Friday, June 08, 2007

Azerbaijan and Missile Shields

Azerbaijan wants to consider the Russian proposal to allow joint Russian-American operation of a radar station as part of an anti-missile defense system. Since Russia currently operates that facility alone, agreement from Azerbaijan and apparently only Azerbaijan probably isn't what they'd hoped for. The statement in the article that Azerbaijan fears the spread of Iran's system of government to that country is silly - Ilham Aliyev retains much of his father's popularity, and while there has been an increase in religiosity following the collapse of the Soviet Union, there have been no hints of the sort of Salafi movements found in Central Asia.

Azerbaijan's foreign policy is based off trying to be friends with everyone and sell them oil and natural gas. Allowing everyone to use their radar station helps them achieve that balance, weakening the influence of the proximate and ambitious power, Russia, for one that won't care if they undermine Gazprom in the Caucasus. Here, as in Eastern Europe, Iran really isn't the key to the situation.

UPDATE: I hadn't realized that the Russian proposal was entirely based off Azerbaijan. That means the whole thing could have been proposed in the expectation the Bush administration will give it the cold shoulder.



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