: Jeopolitik Dengeler, Yatırım Gereksinimi ve Hukuki Uyuşmazlıklar”, Mustafa Aydın (ed), Küresel Politikada Orta Asya, Ankara: Nobel, 2005 p.310.

(35)  Joel T. Meyer, “Iran`s Territorial Disputes with its Caspian Sea Neighbors”, The Power and Interest News Report (PINR),, 31 May 2006

(36)  “Putin deplores collapse of USSR”, BBC News,, 25 April, 2005 

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