In this Special Report, Richard Weitz looks at the evolution of Azerbaijan and its key role in an important neighborhood.
With Russia and Iran as neighbors, Azerbaijan faces challenges.
The Republic of Azerbaijan, a close U.S. ally since Azerbaijanis regained their independence following the Soviet Union’s collapse, has become a prominent role model for Muslim-majority nations seeking to manage religious and ethnic differences in a harmonious and productive manner.
Thanks to its secular policies and embracing approach toward religious an ethnic diversity, Azerbaijanis have accrued substantial soft power as an attractive Muslim model for emulation by other countries.
By enhancing this soft power, the United States can challenge Iran’s influence among Muslims in the Middle East and elsewhere, where Azerbaijan is already viewed more favorably than Iran.