Pragmatic politics: Iran, Central Asia and cultural foreign policy

Wastnidge, Edward (2014). Pragmatic politics: Iran, Central Asia and cultural foreign policy. Central Asia and the Caucasus Journal, 15(4) pp. 119–130.



Since the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991, Central Asia assumed renewed importance in Iranian foreign policy. The region has played a significant role in Iran’s historical geography, and Persian cultural influence continues to felt in the region today. Iran has sought to present itself as a “status-quo” power in its bilateral and multilateral approaches to Central Asia, something that is in marked contrast to the revolutionary rhetoric highlighted in Western media analyses of its foreign policy. This paper focuses on how Iran has made use of its historical cultural weight in the region to further its influence, something that is evident in its increasing activity in fellow Persian-speaking nations of Tajikistan and Afghanistan. As such, the paper will demonstrate how Iran has sought to present a pragmatic face to the region, one that draws on its own cultural levers as a way of expanding its influence.

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