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China’s Yemen Diplomacy and a Multipolar Gulf

Since it first emerged as an economic powerhouse in the 1990s and early 2000s, China has consistently adhered to the principle of neutrality and non-interference in other nations’ internal affairs. As it gained economic clout and a growing market share throughout the Middle East, Beijing preserved its reputation as a neutral market, conducting trade with all nations and remaining aloof from regional politics. Given this background, the announcement in March of a China-mediated diplomatic normalization between Saudi Arabia and Iran—the Gulf’s two primary geopolitical foes—after years of the rivalry came as a shock both to Middle Eastern and Western experts. The Saudi-Iran détente could contribute to the de-escalation of deadly tensions, particularly in the Gulf region. Riyadh and Tehran are engaged in prolonged and bloody proxy wars in the Middle East—most notably in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia has led a military coalition against the country’s northern Houthi rebels for eight years without success. Continue reading

Azerbaijan’s energy diplomacy pivots to the Balkans

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Azerbaijan has adjusted its foreign policy agenda to target the Balkan region, that is more vulnerable to the energy crisis than the states of Central and Western Europe.

Energy has long been the core element of Azerbaijan’s pragmatic foreign policy, and recently it gained more impetus as European nations sought additional energy suppliers to replace Russian fossil fuel exports. Although the EU’s leading member countries are able to compensate for energy shortages by using energy reserves, employing alternative energy sources and importing additional gas volumes from alternative suppliers, the less developed Balkan states are struggling to adapt to the energy deficit.

More gas for the Balkans

On April 26, a signing ceremony for the memorandum of understanding on encouraging cooperation among Bulgartransgaz (Bulgaria), Transgaz (Romania), FGSZ (Hungary), Eustream (Slovakia) and the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) was held in Sofia. The memorandum paves the way for additional Azeri gas volumes to flow to the Balkans amid the unprecedented energy crisis in Europe caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Moreover, the document highlighting Azerbaijan’s strategic partnership with the Balkan nations will ease the cooperation between the local authorities and the transmission and distribution system operators. Continue reading

Azerbaijani-Iranian Tensions Disrupt the South Caucasus

Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 20 Issue: 63

On March 30, Azerbaijan officially inaugurated its first embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel, after avoiding the move for three decades. Although the decision highlighted the importance of Azerbaijani-Israeli relations, it quickly became a catalyst behind the renewed war of words between Iran and Azerbaijan (, March 30). Since 2021, diplomatic relations between Tehran and Baku have steadily become embittered. Iran is primarily concerned with the decline of its influence in the South Caucasus, which has suffered since the end of the Second Karabakh War in 2020. As such, in an attempt by Tehran to flex its muscles and intimidate Azerbaijan, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps conducted large-scale military drills on the border with Azerbaijan in October 2022 (Eurasianet, October 20, 2022). Unlike previous years, the exercises provoked an uneasy reaction within Azerbaijan and triggered anti-Iranian sentiments throughout the country. Continue reading

Is war between Iran and Azerbaijan out of the question?

bne IntelliNews - TEHRAN BLOG: Iran takes aim at 'gambler' and 'political  dwarf' Aliyev as Azerbaijan tensions simmer

Tensions between Azerbaijan and Iran have grown rather raw recently in the wake of Baku’s inauguration of its first-ever embassy in Israel. Of course, diplomatic relations between the neighbours have steadily become more and more inflamed and embittered for several years now, with Iran concerned at the declining influence in the South Caucasus it has suffered since the second Karabakh war between Azerbaijan, urged on by Turkey, and Armenia in late 2020. And with the normalisation of diplomatic ties between Tehran and Baku unlikely in the near future, the big question remains unanswered: Is it possible that the tensions could escalate into a large-scale regional conflict? Continue reading

The History and Evolution of Iran’s National Drone Program

A military unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV or drone) on a runway during a two-day drone exercise at an undisclosed location in Iran, August 24, 2022.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, launched in early 2022, has fundamentally changed the international security architecture that had existed for many years, but it has also caused global political and economic cataclysms. Although Russian forces made significant gains thanks to heavy artillery fire, including missile strikes on cities all over Ukraine in the first weeks of combat, Ukrainian defenders quickly rebuffed attempts by consolidating its military power, exercising diplomatic connections, and launching counterattacks at Russian positions.

The failures of continuous artillery and missile strikes in the following months prompted Russia to make some changes in its military tactics. As a result, Russia was forced to seek help from its traditional allies, China and Iran, through unofficial channels.[1] Although China has refrained from overtly providing military support to Russia in order not to further complicate relations with Western countries, particularly with the United States, Iran began supplying locally produced long-range attack (suicide) drones to Russia. The effective use of Iranian-made Shahed and Mohajer drones by the Russian army to conduct attacks against Ukraine’s critical civilian infrastructure in the first days has revived interest in the Iranian drone industry internationally and has brought to light the real threat of Iran’s long-standing national drone program to security across the Middle East region.[2]  Continue reading

Will Azerbaijan–Iran tensions reach point of no return?

