Middle East And North Africa
The contrast between richly endowed oil-and-gas economies and resource-poor countries is an important marker in the region. Its strategic location between the East and West, along with its energy wealth, make it vulnerable to the clashing policies and interests of local and global powers, including the United States, Europe and Russia. Foreign interventions tend to exacerbate local conflicts.
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Iran’s choices in the Caucasus
The conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, recently halted by a Russia-backed cease-fire, exposed a new balance of foreign interests in the region. Iran has faced a difficult choice: whether to back a Shia Muslim Azerbaijan that is also receiving support from Israel and Turkey. The prospect of Israeli access to Iran’s northern border causes concern, as does agitation among the country’s sizable Azeri minority.