Erdoğan nibbling away at Russia’s hegemony in Central Asia

Turkey’s foray into the South Caucasus by supporting Azerbaijan militarily in a victory last year against Armenia in Nagorno Karabakh seems to be paying off as it nibbles away at Russia’s hegemony in the region, analyst Emil Avdaliani said.

The Turkish government has now established a pivotal role in the South Caucasus, Avdaliani said in the Eurasia Review on Tuesday.

“For now, at least, events are playing very well for (President Recep Tayyip) Erdoğan and his dreams of becoming a regional strongman,” he said.

Azerbaijan, backed by Turkish armed drones and military knowhow, began a successful offensive against Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh in September last year. The conflict ended in November with a Russia-brokered truce. Azerbaijan regained control of much of the disputed territory controlled by ethnic Armenians since the 1990s.

Ankara’s support proved crucial to Baku reclaiming authority over the territory.

Facing its “brutal new reality” Armenia has repositioned itself to seek rapprochement with its old enemy Turkey, Avdaliani said.

“Following the 2020 war, Armenia sees the need to act beyond the historical grievances it holds against Turkey and be more pragmatic in foreign ties,” he said.

Turkey has positioned itself as a “new centre of gravity for Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia”, the analyst said.

Economic and transport diversification would also mean the diminution of Russian influence in the region, he said.

Since Turkey closed its border with Armenia in 1993 and suspended diplomatic relations with Yerevan, Armenia has increased its reliance on Russia because the majority of roads and railways run north towards Moscow, Avdaliani said.

“For Turkey, a reopened border is also beneficial in creating faster links with Azerbaijan. And improving regional links is a cornerstone of Turkey’s bid for a stronger position in the South Caucasus,” he said.

“Through its military and economic presence, Turkey can hope to open new railways and roads, thus steadily decreasing Russian and to a certain degree Iranian geopolitical leverage in the South Caucasus.”


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