The USA Leaves the South Caucasus and Promise to Back Soon
By Vakhtang Maisaia, Professor, Ph.D. in politics and military science
Due to recent developed processes, it is making clear that the USA is leaving not only the Central Asia together with Afghanistan but also its positions are weakening in the South Caucasus region. The process started when Donald Trump became President of the USA and in his National Security Strategy drafted and adopted in 2017, at first time, the term “South Caucasus” was removed from the document and it has happened since Bill Clinton entered the term “South Caucasus/Caucasus” as one of the key priority geostrategic regions for pursuing its national interests at global and regional levels. Hence, it became clear that for Trump Administration the region was considering less priority and the same tendency seems continuous with regard with John Biden’s Administration too (amid the Biden’s team during the pre-election campaign vowed on high intensification and articulation of foreign policy goals and activities, including the South Caucasus). There are several indications illustrating that the USA geopolitical influence drastically decreased at the regional level and per individual in the regional states (Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan). In that case it should be outlining the general geopolitical factors indicating why and how the American politics failed at the South Caucasus region and here are concrete ones:
1) After Nagorno-Karabakh war in November 2020 when the regional geopolitical power disposition changed, Turkey proposed on creating new regional security format in aegis: “3+3” (local regional actors Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan) and regional hegemons – Russia, Iran and Turkey). The initiative was proposed by President Erdogan himself and as it is seen in the format had been excluded EU and USA amid before the both actors were directly involved in the similar ones, like Heydar Aliev’s – incumbent Azerbaijani President’s further and then President of Azerbaijan – proposal in 2002 “3+2+2” where last 2 included – USA and EU). Now the USA was excluded by the all actors, including even Georgia which joined the regional security modality in May of 2021. Hence, it is clear that Turkey completely rejected and denounced the USA participation into the regional geopolitics. It is interesting that Turkey proposed to include in the modality USA’s enemy – Iran. This is indicated on downgradation of the American interests at the region. Hereby to be mentioned that Turkey has also rejected completely acceptance of Afghani refugees on its territories despite of allocation of the Biden’s Administration allocated more than $100 million for these purposes. By the way, it seems that even Georgia and Azerbaijan have also rejected the proposal from the USA. This is a clear implication of American taking off the region;
2) The USA has failed when brokered and promoted construction of the Anaklia deep sea port run by the American consortium “Anaklia Development Anaklia” – is an international consortium which combines international and local companies with specialized experiences in their respective fields. Backgrounds that together form the right global business leadership team will work well with the Government of Georgia to execute and fulfill Anaklia deep sea port project. The ADC is composed of TBC holding from Georgia and SSA Marine from the United States. The project was lobbied by the USA Administration, at level of State Secretary Pompeo (see the statement in English).
Statement then State Secretary Mike Pompeo on Anaklia Consortium:
However, the Georgian government despite of the immense support from the American administration, canceled the project and stroke to the American national interests at the region. It is a suspicious scenario that the cancellation was coincided with resignation of pro-American supported Prime Minister George Kvirikashvili. By the way, the USA government just presently canceled official visit of incumbent Prime-minister Irakli Garibashvili’s visit to the country and before the cancellation were provided by the three Baltic state governments who rejected the Georgian Prime-minister visit due to his pro-Russian sentiments. Recently the American Embassy sharply criticized the incumbent Georgian ruling party “Georgian Dream” for withdrawal from the April 19th Agreement and sharply denounced the Georgian government’s decision to evade from the Agreement brokered by the EU and USA together. “All of the signatories should be held accountable to their commitments in the Agreement. While we continue to press for all parties to sign and fully implement the agreement, Georgian Dream’s unilateral withdrawal is another deviation from the letter and spirit of the negotiations Georgian Dream participated in and the agreement they signed. This decision by the ruling party only creates more political instability for the country and raises questions about Georgian Dream’s commitment to achieving Georgia’s democratic goals, goals that Georgian Dream itself set for the country” – this is part of the statement declared by the USA Embassy very recently;
3) As for other South Caucasus states – Armenia and Azerbaijan – the USA dominance and involvement into affairs of these states are very minimal due to foreign policy orientation reasons: Armenia is member of the CSTO and Eurasian Union and deploys on its territories the Russian military base and Air Force squadron. Azerbaijan is pursuing non-alignment foreign policy that is making distance from the USA involvement into the Caspian Basin. Moreover, against Azerbaijan is being under restrictions of Congress Act#907 enacted in 1996 by the Armenian lobby in the USA and that is stipulation of any kind of governmental support provision and actually Azerbaijan is partly under sanction policy from the USA policymakers. Despite of the matter, the Biden Administration declared statement on providing Azerbaijan military financial aid but it seems so that probably Azerbaijan President is still reconsidering the proposal amid Azerbaijan indeed does not need the military assistance as based on its internal resources could promote its defence capabilities that was confirmed in 44 days war in Nagorno Karabakh. It means that even in Armenia and in Azerbaijan the American influence is very low and moreover, Azerbaijan coincided with ex-partner to USA i.e. Pakistan together with Turkey.
4) The most recent event has occurred lately when twenty seven Congressmen of the USA has signed up the petition to State-Secretary Blinken exploiting deep concern on dissemination the Turkish drones causing real harm to the American national interests, including in the South Caucasus. It was underscored that Turkey develops close cooperation with Russia and Pakistan on joint production and the drones inflate the military conflicts in the MENA, in the South Caucasus and in Central Asia. The protest against Turkey also implicates the USA distance from the regional geopolitics whilst contesting with its two allies – Turkey and Pakistan. Meanwhile “Taliban” is controlling more than 75% of the territories.
It is clear that the USA leaves and stagers off combating for pursuing its national interests in the Caucasus-Caspian basin and further on and when the USA decides come backs as the Biden Administration vows who knows.