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South Caucasus as a Regional Security Complex

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Author:Vali Kouzehgar Kaleji, Researcher in Eurasian Studies

Foreword : Dr. Shirin Akiner, Senior Fellow, Cambridge Central Asian Forum, University of Cambridge
Publisher: Research Institute of Strategic Studies (RISS), Tehran, Iran
Date of Publication: May 2014
Language: Persian
ISBN: 978-600-5282-73-3
Paperback: 280 pages

New book on Caucasus

South Caucasus Regional Security Complex,” written by Vali Kouzegar Kaleji with a preface by Dr. Shirin Akiner, Senior Research Fellow at Cambridge Central Asia Forum and Lecturer in Central Asian Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), is among the most recent written works in the area of Caucasus studies. The book was published in May 2014 by Research Institute for Strategic Studies (RISS) and is now available to all individuals interested in Caucasus issues. This work is valuable in that within the vast geopolitical expanse of Eurasia, Caucasus region (both northern and southern parts) seems to be more vulnerable than other adjacent regions such as Central Asia, Eastern Europe and the Baltic region. Plurality of ethnic, religious and linguistic configuration of this region in addition to superimposed geographical demarcations, which are not compatible with that plural configuration; longstanding historical differences among certain ethnic groups; the fact that political entities in the region lag behind the modern world in terms of building nation-state by a few centuries; and the power void resulting from the collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics has created a region with a political structure, which is extremely inclined toward anarchism. This region consists of three independent countries, including the Republic of Azerbaijan (in southeast and east), Armenia (in southwest and south), and Georgia (in northwest and west), in addition to three autonomous regions of Nakhichevan (an exclave of Azerbaijan), Nagorno-Karabakh (with de facto independence and a protectorate of Armenia), and Adjara (an autonomous republic of Georgia), as well as two smaller regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia (with de facto independence and protected by the Russian Federation). So far, three bloody and costly wars in this small region over a period of two decades have been the main result of the existence of such an anarchic structure. They included the military confrontation between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh (1988-1994), the war between Abkhazia and South Ossetia, on the one hand, and the central government of Georgia, on the other (1989-1992), and a second armed conflict between these two sides, which led to direct military intervention of Russia (August 2008). The existence of these critical conditions has led to such consequences as the escalation of historical differences among various ethnic groups as well as national and transnational entities; increased arms race; slowing down of the process of political, economic and social reforms in transitional countries of this region; continued security instability as well as the absence of a common security regime; and finally, increased political rivalry and rising influence of regional and transregional players on the political developments of South Caucasus during the past two decades. These developments have not only had untoward effects on peace, stability and development in this region, but have also had a remarkable impact on security and the interests of peripheral regions as well.

Geographical continuity as well as profound and lasting civilizational, historical, and cultural ties between Iran and South Caucasus have caused Iran's national interests and security to be closely related to political developments in this region. “South Caucasus Regional Security Complex,” has been compiled on the basis of regional security complex theory, which is the product of extensive studies by scholars affiliated with Copenhagen School of security studies topped by Barry Buzan. Drawing on Kenneth Waltz’ neorealism and Alexander Wendt’s constructivism, and also by relying on a multidimensional and overarching definition of the security concept, this theory has great capacities to facilitate organized analysis of political events at various analytic level. It is also quite capable of expounding the roles played by various political players and also to explain identity-related and ethnic challenges in South Caucasus region. In fact, the application of regional security complex theory will help analysts to discuss actions and reactions of all (sub-national, national, regional, and international) players as well as their impact on regional security development en masse and in a comprehensive manner. On the other hand, as a model of regional security, it paves the way for the analysis, explanation and, somehow, forecast of security developments in South Caucasus region; does away with shortcomings resulting from oversimplification that stems from application of structuralist and reductionist ideas; and provides a suitable ground for comprehensive understanding of security dynamisms in one of the least stable regions of the world following the end of the Cold War. Of course, while remaining faithful to overall structure of this theory and its main components, the author has also taken advantage of other theories of international relations and regional studies as well as concepts and variables of political sociology, political psychology, political economics, political geography and geopolitics in order to make the book and the material therein more comprehensive.

The book has been divided into four sections. The general outlines of the subject and a critique of relevant works have been offered in the first section with the goal of putting forth the main goal of this research. The second part, entitled “Theoretical Framework,” introduces the regional security complex theory. This section merely focuses on alterations made to this theory since the early 1980s up to the present time as well as changes that have been made to the definition of this theory and viewpoints of experts about the issue of security. Therefore, the author has avoided in-depth discussion of details, concepts and variables of this theory. The third section is about the application of the concepts and variables of regional security complex theory to developments in South Caucasus region. In this section, every concept or variable is introduced first, immediately followed by its application to regional trends and dynamism, so as to make organized understanding of security developments in South Caucasus region possible by creating logical connections among various phenomena, trends and dynamisms. In the fourth and last section, the author discusses and explores future outlook of security developments in the aforesaid region. Here, while discussing Iran's position in the course of structural developments in South Caucasus region solutions have been provided as to how this region can transit through its currently fragile and unstable security situation. Perhaps, these solutions would raise hope that after two decades of war and conflict, various nations in south Caucasus would be able – as put by the French statesman Georges Clémenceau – to win the peace and taste the sweetness of peace and stability. All told, this book can serve as a good source for experts and researchers of Caucasus region as well as students of international relations, regional studies and political geography.

More By Vali Kouzegar Kaleji:

*Water Crisis in Central Asia: Centers of Conflict and Possible Consequences for Iran: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Water_Crisis_in_Central_Asia_Centers_of_Conflict_and_Possible_Consequences_for_Iran.htm

*Possibility of Relocating MKO to Azerbaijan: Iran's Considerations and Concerns: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents
/Possibility_of_Relocating_MKO_to_Azerbaijan_Iran_s_Considerations_and_Concerns.htm

*Israel-Azerbaijan Relations: An Iranian Approach: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Israel_Azerbaijan_Relations_An_Iranian_Approach.htm

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