The Role of Iran and Turkey in Central Asia

The Role of Iran and Turkey and in Central Asia

Dr. Rahmat Hajimine

The Institute for Islamic World Future Studies held the webinar on “The Role of Regional Powers in Central Asia” following the series webinars 2020 on 28 October of this year. In the Second part, the speaker was Dr. Rahmat Hajimine, the assistant Professor in International Relation of Islamic Azad University in Tehran, Iran. He is also the author and activist in Eurasian field of study. He presented the Role of Iran and Turkey in the Central Asian Region in particular.

Iran and Turkey, The Two Regional Powers in Central Asia

Most of the five newly independent landlocked states, have great situation in exporting energy that is a significant point for themselves and the regional powers there. About Iran’s foreign policy toward Central Asia, there are some factors which determine and express it. There are some opportunities can be described like the investment and economic cooperation for the active regional powers. The geographical situation of Central Asia provides both opportunities and challenges for Iran. Another point which is regarding Iran in power equation in this area is that the region is not really limited by the presence of only one power, as we have Russia, china, Iran, Turkey and the other powers trying to maintain in the region.

When we talk about Iran’s role in Central Asia, considering the US is important. the US wants to release Iran’s influence in this era but the west want to increase Turkeys influence in the region because they see Turkey as a model which can support western influence in this region so this kind of behavior by western states shows why the Turkey’s situation is different from Iran’s. central Asia not determines the interactions, but the other transregional powers try to make the situation in terms of their influence. Iran’s common border with the Central Asian region is an important feature in comparison with Turkey. The direct connection with Central Asia has its own challenges for Iran in terms of security and disability in economy and in political terms.

About Turkey and Iran, this is very important that the two countries always had rivalry behavior in the history in Central Asia after the collapse of the Soviet Union. This land was always a space for struggling the powers but at first Turkey tries to use this opportunity and look at the situation as the opportunity because of the ethnic, cultural and linguistic linkage with these five Republics and as I mentioned before the supporting role of the western states are important here, makes the situation in favor of Turkey.

Iran tries to use this historical background of the common history with the region specially with Tajikistan but what is important here is we should look at to this region as the dynamic change because there were different stages of changes in this region, so we can divide the history of independence of 1991 which the situation was overshadow by new entities in the region, but after september11, the situation being securitized all over the region. Turkey’s diplomacy is very active in economic, cultural and educational scholarship for influencing there. Having indirect access to Central Asia without any border but enjoys the hospitability.

There are two factors about the influence of Turkey in the region: 1) the capacity inside the Turkey as it plays a great role with having lots of capacity 2)the chancing of the perspectives of the European countries after 2002 when the AK party came in power and their policy changes to become more independent from the western countries and maybe become rival in this region.

On the other hand, Iran changed its foreign policy from cultural to security and economic cooperation because of its capacity. Economic sanction by the US against Iran, made a negative view of Iran and put the pressure on these 5 states not to pass the pipeline to Iran. In the other hand in recent years, because of the good relations between Iran and Russia, Russia is agreed to Iran’s presence in this area against the unilateral and hegemonic stands of the US. This is an opportunity for Iran in this situation. The good relation between Iran and Russia impacts on the presence of Iran there.