Emil Avdaliani

Director of Middle East Studies


Director of Middle East Studies at Geocase and professor of international relations at European University. He holds a master's degree from the University of Oxford and PhD degree from Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University (TSU). His doctorate thesis focuses on Byzantine and Sassanian military strategy in late antiquity. Dr Avdaliani currently teaches history and international relations at European University and Ilia State University. He has published a number of books including his latest "New World Order and Small Regions: The Case of South Caucasus".

Dr Avdaliani specializes on modern political and military issues in the South Caucasus and wider Eurasia with a particular focus on Iran, Turkey, and China.

Dr Avdaliani has worked for different international consulting companies a regional analyst covering Russia and its neighbours. He regularly publishes works at CEPA, RUSI,, Georgia Today etc.

He speaks and writes in English, French, Russian, Farsi, Chinese and Kurmanji.



Grand Strategy of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Part I

17 Sept 2020
Geography matters   To understand modern Iran, its geopolitical aspirations in the Middle East and the South Caucasus and Central Asia, geography is of crucial importance. More than in the case of any other large Middle Eastern state, modern Iran’s geography is a de...
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Analysis: Azerbaijan-Russia Ties Face Increasing Challenges

22 Sept 2020
Russia-Azerbaijan ties face increased challenges as Baku accused Moscow of purposefully stoking the conflict by providing arms to Armenia. It is notable that this rhetoric develops when Turkey is particularly vocal in its military support for Azerbaijan. Though it still...
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The Nobels in Georgia: Oil, Pipelines & Geopolitics. Part I

23 Sept 2020
In 19th century Georgia, the development of economic relations, based on the principles of capitalism, brought many foreign entrepreneurs and investor companies to the country. The following story is a perfect example of this process and concerns such giants of the fina...
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A Chill in Georgia-China Relations

3 Nov 2020
China has disappointed Georgian leaders who hoped they could balance between superpowers.   A sense of growing disenchantment is starting to dominate China-Georgia relations. Given China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and Georgia’s geographical importanc...
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The Next US Administration And Georgia

7 Nov 2020
Under the next US administration, the general approach to the South Caucasus and Georgia in particular will see little change, as US strategic interests in the region prevail over some of the the past years’ foreign policy inconsistencies and the growing disparity betwe...
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Turkey’s Re-Emergence in the Caucasus after 100 years

13 Dec 2020
As the second Karabakh War ended, it is time to reflect on Russian aims in the South Caucasus. Thought by many as a victory for Moscow in its being able to station its peacekeepers, and in the truncated Karabakh, an alternative view might be presented.   First are t...
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Changing Connectivity Patterns in the South Caucasus

21 Mar 2021
Connectivity patterns in the South Caucasus are changing. What used to be a relatively landlocked region, despite its access to the Black Sea, is now opening up, with Turkey and Iran likely to have new railway connections to Russia.   A cornerstone of this change is...
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Taking Stock of Recent Developments in the South Caucasus. Part I

6 Apr 2021
Georgia’s regional position is quickly changing. External powers are increasing their influence in the South Caucasus, causing revverbations across the very fabric of the geopolitical balance of power which had prevailed for years, if not decades. Take Russia, which, it...
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Taking Stock of Recent Developments in the South Caucasus. Part 2

6 Apr 2021
Following the Second Karabakh War, there are ongoing talks about restoring the Soviet-era railways from Azerbaijan to Armenia, from Armenia to Azerbaijan’s Nakhchivan. Those links will allow Russia and Iran to have a direct link to each other. Turkey pursues its own rai...
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Taking Stock of Recent Developments in the South Caucasus. Part 3

14 Apr 2021
An important change that concerns Georgia is the emergence of new trade routes in the South Caucasus. Today, there is talk of reviving the Soviet-era railways from Russia to Azerbaijan to Armenia, and from Armenia to Nakhichevan. This will potentially allow Iran to conn...
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Georgia’s Army and the Country’s Evolving Strategic Position

20 Apr 2021
Georgia’s military is increasingly facing various challenges emanating from the changing balance of power in the South Caucasus. So far there are adequate responses which involve initiation of an air-defence systems upgrade as well as that of the overall strategic think...
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Georgia as a Part of Integrated Europe

