The Turkey, Russia, Iran Nexus

This multi-program CSIS project is developing a comprehensive assessment of the nexus of relations between Turkey, Russia, and Iran. Competitive and cooperative interactions among these three countries in economic, energy, political, and security affairs is having a major influence on developments in the Eastern Mediterranean, Caucasus, and Central Asia. The project is assessing the geostrategic impact of these dynamics and their implications for U.S. interests and policy.

The project aims to provide practical recommendations to policymakers for managing U.S. relations with each of the three countries, influencing regional developments, and advancing several critical U.S. interests impacted by these dynamics—including dealing with the effects of the Syria crisis; stabilization of Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Caucasus; preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons; promoting positive change and peace in the Middle East; and diversification of energy sources. The project final report will integrate independent analysis by CSIS scholars with perspectives from Turkish, Russian, and Iranian counterparts. It will also offer insights into how neighbors in the Caucasus, Central Asia, and the Eastern Mediterranean are viewing and might react to various developments.

In the first phase of the project, CSIS scholars explored the domestic and international forces that are shaping bilateral relations and limited trilateral collaboration. We developed preliminary assessments of the future course of these relations based on convergences and divergences of interests and the impact of U.S. policy and other international developments. We continue to assess the policies of the three countries toward regional conflicts, ethnic minorities, security issues, and development of energy resources.

The project also seeks to promote understanding and dialogue among analysts from all three countries and the United States. In the second phase of the project, with support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, CSIS scholars have partnered with research institutions in Turkey (The Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey, TEPAV), and Russia (the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences), to organize two workshops—one focused on economic and energy issues, held in Ankara on March 29, 2012, and a second on political and security issues held in Moscow on June 18-19, 2012. We have also commissioned papers by Turkish, Russian, and Iranian analysts to solicit their perspectives on the drivers and long-term prospects of relations between these three countries. These exchanges with scholars and officials are designed to give our final analysis a deeper, multinational character. During the last half of 2012, the project will hold several Washington seminars on critical issues influenced by the Turkey-Russia-Iran nexus including the crisis in Syria, Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons, and developments in Central Asia and the Caucasus.

The project team is led by Stephen J. Flanagan, Henry A. Kissinger Chair, and includes Bulent Aliriza, Director and Senior Associate, Turkey Project; Jon B. Alterman, Director and Senior Fellow, Middle East Program; Edward C. Chow, Senior Fellow, Energy and National Security Program; and Andrew C. Kuchins, Director and Senior Fellow, Russia and Eurasia Program.