Shifting gears: Georgia’s Persian gambit and the logic of regional geopolitics

Georgian analyst, Kornely Kakachia, associate Professor of the Department of Political Science at Iv. Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University, writes about Georgia- Iran relations. In this insightful and important piece, which covers an area that has received scant coverage to date, the author observes that given Georgia’s pro-West orientation, Iran perceives Tbilisi as a “Westoxicated” regime, subservient to U.S. global and regional interests. The author describes Tbilisi’s view of Iran as a “pragmatic radical” within the region, which has the potential to play a constructive role in countering Russia’s geopolitical ambitions. Over the two decades since it regained independence, Georgia as a small, weak state has developed close relations with regional and international powers, and has aligned with them in order to compensate for its weakness. Often considered to be “the darling of the West” in the post-Soviet space, enjoying significant western support, Georgia’s recent move to establish closer political and economic links with the Islamic republic of Iran has caused some bewilderment in Western capitals. Considering that Georgia is perceived as a close partner of the United States in the Caucasus, and has received roughly $4.5 billion in Western aid over the past three years, these developments attracted intense scrutiny from policy-makers and regional analysts alike. The paper aims to examine Georgia’s Iran strategy, and attempts to identify the key causes and motivations pushing Tbilisi towards Tehran. It also examines Georgia’s international position in relation to pressing regional security issues, and the attendant risks.

Authors: Korneli Kakachia