'The region is like a powder keg'


U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (L) and Georgia's President Mikheil Saakashvili take part in the official welcoming ceremony at the presidential residence in Tbilisi July 23, 2009.

Article Highlights

  • U.S. interest in the South Caucasus certainly will decrease with the withdrawal from Afghanistan

    Tweet This

  • Obama is not a man who values allies like Azerbaijan; he does not understand the importance of friendship

    Tweet This

  • To use an airport in occupied land is very dangerous, but the Armenian government may push forward with such plans

    Tweet This

Editor's Note: Region Plus interviewed AEI Resident Scholar Michael Rubin about the future of US foreign policy in the South Caucasus.

There are some fears in the Azerbaijani analyst community that American policy in the region may be pro-Armenian, given that John Kerry (known for his ties to the Armenian Diaspora) is taking the helm at the State Department. What do you think of that?

Kerry has strong ties to the Armenian Diaspora, but I do not envision any change from the status quo when it comes to policy. Kerry is not known for consistency or principle on any side of any issue: when he no longer needs the Armenian community for election, I suspect he will ignore them. Frankly, Armenian activists I know in the United States fear that Kerry’s support for them was opportunistic, and not based on loyalty.
How would you comment on the opinion that American interests in the South Caucasus will decrease after the withdrawal of NATO troops from Afghanistan?
U.S. interest in the South Caucasus certainly will decrease with the withdrawal from Afghanistan. What’s worse is that no matter how much everyone in the region sees Vladimir Putin humiliating President Obama, Obama himself doesn’t recognize it and continues his flirtation with Moscow.
There are several security risks in the South Caucasus: Russian-Georgian relations, the Karabakh conflict, the situation in neighboring Iran. How serious are these risks and do you predict any military clashes in the region in the months to come?
The region is a tinderbox. What worries me most is Iranian overconfidence. While the United States won’t start a war with Iran, there is a danger that Iran will push the United States too far and force a reaction.
The former US Ambassador to Azerbaijan Matt Bryza said that President Obama will never be as active in the Karabakh settlement as Russian former President Medvedev was. Do you agree with that? Are there any restrictions to more US activity in the region?
Yes, I agree with Matt Bryza fully. I doubt Obama even knows where Karabakh is. From the White House perspective, crises in North Korea, Syria, Iran, Pakistan, Mexico, and Venezuela are always going to take priority. On top of that, Obama is not a man who values allies like Azerbaijan; he does not understand the importance of friendship. Even though, according to Wikileaks, Armenia has gone so far as to help Iran arm terrorists, Obama isn’t going to lift a finger. It really is a tragedy.  Azerbaijan deserves more from its relationship with the United States.

Armenians want to start using a new airport in the Azeri-occupied land. Do you believe they will? What potential consequences do you forsee?
To use an airport in occupied land is very dangerous. But the Armenian government may push forward with such plans. President Serzh Sargsyan presides over a failing economy and a declining population. The only thing he has to distract people is nationalism, and he will push ahead with that.  Nevertheless, the case of international reticence to use the airport in Northern Cyprus—at least for direct flights that don’t stop first in Turkey—will probably be a model for how any new airport on disputed land will function.

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine
About the Author



What's new on AEI

AEI Election Watch 2014: What will happen and why it matters
image A nation divided by marriage
image Teaching reform
image Socialist party pushing $20 minimum wage defends $13-an-hour job listing
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 27
  • 28
  • 29
  • 30
  • 31
Monday, October 27, 2014 | 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
State income taxes and the Supreme Court: Maryland Comptroller v. Wynne

Please join AEI for a panel discussion exploring these and other questions about this crucial case.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014 | 9:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
For richer, for poorer: How family structures economic success in America

Join Lerman, Wilcox, and a group of distinguished scholars and commentators for the release of Lerman and Wilcox’s report, which examines the relationships among and policy implications of marriage, family structure, and economic success in America.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014 | 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
The 7 deadly virtues: 18 conservative writers on why the virtuous life is funny as hell

Please join AEI for a book forum moderated by Last and featuring five of these leading conservative voices. By the time the forum is over, attendees may be on their way to discovering an entirely different — and better — moral universe.

Thursday, October 30, 2014 | 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
A nuclear deal with Iran? Weighing the possibilities

Join us, as experts discuss their predictions for whether the United States will strike a nuclear deal with Iran ahead of the November 24 deadline, and the repercussions of the possible outcomes.

Thursday, October 30, 2014 | 5:00 p.m. – 6:15 p.m.
The forgotten depression — 1921: The crash that cured itself

Please join Author James Grant and AEI senior economists for a discussion about Grant's book, "The Forgotten Depression: 1921: The Crash That Cured Itself" (Simon & Schuster, 2014).

No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled today.
No events scheduled this day.