7 May 2021
Read the full publication    Authors of the publication: Emil Avdaliani, Director of Middle East Studies, Geocase Tedo Dundua, Professor (Full), Institute of Georgian History, Faculty of Humanities, Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University
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Thoughts on the Russian Policy towards Unrecognized Territories

7 May 2021
A special case for the study of Russia’s evolving approach toward territorial conflicts along its borders is the Nagorno-Karabakh issue. The long-standing Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict, in which Russia has never been militarily involved but has indirectly been in its orbi...
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The US, China, and the Race for 5G in the South Caucasus

13 May 2021
As the US-China geopolitical divide looms ever larger and competing visions for global order are yet to crystallize, the technological realm and the spread of 5G is one area where both Beijing and Washington are pursuing different scenarios.  As the signaling for potent...
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A Counter-Enlightenment Creeps Through Eurasia

13 May 2021
Eurasia’s illiberal states are withstanding the liberal democratic project and ultimately popularizing authoritarian methods of governance We live in the age of counter-Enlightenment. What seemed like a collection of dispersed autocratic and simply illiberal states...
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China Seeks to Boost its Role in the Arctic

28 May 2021
As of late, China has increased its engagement within the Arctic region. Natural resources, as well as new, trans-oceanic trade routes, motivate Beijing to seek larger space for itself. As the region is effectively a closed one, China has to partner with regional states...
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Georgia’s Defense Investments Can Send Message to NATO

28 May 2021
Georgia could start its own production of drones, which would strengthen its bid to join the NATO alliance. NATO aspirations require military efficiency. This includes having a proper air defense system and an effective army to withstand foreign aggression (at leas...
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Silk, Spices and Oil - ‘Transcaucasian’ Trade Route and Georgia

31 May 2021
Authors:  Emil Avdaliani, Director of Middle East Studies, Geocase Tedo Dundua, Professor of History, Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University   Read the full version of the publication
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China and Russia Build a Central Asian Exclusion Zone

16 June 2021
China and Russia are about to introduce a new order in Central Asia while the West is preoccupied elsewhere Last month, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi hosted the China+Central Asia Foreign Ministers’ meeting in the Chinese city of Xi'an. This is t...
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Georgia in the Post-Liberal World Order

18 June 2021
We live in the post-liberal world order. Post-liberalism does not mean abandoning liberal values, although the energy and ambitions that have characterized this global project under US leadership since the 1990s are nowadays dwindling significantly. Post-liberalism will...
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Iran, Russia, and Turkey: A Eurasionist Model of Foreign Relations

24 June 2021
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Iran, Turkey, and Russia are building a new model of bilateral ties. Unshackled by formal alliances, the trio is showing it can work together to limit Western influence while avoiding an overreliance on one another. This mixture of correlating and con...
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A New Fault-line through Georgia

16 July 2021
As emotions subside, it is now time to put what happened in Tbilisi into perspective. In a conservative country such as Georgia, antagonism to all the things liberal could run deep at times. Resistance to novelties, especially those sexual or religious, is bound to caus...
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Georgia-Saudi Arabia Relations: Challenges and Untapped Potential

The joint paper between the Gulf Research Center (GRC) and Geocase focuses on areas of cooperation between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Georgia. This includes fields of proposed developments within the economic sector including tourism, deepening business and commerc...
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Iran Plays Eurasianist Card

7 Sept 2021
China and Iran signed an expansive deal in Tehran on March 27 this year. Neither Iranian nor Chinese leadership revealed the details of the agreement, but analysts suggest that it was largely along the lines of a leaked 18-page draft published last year by The New York...
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Prospects of Armenia-Turkey Rapprochement

9 Sept 2021
Potential Armenia-Turkey rapprochement could have a major influence on South Caucasus geopolitics. The opening of the border would allow Turkey to have a better connection with Azerbaijan beyond the link it already has with the Nakhchivan exclave. Moscow will not be ent...
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The Rise of the Indo-Pacific

