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Is the South Caucasus Region a Part of the Middle East?

Michael B. Bishku

Abstract


Following the end of the Cold War and the break-up of the Soviet Union, Middle Easternists and Eastern Europeanists/Soviet specialists engaged in what seemed to be a turf war over the study of the Caucasus and Central Asia. While these regions have Slavic inhabitants as a result of the historic expansion of Russia, their histories until the respective Russian conquests were connected with the Middle East. Over the last century, the term Middle East has replaced or at least become far more employed than the term Near East. However, academics, journalists, policy-makers and the general public are still unsure of that region's (or concept's) boundaries. It is true that the countries of the South Caucasus still are connected economically with Russia to varying degrees as almost three-quarters of a century of Soviet rule mostly under a command economy were responsible for developing those ties and that Russia currently employs political leverage in a region that it still regards as the Near Abroad, that is to say, its own backyard.

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Published by the University of Florida Press on behalf of the Association of Global South Studies.