عنوان مقاله [English]
Regional security in Central Asia has been of strategic importance for both Iran and Russia. Russia has sought to play a key role in Central Asia’s security sphere and as far as it can, it will not allow other powers to play a role in this region. However factors such as the expansion of security relations between Iran and Russia in recent years, especially after experiencing successful cooperation in the Syrian crisis, raises the question of whether the security cooperation between Iran and Russia in Central Asia will be a continuation of the past trend, or it can be predicted as a new era of such cooperation. In addition, can we discuss a change in the pattern of Iran-Russia security relations in Central Asia? A development that has made the weight of cooperation and convergence heavier than the weight of divergence? The hypothesis of the article is that the pattern of relations between the two countries in Central Asia is shifting from a pattern of competition and cooperation to a model of cooperation, and the common threats in this region for both countries can overshadow the competing aspects of the interests and increase security cooperation between the two countries. In order to illustrate the hypothesis of the article and explain the determining factors in the field of Iran-Russia security cooperation in Central Asia, it is necessary to point out the developments that have taken place both within these two countries, especially in the direction of Russian foreign policy. Also, the consequences of the change in the structure of international system in regional systems and in this particular case in the structure of regional system in Central Asia should be considered. Therefore, in the first part of the article, the possibility of Iran-Russia security cooperation in Central Asia from the perspective of regional security complex theory and then in the context of changing the dominant approach in Russian foreign policy is examined. It is noted that the weight of cooperation and convergence has increased, and while in the three decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the pattern of competition and cooperation has dominated the relations between the two countries; With the recent developments at the domestic, regional and international levels, we are witnessing a decrease in the aspect of competition in these relations and an increase in cooperation.
In order to study the relations between Iran and Russia and the cooperation of these two countries in Central Asia, it is necessary to examine the interests of these two countries in the region and how they interact with each other to achieve their national interests. In this regard, national interests should be categorized in terms of parallel-common and conflicting interests. The question now is whether it is possible to vote for a shift in the balance of divergent and convergent interests in Iran-Russia relations, and whether, in fact, there has been a turning point in Iran-Russia relations in Central Asia. In this regard, we should mention the geopolitical convergence against the geo-economic divergence of Iran and Russia in Central Asia; In other words, these two seemingly conflicting factors in Iran-Russia relations have always existed in the post-Soviet period.
Regarding Iran-Russia relations in Central Asia, it can be said that although the two countries have common interests in the field of geopolitics with the aim of maintaining stability in this region, in the field of geo-economics, they are considered rivals and Moscow has tried to prevent Iran’s economic influence in the region as much as possible. This pattern of competition and cooperation is changing; As a result of Western pressures and hostile US policies, Iran has pursued the policy of “looking the east”, and therefore, in the field of geo-economics, has turned to increase cooperation and convergence with Russia. Cooperation through platform of the North-South international corridor and Iran’s desire to join the Eurasian Economic Union has been among the most important developments in this field, which has led to a pattern of cooperation.
Russia-Iran security cooperation in Central Asia can be analyzed in terms of Iran’s growing influence in the Middle East. Russia is well aware that Iran, as a rising regional power, can also play a major role in the stability or instability of Central Asian region, and therefore cooperation with Iran can be a way to maintain the direction of regional policy in favor of its own stability. Thus, maintaining regional order in Central Asia with Iran can give Moscow more confidence to maintain its interests.
Iran and Russia are in a new era of security cooperation with each other in Central Asia and beyond, which is different from previous periods in several ways. On the one hand, the structure of the regional system in Central Asia has changed in such a way that Russia in the geopolitical and China in the geo-economics spheres have become the two dominant powers in the region, and thus the regional security complex in Central Asia has become dominated by the two great powers, and as a result, there is less room for the West to exert influence in the region including the United States. This development should be placed alongside the concept of “looking the east” in Iran’s foreign policy, which, under the influence of US hostile policies and sanctions, has strengthened the option of turning to Russia and China.
Iran has proven to consider Russia’s interests in the region, and unlike the first decade after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia and the republics of Central Asia’s perception toward Iran as a threat to the stability of the region has softened. On the other hand, Russia, driven from the West, has sought to establish an independent identity as a Eurasian state, and therefore cooperation with Iran, as an influential regional power in Central Asia, has become particularly important in establishing its regional dominance. In general, it can be said that the pattern of Iran-Russia relations in Central Asia is changing from a pattern of simultaneous competition and cooperation to more of a pattern of cooperation and convergence. In the new model, we see that the two countries, unlike in the past, while maintaining geopolitical harmony in the region, have also tended toward geo-economic cooperation.