15 Sept 2021
The world is witnessing the rise of a new geopolitical concept: the Indo-Pacific. The shift of American attention toward the Indo-Pacific could create more room for maneuver for China, Russia, and Iran in their respective neighborhoods over the long term.   The worl...
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Erdogan the Likely Winner as Post-War Armenia Rethinks

3 Oct 2021
Turkey’s foray into the South Caucasus seems to be paying off, as the country nibbles away at Russia’s long-held hegemony in the region. It is only a year since Turkey demonstrated its new power in the South Caucasus, providing significant military and other help t...
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The Caliber.Az interview with Emil Avdaliani, Director of Middle East Studies at Geocase

7 Oct 2021
The interview is available in Russian. Please download the PDF
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Is Iran Ready for Great Power Competition in the South Caucasus?

20 Oct 2021
This geopolitical edifice came down as a result of the 2020 war. Armenia was heavily defeated by an ascendant Azerbaijan, which joined forces with Turkey to create a new status quo along Iran’s northern border. Iran’s peace initiatives were spurned both by Armenia and A...
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Proceed With Caution: South Caucasus Inch Forward

29 Oct 2021
Connectivity in the South Caucasus gets a major boost with Armenia’s railroad agreement. There is good news from the South Caucasus, at least for some. Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a bloody conflict in the mountains of Nagorno-Karabakh last year and yet 12 months...
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For China, Private Military Companies are the Future

8 Nov 2021
Despite the troubles the industry currently faces, Beijing is likely to increase its reliance on PMCs. The present international environment—with a deteriorating global security situation and a sprawling Belt and Road Initiative—underlines the need for protection of gro...
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Russia: The Neighbor From Hell

21 Nov 2021
Three crises along Russia’s borders offer an insight into how the Kremlin tries to translate turbulence into geopolitical profit.  From Belarus to Ukraine to Georgia, an arc of instability has emerged, offering opportunities for malign activities by foreign powers....
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Ukraine is Back on Russia’s Agenda

26 Nov 2021
The vast attention paid to China’s Belt and Road Initiative misses the historical precedents on which it is based. Hearkening back to the nomadic understanding of the geography of medieval times, the Chinese are following through on what the Mongols, and later Tamerlane...
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The Chinese Are Doing What the Mongols Did Before Them, Only Better

26 Nov 2021
The vast attention paid to China’s Belt and Road Initiative misses the historical precedents on which it is based. Hearkening back to the nomadic understanding of geography of medieval times, the Chinese are following through on what the Mongols, and later Tamerlane, at...
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For the US, it Takes Time to Build an Effective China Strategy

6 Dec 2021
The US President Joe Biden may have opposite views on nearly all the aspects of foreign policy pursued by Donald Trump, but one area is likely to remain unchanged if not pursued even more vigorously: Washington’s Indo-Pacific strategy.   China will remain at the top...
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Much More Than Just Ukraine

8 Dec 2021
A failure to prevent further Russian advances into Ukraine will have ramifications across the South Caucasus and Central Asia. A war scare in Ukraine is a pivotal moment for the West. It tests transatlantic resolve, unity, and the very foundations of NATO. Failure...
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Growing Role of South Caucasus For Iran

25 Dec 2021
Under the Raisi government Iran seems to pursue an increasingly diversified foreign policy. China and Russia play a critical role in this thinking. Changes also involve Iran’s vision of the South Caucasus which has lately been of bigger importance to the Islamic Republi...
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Imagining the Future World Order

3 Jan 2022
A world without American primacy could prove a dangerous place. In comparison with the powers of the past, American dominance in world affairs overall has been more benevolent. Yet, during its worst stage, especially the early 2000s, the US policies have stoked resis...
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Kazakhstan: ‘Enlightened Authoritarianism’ Is in Flames

6 Jan 2022
Kazakhs are demanding change, and while the failure of enlightened authoritarianism is a domestic issue, events are certain to reverberate. Kazakhstan faces what seems at the time of writing (January 5) an attempt by its citizens to overthrow the pro-Russian politi...
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Russia in the South Caucasus: Between Omnipotence and Fragility

