عنوان مقاله [English]
With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Security Environment around Iran underwent profound changes. At the same time with the removal of traditional threats from the Soviet Union, Iran faced new threats and opportunities. From the Iranian perspective, considering the diversity and plurality of the threats in this Region (South Caucasus), prioritizing the most important security threats was considered as the central issue of this study. The Research attempts to prioritize these threats in the region and offer optimal solutions. The Main Question is: What are the priority threats to the Islamic Republic of Iran from the southern Caucasus? The research hypothesis is that “through the southern Caucasus, the main threats to Iran are security and economic / geo-economic threats”. Also, the research method is surveyed by Questionnaire.
Iran, with its significant border with two countries South Caucasus region, receives a lot of influence through the Caucasus region. For appropriate policy-making in the face of threats and the pursuit of national interests and objectives, the threats contained throughout this security complex must be examined at various levels, and then appropriate strategies could be extracted based on the prioritization of threats. What has preoccupied the researcher's mind is, first of all, what are the security threats to the Islamic Republic of Iran through Southern Caucasus? How is their priority in terms of importance? And how is it possible to deal with them? The sub-questions are: What are the characteristics of the security structure of the South Caucasus? What is the strategic importance of the South Caucasus region from Iran’s point of view? What are the appropriate strategies to deal with threats? The main hypothesis of the article is that: In the South Caucasus, the main threats to Iran are military-security and economic/geo-economic dynamics.
The South Caucasus, which is called Transcaucasia in Russians, is the southern half of the Caucasus. The Caucasus is a region between the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea, which is divided into two parts, the South Caucasus and the North Caucasus. The South Caucasus includes Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia. In this region, in addition to the issue of land and border exchanges within the framework of disintegration programs such as the Goebbels project, the issue of energy transfer, ethnic movements and turning Iranian youth loyalty away from national identity, are the threatening dynamics which have been shaped against Iran.
In this paper, the structure of the region is analyzed with a model based on the theory of security complexes. Components such as secure borders, dominant security ideas, regional polarization and intervening actors, crisis and conflict patterns, security issues and problems in the region are explained. The strategic features of the South Caucasus region from Iran’s point of view have also been explained. To answer the main question of the article, the Friedman test was performed on the survey results. The test results show that security and then geo-economic threats have the highest priority in the Caucasus.
Iran can have a strong presence in Chinese or European cross-border corridors due to its geopolitical situation, especially in road transport. Iran’s railway network, unlike other railway networks in the Caucasus, is technically compatible with the Turkish railway network in terms of technical standards, and therefore a good prospect can be drawn for the expansion of railway connections in the region. Iran also has a high capacity in the field of technology and engineering to implement different kinds of projects in the field of oil, gas, road construction, civil engineering, and urban planning. Iranian contractors can be used to meet the technical and engineering needs of Central Asia and the Caucasus.
According to the authors, appropriate strategies for dealing with the threats are as follows:
- Utilization of Iranian engineering-technical capacities in the region;
- Cross-border linkage of infrastructures;
- Defense diplomacy and cooperation;
- Exploitation of Iranian superior political advantage and proper communication with all Caucasus parties;
- Exploitation of the cultural connections between Iran and Caucasus countries.
The solutions for controlling the threats are:
- Establishment of an office to assess the technical-engineering needs of the South Caucasus countries;
- Exploitation of the Iranian technical and engineering capacities to meet the technical needs of the countries;
- Expanding technical and military cooperation, meeting technical and weapons needs, economic agreements, training programs;
- Monitoring the composition of arms purchases of countries;
- Sensitivity to the appropriateness or incompatibility of arms purchases with the military strategy and conventional threats of each country in the Caucasus;
- Reciprocal response in the establishment of intelligence centers, interception and reciprocal military operations;
- Cultural activities as a lever of influence in countries;
- Expanding social relations (relying on religious and civilizational elements as an alternative to ethnocentrism or Salafism);
- Strengthening defense diplomacy, expanding mutual defense and technical cooperation, arms exports, training programs;
- Efforts to fundamentally resolve the issue of sanctions;
- Prioritize different cross-border corridors to deal with geopolitical evacuation;
- Capacity building of actors in the South Caucasus by promoting the status of the Economic Cooperation Organization;
- Awarding university and seminary scholarships and familiarity with Islamic culture and civilization;
- Inviting prominent scientific and cultural figures and acquaintance with Iranian and Islamic teachings;
- Iran’s effective cooperation with the European Union and especially the Minsk Group for mediation;
- Effective pursuit of the 3 + 3 plan with the participation of Iran, Turkey and Russia and rejection of any influence of governments that are not in this composition, such as the United States.
In response to the main question of the article, by analyzing the results of the survey, the main areas of threat in the South Caucasus that could pose a threat to Iran’s national security were prioritized as follows: First the military/security sphere, second the economic / geo-economic sphere, third the cultural sphere, fourth the environmental sphere, and finally the political sphere. The above-mentioned results confirm the research hypothesis: “In the South Caucasus, the main threats to Iran are military-security and economic dynamics”. Also, the most important threat-based dynamics are as follows: Security activities of the rival governments such as Turkey, Israel, etc. in the region (expanding technical and arms cooperation, economic agreements, training programs), eavesdropping stations and spy systems, expansion of centrifugal and separatist views, incitement of ethnic Iranians to turn against the Iranian government, development of international pipelines around the country without crossing Iran (Iran’s geopolitical depletion in the field of energy), severe pollution of the Kura-Aras water basin which is a threat to human, food and ecological security and finally constitution of autonomous units and autonomous regions, territorial displacements and border changes. There are also significant strategies for curbing threats that have been developed in the context of various economic, diplomatic, political, foreign, and cultural relations.