Over the past 18 months, tensions have gradually continued to escalate between Azerbaijan and Iran. Ties have been strained by a combination of diplomatic spats and military drills along their border. Azerbaijan perceives Iran as posturing dangerously towards its southern regions, while Tehran is threatened by Baku drawing closer to the Islamic Republic’s regional rivals—particularly Israel. Absent a change in these dynamics, relations could further deteriorate, with tensions boiling over. Continue reading

VOA Azerbaijan: Rusiya-Ukrayna müharibəsi ənənəvi təhlükəsizlik anlayışını kardinal şəkildə dəyişib

Link to original material of VOA Azerbaijan

Siyasi tədqiqatçı Fuad Şahbazov Amerikanın Səsinə müsahibəsində Rusiya-Ukrayna müharibəsinin qlobal, regional, o cümlədən Cənubi Qafqaz bölgəsinə təsirlərindən danışıb.

Amerikanın Səsi: Rusiya-Ukrayna müharibəsi artıq bir ilə yaxındır davam edir. Bu müharibə beynəlxalq münasibətlər sistemində hansı dəyişiklikərə səbəb olub?

Fuad Şahbazov: Ümumilikdə götürdükdə bu müharibə Avropada və beynəlxalq münasibətlər sistemində mövcud olan ənənəvi təhlükəsizlik anlayışının kordinal şəkildə dəyişməsinə səbəb oldu. Ənənəvi təhlükəsizlik arxitekturası kökündən dəyişir və hələ də dəyişməkdədir. Bildiyiniz kimi İkinci Dünya Müharibəsindən sonra dünyada BMT modeli mövcud idi. Artıq bu model Ukrayna müharibəsindən qabaq da sıradan çıxmış olsa da, Ukrayna müharibəsi ümumiyyətlə göstərdi ki, mövcud olan beynəlxalq təhlükəsizlik sistemi suveren ölkələrin sərhədlərinin təhlükəsizliyinə təminat verə bilmir. Bunun da kökündən dəyişməsi lazımdır. Yəni bu nə deməkdir? Bu o deməkdir ki, nisbətən kiçik ölkələr daha böyük qonşu ölkələrin, hətta daha qlobal və yaxud regional güclərin çox asanlıqla hədəfinə çevrilə bilər. Çox destruktiv müharibənin tam ortasında qala bilər. Continue reading

What to Expect From the Azerbaijani–Armenian Peace Process in 2023

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Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 20 Issue: 14

The end of 2022 marked another round of confrontation between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the Karabakh region with the involvement of Russian peacekeeping forces. The standoff began in early December, when the Russian peacekeeping contingent in the separatist Karabakh region denied access to Azerbaijani officials from the Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources and the state-owned mining company AzerGold CJSC from carrying out on-site inspections of the Gizilbulag gold deposits and the Demirli copper-molybdenum deposits to evaluate potential risks to the environment (, December 13, 2022;, December 16, 2022). While Azerbaijani state officials were deprived of free movement inside the separatist portion of Karabakh by the peacekeeping mission, it fueled scepticism in Azerbaijani and Armenian societies regarding Russia’s role in the process (Eurasianet, December 15, 2022). Continue reading

Iran’s Drone Exports to Armenia Could Undermine Peace Process in Karabakh

Photo by Iranian Army/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 19 Issue: 188

The recent war of words between Azerbaijan and Armenia, and the developments of the last several weeks, have demonstrated that both sides are far from inking a peace deal, which was promised by the end of 2022. Although both states vowed to intensify joint efforts on the final peace treaty in October 2022 on the sidelines of the Prague summit, little has been done since. On the contrary, the failure to hold peace negotiations has been magnified by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s controversial statements regarding Moscow’s non-recognition of Azerbaijan’s sovereignty over Karabakh, which have immensely increased the risks of renewed hostilities between Baku and Yerevan (JAM-news, October 28). Although Russia maintains the role of “key mediator” on the Karabakh issue, Azerbaijan now openly demonstrates its discontent over Moscow’s role in the peace process, particularly after the merely symbolic meeting in Sochi on October 3 (, November 28). Continue reading

Ethnic Minorities in the Iranian Protests: Tehran’s No-Win Situation

The ongoing mass protests in Iran, which have steadily grown more violent over the past two months, risk escalating regional tensions with neighboring states. Although all major Iranian cities have experienced clashes between demonstrators and security forces, the level of violence demonstrated by the Iranian security forces in BaluchestanKhuzestan, and Kurdistan provinces appeared to be more significant than in other cities without large ethnic minority groups. The Iranian regime’s harsh stance toward Baluchis, Kurds, Arabs, and Azerbaijanis comes as part of a broader conflict between the Iranian government and ethnic minorities seeking better treatment or greater autonomy; Tehran has attempted to subdue its restive Kurdistan region in particular, both through direct military action and by attacking the neighboring Kurdistan region of Iraq. Continue reading