4 Feb 2022
Over the past two decades Russia in the South Caucasus has achieved much militarily, but its prestige as a power has been decreasing. This happens at the same time as the reliance on the military elements in formulating its foreign policy toward the region drastically i...
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Political Life in Abkhazia Fragile as Ever

14 Feb 2022
Abkhazia is notoriously unruly. It is also in a way exceptional as it does not fit into other separatist regions managed by Russia. There is an active political culture and lively debates, whether on foreign policy or methods of internal governance.   These disputes...
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Turkey and the West: In Search For A Credible Black Sea Strategy

18 Feb 2022
Formulating a long-term strategy requires willingness and reliable partners. In the Black Sea the two components are missing which makes the West’s position weak. To reverse the development amid growing Russian influence, reliance on Turkey could prove to be a significa...
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Georgia: Balanced on a Knife-Edge

4 Mar 2022
Georgia fears Russian military power but needs to side with the West against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Russia’s war on Ukraine transfixes the world, and for obvious reasons. The sheer brutality and the size of the attack on Europe’s second-biggest state grab al...
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South Caucasus Closely Watches Ukraine

13 Mar 2022
As the Russian invasion of Ukraine reverberates across the world, one region particularly susceptible to unfolding geopolitical changes is the South Caucasus. Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia are trying to maneuver trying to balance between potential Russian reprisals a...
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China Struggles to Strike a Balance Amid Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

24 Mar 2022
As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues, China’s position has been thrust firmly into the spotlight. With the war dragging out longer than anticipated, Beijing finds itself only hemmed further into an increasingly difficult position.   However, more broadly, the w...
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Back to Normalcy: Azerbaijan’s Evolving Foreign Policy

31 Mar 2022
The past several years of Azerbaijan’s foreign policy were quite eventful. Its relations with the three big players, Iran, Turkey, and Russia, have been transformed changing many aspects of Baku’s position in the South Caucasus.   It has long been argued that the Se...
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South Caucasus Shudder in the Shadow of Russia’s War

8 Apr 2022
Balancing is the most commonplace word in the South Caucasus. This is how the three states approach the war Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. As the Russian invasion of Ukraine reverberates across the world, the South Caucasus region is especially susceptible to the da...
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For Abkhazia and South Ossetia Security with Russia Equals Economic Troubles

29 Apr 2022
Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine expands Moscow’s “separatist empire.” But it also puts tremendous pressure on Georgia’s occupied territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Prospects of economic development are bleak, while dependence on Moscow will only grow bringin...
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Russia’s War Creates Opportunities for China in Central Asia

5 July 2022
As the war in Ukraine continues, China sees greater economic and political openings in Central Asia, the region extremely wary of Russian military ambitions.   Russia’s invasion of Ukraine reverberated far and deep across the Eurasian continent. One region which esp...
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China's Belt And Road Focuses On New Eurasian Trade Routes Due To Ukraine War

19 July 2022
Moving shipping containers from China through Russia to the European Union became a vital part of Beijing's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), but Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and the Western sanctions that followed have forced China to search for alternatives.   F...
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Constructing the Middle Corridor: the Case of Georgia and Kazakhstan

29 July 2022
Georgia and Kazakhstan are two critical countries along the Middle Corridor. Each has long argued for the expansion of the route. The geopolitical situation, however, was not propitious until the war in Ukraine upended the very fabric of Eurasian connectivity. The chall...
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Georgia: A Deluge of Russians

23 Aug 2022
Georgians increasingly fear the influx of Russians. The numbers are staggering and there is rising bad feeling. The Russians are coming to Georgia. This time at least they’re not in tanks, but as visitors either arriving as tourists or staying in the country indefi...
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China’s BRICS Expansion Plans

30 Aug 2022
Traditionally loose BRICS has faced serious problems on its road to expansion. Exacerbated great power competition, however, paves the way for such a scenario. The war in Ukraine accelerated the global re-alignment of forces. China, Russia, Iran, and a host of le...
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New Fighting Flares in the South Caucasus

14 Sept 2022
With Russia preoccupied in Ukraine, Armenia and Azerbaijan have clashed in the most serious fighting since the 2020 war. All the evidence so far suggests that military operations were launched by Azerbaijan against Armenia in an apparent attempt to force concession...
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SCO Summit Advances China’s Position in Central Asia

