Emil Avdaliani

Russia and Iran: Friends and Foes

| January 17, 2018

Russia and Iran have been geopolitical rivals for centuries – but over the past couple of years, the Moscow-Tehran axis has grown exponentially. This creates major headaches for the US and other western powers that are concerned about how far this cooperation could go. The two powers share common interests in the South Caucasus and the Middle East, but are wary of one another’s growing influence in their own backyards.

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US-Russia Relations Plunge Still Further

| December 26, 2017

Tensions between Russia and the US have reached new heights over the past several weeks. Washington appears to be changing its military policy across the former Soviet space and is worried about Moscow’s close relations with Tehran and Ankara.

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Iran and the New Land Corridor

| December 19, 2017

Reports emerged recently suggesting that Iran-backed forces are closer to controlling the Syria-Iraq border. This would mean Tehran will now be able to link up with its Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah. If this scenario is correct, after 12 years of conflict in Iraq and another conflict in Syria, Iran is steadily transforming into a more powerful geopolitical player whose influence will be projected hundreds and maybe thousands of kilometers beyond its borders.

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The Fast-Changing Geopolitics of the Planet

| November 21, 2017

Just as the replacement of the steamship by container shipping slashed the cost of moving goods across borders, so the information and technology revolution has facilitated the moving of ideas around the globe, while advances in telerobotics will eventually cause geographical barriers to disintegrate. This will create a powerful force that will affect not only the behavior of humans but that of entire states. What we are witnessing now is nothing short of the coming of a new world order.

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Russia’s Unlikely Withdrawal from Syria

| November 7, 2017

Moscow’s intervention in the Syrian civil war boosted the reputation of the Russian military, afforded it valuable training, and enhanced Moscow’s political clout in both the conflict zone itself and the Middle East more generally. With that said, Syria threatens to become a quagmire for Russia, and Moscow is looking for an exit. This will be difficult to pull off as Russia faces considerable geopolitical constraints.

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Israel and the South Caucasus: Building a New Approach

| November 2, 2017

One might be excused for believing the South Caucasus to be of little interest to Israel, as it does not border the Jewish state and hosts several intractable conflicts. But Israel has unique interests in each of the three component South Caucasus countries – interests that have only grown as Iran’s influence has expanded following the lifting of sanctions in 2016.

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Ukraine Won’t Be Solved Any Time Soon

| October 11, 2017

The conflict in East Ukraine has reached a frozen phase in which neither side is making many gains. Despite agreements, the conflict has not seen any meaningful breakthrough for more than three years. Geopolitical imperatives dictate that progress will be contingent upon either Russia or Ukraine (i.e., the West) conceding their interests. The Ukrainian problem is rooted in the geography of the country as well as in the consistent failure of Russia to leverage its involvement in Syria and other theaters for western concessions.

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Putin’s Next Presidential Term Will Be Different

| October 1, 2017

Russia will hold its next presidential elections in March 2018, and current president Vladimir Putin has yet to announce his intention to run. Russians are accustomed to Putin’s late announcements of his candidacy (as occurred in 2004 and 2012), and he is widely expected to run. He will almost certainly win, but will have to find ways to handle fundamentally different domestic circumstances both during the election and after it.

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Geography Still Commands the Mediterranean World

| September 14, 2017

The migrant crisis in Europe that followed the wars in Libya and Syria exposed the Mediterranean world’s long-dormant interconnectedness. That unity is deeply rooted in the geography of the region.

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The Iranian Fortress

| August 28, 2017

There are many questions about Tehran’s long-term foreign policy following the lifting of western sanctions in 2016. To answer these questions, it is helpful to consider Iran’s geography and the way it affects the country’s behavior in terms of international relations. Iran’s geopolitical imperatives to defend its core land, project power where necessary, and limit foreign encroachments have remained largely unchanged throughout many centuries of its history.

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