There is a tendency to view the tense relationship between Azerbaijan and Iran through the prism of religion. But bilateral enmity is rooted more in strategic considerations than it is in ideology or religion.
When it comes to the brewing arms race in the Caspian Sea region, no one can accuse Turkmen leader Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov of navel-gazing. Ashgabat is now able to back its claims to some energy-rich patches of the sea with considerable firepower.
It was another week of stumbling into the unknown for a group of seven men attempting to make the long trek from Tajikistan to Mecca entirely by foot.
"A rather uneasy encounter with the Taliban, running into a NATO forces' checkpoint, and a lavish dinner at the Balkh governor's residence," group head Abdulaziz Rajabov says as he lists the highlights of the week.
A US government-funded survey on mass media trends in Iran found that state television remains by far the most common source of news for Iranians, though roughly half its viewers admit that they don't consider it to be entirely trustworthy. At the same time, Iranians are skeptical of the content in foreign news broadcasts too.
The United States is facing some interesting diplomatic choices in South Asia. Washington is no doubt cheered by Turkmenistan’s recent commitment to ship natural gas via Afghanistan to India and Pakistan.
Georgia is clearly the closest US ally in the South Caucasus, moving in lockstep with American interests on just about every foreign policy issue – except one: Iran. Not wanting to become embroiled in a potential regional conflict, officials in Tbilisi are trying to finesse relations with Tehran, while staying in Washington’s good graces.