The recent failed military coup in Istanbul is pushing the Turkish government to prioritize a rapprochement with Russia, as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is due to meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg on August 9.
Turkmenistan finds itself isolated of its own volition, Iran through international sanctions. Over the last month, the two countries, which share a 922-kilometer border, have engaged in a flurry of diplomatic and economic activity that should boost bilateral relations.
The Muslim world continues to reverberate from the shock created by Saudi Arabia’s early January execution of Baqr al-Nimr, a dissident Shia cleric. Meanwhile, another outspoken Shia cleric, Taleh Bagir-zade, sits behind bars in Azerbaijan.
Since the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991, US-Russian relations repeatedly have been hit by surprise developments. In just the last couple of years, unexpected events have included Edward Snowden’s leaks, Crimea, Donbas, Syria, the Russian Metrojet tragedy and the Turkish shoot-down of a Russian Su-24. The list could go on.
Rising Turkish-Russian tension is putting Azerbaijan in a bind. At a time when low energy prices are squeezing the Azerbaijani economy, officials in Baku need to keep ties strong with both Turkey and Russia to help maintain relative domestic stability.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced in early October that Russian warships in the Caspian Sea launched 26 missiles against targets in Syria. The revelation caught Western analysts off guard, and demonstrated that the Kremlin has developed in recent years a significantly enhanced ability to project force.
The overall atmosphere in Azerbaijan is grim when it comes to freedom of speech and freedom of conscience. Yet, the release from prison of Taleh Baghirov, a young, charismatic Shia Muslim cleric, goes against the general trend in Azerbaijan.
Hopes are running high in Armenia that the pending end of international sanctions against Iran, its southern neighbor, will advance strategic investment projects. But Armenian analysts caution that Russia, Tehran’s longtime regional rival, may foil Yerevan’s ambitions.