TEHRAN – Pomp and fanfare at the Kazakh Embassy in Tehran on Thursday. Resident diplomats and friends of Kazakhestan waited in the lush pastures of the embassy compound in the foothills of Damavand when Kazakh Minister of Culture, Ali Akbar Salehi and a large retinue of local officials and dignitaries entered the compound. Arystanbek Mukhamediuly played his part; Kazakh Ambassador Baghdad Amreyeu cited a generous eulogy of Al Akbar Salehi. The Head of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran was vested with the special badge of honour of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev.
The proceedings at the ceremony were accompanied by Kazakh music and superb culinary dishes from Almaty. Lamb roast with sauté potatoes, chicken in rich sauce and a special pasta dish, superbly presented at a specially prepared buffet in a corner of the vast precinct. Hors d’oeuvres and salads were tastefully laid on a side table.
The gist of the occasion was to mark the 25th Independence Day of Kazakhstan but the large contingent of Russians at the event left no doubt as to high stakes in the emerging Caucasian region for Iran.
Salehi was simultaneously named Vie-President of Iran since his knowledge of Kazakh capital Astana and all things Russian excels. Contracts worth some US $20 billion for two Nuclear Power Plants and some US $ 2.5 billion contract for railway networks have been inked with Moscow.
Iranians will soon be able to travel freely to Moscow. The stark contrast of war-torn Afghanistan and Libya to comparative calm in the Caucuses is a reminder of post-Soviet domination and 30-year devastation of Western intrusion into the Middle East.