I ran across this development while researching another article on Iran’s sanctions against 15 American Companies. It appears that Tehran and Moscow are strengthening ties in their relations with each other.
As part of a high-level Iranian delegation, Rouhani will leave Tehran for Moscow on Monday (March 27, 2017) to hold talks with Putin and other senior officials of the country.Among the areas of interest between Russian and Iranian officials are agreements to bolster cooperation in the legal and judicial sectors, roads and urban development, technology and communications, energy and sports.
In order to lay the groundwork for these agreements, Iran has also been involved in talks with Azerbaijan in areas concerning drug smuggling, cyber crimes and Takfiri terrorism (i.e. terrorism inspired by Islamic extremeism). Both of them are predominately Shia Muslim though Azerbaijan is secular with religion having little influence in the daily lives of its citizens when compared with its southern neighbor.
The key to strengthening ties between the two countries appears to be a transportation corridor that would link Iran with Russia via Azerbaijan.
Russia has also been active in improving relations with both Azerbaijan though its approach appears to be more conservative than Iran. At the same time it is improving relations with Azerbaijan, it is upgrading its military agreement with Armenia. Azerbaijan and Armenia have been historic rivals due to the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute and ideological differences in religion.
How would this play out with President Trump and his sanctions is open to interpretation but it appears that Putin is encouraging a policy independent of the west. Despite his admiration for Putin, it does not appear likely that US-Russia relations will be as close as Trump hopes for.
Iran and Azerbaijan are members of the ECO (Economic Cooperation Organization) while Russia and Armenia are members of the EEU (Eurasian Economic Union)
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