Date of Graduation

Spring 2012


Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies


Defense and Strategic Studies

Committee Chair

Andrei Shoumikhin


Abkhazia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, conflict transformation, Georgia, Iran, Nagorno-Karabakh, Russia, South Caucasus, South Ossetia, Turkey

Subject Categories

Defense and Security Studies


Twenty years after the fall of the Soviet Union, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia are still addressing the challenges of post-Soviet independence, albeit with varying degrees of success. Due mostly to its strategic geographic position, the most central aspect of the South Caucasus today is the multiple foreign policy agendas at play in the region. The United States, Russia, Iran and Turkey all compete for influence in the region. Thus, the South Caucasus will retain a high degree of geopolitical significance in the near future. The unresolved conflicts in Nagorno-Karabakh, South Ossetia and Abkhazia are the greatest inhibitors to enhanced security in the region. Additionally, the South Caucasus also suffers from widespread corruption and weak democratic institutions. The U.S. has a number of important interests in the region and its continued engagement will be necessary to ensure that the South Caucasus develops in a way that is favorable to the U.S. To this end, maintaining an active role in ongoing peace processes, curbing Iranian influence in the region and supporting Georgia's NATO integration ought to be key U.S. foreign policy priorities in the South Caucasus.


© Sean Edward Kavanagh

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