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A neorealist analysis of Iran-Russia relations : Tajik and Syrian civil wars

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2019
Yanık, Esra
Civil wars not only influence the countries they break out but they also lead to significant policy changes on a regional and global scale as observed in Syria. On the other hand, the civil war in Tajikistan between the years 1992-1997 is the first and only civil war in Central Asia following the Soviet demise. Both civil wars have varying degrees of impact on Iran by shaping Tehran’s foreign policy and providing a basis for cooperation between Iran and Russia. In this thesis, Iranian politics towards Tajik and Syrian civil wars will be examined comparatively and it will be made inferences about Iran’s policies towards Russia. Examining both civil wars as case studies, this thesis argues that there are significant differences between Iran’s policies towards the Middle East and Central Asia/Transcaucasia regions. One of the main determinants on these differences is “Russia factor”. While Iran has pursued an interventionist, assertive and even aggressive policies in the Middle East, Tehran’s policies in Central Asia/Transcaucasia has been more non-interventionist, timid and conciliatory. This thesis uses Neorealism as theoretical framework and states that for Iran, close relations with Russia stand as an important opportunity for balancing the threat of Western penetration into the Middle East and Central Asia/Transcaucasia as well as a strong source of stability against any threat around its borders. Lastly, the thesis covers the factors limiting the close relations between Iran and Russia by departing from Tajik and Syrian civil wars.