Svante E. Cornell
Since the end of the 1980s, the world's interest in the Caucasus region has kept growing. Especially since 1996, interest in the oil resources of the Caspian Sea has created yet more need for information about the region. But the Caucasus remains a very little known area in the backyard of Europe. To political scientists, peace researchers and sociologists, the Caucasus is increasingly interesting because of many conflicts in the region. Indeed, out of eight armed ethnopolitical conflicts in the former Soviet Union, five have taken place in the Caucasus. These conflicts, although very complex and diverse, present several common factors and dynamics. The Caucasian conflicts are also interesting in that they involve three major regional players: Russia (the former hegemon), Iran, and Turkey, all of which have their own designs for the area. The triangular power relationship is dangerous as it means that conflicts in the area may become international and escalate into major power struggles. The Caucasus is, furthermore, a region of vital US interest, and the actual and perceived importance of the area in world affairs is growing.
At the same time, the conflicts of the region remain unsolved and frozen along cease- fire lines. Re-escalation is possible in all conflicts and the situation is often precarious. This book provides a thoroughly in-depth analysis of the current and potential conflicts in the Caucasus. Part I introduces the geographical, historical and ethno- linguistic framework of the Caucasus, focusing on the Russian incorporation of the region, to which the roots of almost all these conflicts can be drawn. Part II analyses the conflicts individually, from the origins of each conflict and a conclusion on the place of the Caucasus in world affairs.