Three of Central Asia’s republics, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, border Afghanistan along a frontier agreed to by Russia and Britain during the late 19th century. The border deal was an outcome of the so-called Great Game.
In a highly dramatic development, Russian bombers have begun using an Iranian base for bombing missions over Syria. Why Moscow would want to do this is clear: flight time to Syria is much shorter from northwestern Iran than from southern Russia.
As Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan responds to the failed coup attempt on July 15, Azerbaijan is embracing the Turkish government’s narrative that the botched putsch was orchestrated by followers of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.
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.