22 Sept 2022
Amid the attention paid to the Putin-Xi meeting, Beijing has advanced its goals in Central Asia. The recent Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit held in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, on 15-16 September marked the first time since the start of the pandemic that t...
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Chinese Companies Are Reshaping Georgia’s Geography

12 Oct 2022
On September 21, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili in New York, during the United Nations General Assembly, and stressed the importance of the Middle Corridor (or Trans-Caspian International Transport Route, “TITR”), w...
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Hobbled Russia Cedes Influence to China

19 Oct 2022
China has been active lately in Central Asia, the region which serves as a gateway for Beijing’s sprawling, though much-troubled, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The current moment is especially auspicious for China because Russia, its close but geopolitically inferior...
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China, Russia, and Attempts to Build the 'Eurasian' Order

24 Oct 2022
To read the full article please download the PDF file
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Few-Friends Russia Embraces Iran

16 Nov 2022
Russia once viewed the G-20 group of leading economies as the world’s key cooperative forum. No longer. The November 15-16 meeting in Bali will not be attended by Vladimir Putin and there is therefore little chance that his isolation will be illustrated through face-to-...
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As Russian Influence Plummets, China Capitalizes in Central Asia

18 Nov 2022
The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has finally initiated its highly anticipated railway project to Uzbekistan. On the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit held in September 2022, the official decision was made to begin actively working on th...
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Russia’s Dying Eurasian Dream

22 Nov 2022
Russian multilateralism is unraveling. Cracks that were always visible within the Kremlin-dominated Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) groupings are now becoming ever more explicit.     The immediate cause is Russia’s ag...
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From Balancing to Extraction

25 Nov 2022
To divide Russia and China, the West first needs to push Moscow toward Beijing. The West needs to think long-term when it comes to the China-Russia partnership. The methods used thus far to divide their growing cooperation have failed. Instead, what the West first needs...
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Kazakhstan’s Expanding Multi-Vector Foreign Policy

4 Jan 2023
Recently, Kazakhstani Energy Minister Bolat Akchulakov declared that, while his country maintains close ties with Russia and Uzbekistan on gas transit, no formal discussions have been held regarding the possible formation of a gas union, the trilateral initiative sugges...
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Germany, the EU, and the South Caucasus

26 Jan 2023
Over the course of 2022, Germany turned from being an ardent opponent to EU expansion to becoming its enabler. Reasons vary, but the war in Ukraine and the resulting changes in connectivity, availability of energy resources and diminishing economic contacts with Russia,...
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Iran Embassy Killing Shakes Region

31 Jan 2023
Early on the morning of January 27, a man armed with an automatic rifle entered Azerbaijan’s embassy in Tehran, killed the head of security, and wounded two other guards.     There the accounts began to diverge. Azerbaijan said the event was a terrorist attack, whil...
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Challenges to the Liberal Order

4 Feb 2023
The liberal international order is experiencing fundamental challenges. It has witnessed numerous crises since the end of the World War II. The Nazi and Communist movements were both mortal enemies; liberalism triumphed, leading it to its expansion across the globe afte...
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Armenia Tries to Diversify Its Foreign Policy Away From Russia

14 Feb 2023
On January 23, the European Union announced it would be sending a civilian mission to Armenia for a two-year term to document tensions on the border with Azerbaijan (, January 23; see EDM, February 8). The EU’s recent decision follows earlier attempts...
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Shadow Enemies Cause Iran Jitters

4 May 2023
Tensions between Iran and Azerbaijan are reaching a critical point. The two neighbors have never been friendly, but pragmatism driven by growing bilateral trade and at times overlapping geopolitical imperatives often aided the search for common ground.    This chang...
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Don’t You Love Me? Cracks in the Iran-Russia Romance

22 July 2023
Since the full-scale war in Ukraine began, Russia and Iran have advanced their ties in the military, economic, and intelligence spheres. The established narrative has been that the two are now nearing the creation of a de facto alliance.     Animated by opposition t...
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