Iran's Growing Interests and Influence in Central Asia


Dario Cristiani, Friday, Sept. 10, 2010, Briefing

In early August, at the fourth trilateral summit between Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan held in Tehran, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad urged the leaders of the other two countries to join in an alliance to counterbalance NATO's growing presence in Central Asia. Though any such formal alliance is unlikely, the declaration reflects Tehran's desire to play a larger role in Central Asia's regional dynamics.

If Iran has always been geographically part of the regional context of Central Asia and the Caucasus, Tehran's geopolitical orientation has historically been focused southward, on the Persian Gulf. For more than a century, Iranian interests in the area were limited to dealing with Russia's -- and later the Soviet Union's -- expansionism. The end of the Cold War and the implosion of the Soviet Union opened new opportunities on Iran's northern borders, even if Iran remained more preoccupied with the need for domestic reconstruction following the war with Iraq. ...