November started with the intensification of Russian-Iranian relations, which continues from 2015. The contacts between the political leadership, and big businesses, of the two countries have taken on special dynamics since then.
Putin arrived in Tehran to attend the Russia-Azerbaijan-Iran trilateral summit. In the middle of the previous month, US President Donald Trump refused to approve the White House nuclear deal, instructing Congress to take steps to revise it, as well as to tighten sanctions against Iran.
The meeting of the leaders of Russia and Iran, on the first day of this month, took place at a time of increasing US pressure on both countries. In this connection, there were some expectations regarding the coordination of joint targeted actions towards the US and the first steps towards the formation of a military-political alliance between them.
The starting point for Russia and Iran to strategic partnership could become Syria. The most favorable preconditions for establishing close military and political ties of cooperation between the two countries were outlined here. However, in the Syrian direction between Moscow and Tehran, everything is not so unambiguous.
At a meeting with Vladimir Putin in Tehran, the Iranian leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, called for a refusal to use the dollar and thereby isolate the US. Attempts by Washington to simultaneously isolate Russia and Iran, by imposing new sanctions, lead to a closer rapprochement of the two powers, which is in Azerbaijan’s advantage.
Azerbaijan, like the rest of the players, is forced to change the rules
"We are able to reflect American sanctions and isolate America," Iran's spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said at a meeting with Russian President, Vladimir Putin, in Tehran. You can isolate the US by abandoning the dollar and replacing it with national currencies in bilateral transactions.
The results of Putin's meeting with Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, and President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, who arrived in Tehran indicate that the idea of abandoning dollar dependence in a certain sense is already being implemented. Moscow, Tehran and Baku are considering the possibility of switching to national currencies. This was announced by Rouhani at the end of the Tehran summit.
The Iranian president also said: "We intend to create a green customs corridor between the three countries and comply with unified customs standards." According to Putin, Russia is ready to supply gas to the north of Iran through the pipeline system of Azerbaijan.
"Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan are major producers of hydrocarbons, but this does not mean that we have to compete. This means that we must coordinate our efforts”, Putin said.
External factors force Russia and Iran to mutually beneficial cooperation. On October 31, the United States imposed new sanctions against Iran, under which the largest energy companies of the country fell.
"The agreement reached by Aliyev, Rouhani and Putin is a direct road to the Persian Gulf. This is a very beneficial agreement for Russia and no less beneficial for Iran and Azerbaijan”, said Mais Kurbanov.
Putin supported Tehran's plans to build the missing section of the West Caspian route, a branch between the Iranian port of Rasht in the Caspian and the old border between Iran and Azerbaijan. The rules of the game are changing in the Middle East region. Azerbaijan, at the moment, is considered an important figure in the relationship between Iran and Russia. However, the Nagorno-Karabakh (NK) conflict should be emphasized.
The above points contribute to the development of economic chains; but for Azerbaijan, the issue of territorial integrity is paramount.
Since 1992, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe has been engaged in the process of "Negotiations" and to this day, there are no results that could correspond to the interests of Azerbaijan. In this scenario, Azerbaijan, like the rest of the players, is forced to change the rules of the game and take concrete measures to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Despite the fact that the presidents repeatedly met and discussed a number of issues, the NK problem was not delved into deeply by either Russia or Iran. Then the question arises: "What if?"
What if Russia does not benefit from the settlement of this gap? What if Azerbaijan chooses close cooperation with the US?
Probably, because of fear of the appearance of the US military base in Azerbaijan, Russia and Iran do not exclude this country from the triangle. After all, Azerbaijan has a strategically important position in the South Caucasus. It is possible that both Russia and Iran do not want to border with a powerful country that will dictate the rules to them.
Each country has its own trump cards. But, does Azerbaijan have enough of its trump cards to solve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict? The next summit of the heads of Iran, Russia and Azerbaijan will be held in 2018 in Moscow, said Iranian President, Hasan Rouhani, at the final press conference.