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Within the context of Iran’s ongoing efforts to mitigate its international isolation under U.S. structural primacy, Central Asia has occupied a prominent place in Tehran’s endeavours to cultivate relations with neighbouring states and to participate in non-Western regionalism. Although Iran’s desire to assume a greater role in Central Asia has often been precluded by a complex mosaic of domestic, regional, and international constraints, Tehran has ventured to position itself as a desirable security and economic partner for the Central Asian states. Consequently, examining Iranian foreign policy at the regional level in Central Asia moves beyond conventional understandings of Iran as either an aspiring regional hegemon enmeshed in competition for influence in the Middle East or as a ‘rogue state’ seeking to undermine an ostensibly liberal order. Therefore, through an emphasis on Tehran’s bilateral and multilateral engagement with the Central Asian states, Russia, and China, this presentation focuses on the underlying drivers and constraints shaping Iranian foreign policy in Central Asia including its security, political, cultural, and economic interests in the region.
Nicole Grajewski is an Associate Research Fellow at the OSCE Academy where her research examines Iranian foreign policy in Central Asia. She is currently a doctoral candidate in Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Oxford, specializing in Russian and Iranian perspectives on international order, Russia-Iran relations, and Russian foreign policy in the Middle East and Central Asia. She received her MPhil degree in Russian and East European Studies from Oxford and graduated from the George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs with an honors degree in International Affairs, Security Policy and Middle Eastern Studies. Nicole has also held positions at CNN, the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Hudson Institute. She is a Fellow for the Carnegie Corporation of New York’s University Consortium and a member of the OSCE’s “Perspectives 2030” Core Group of Experts.
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