The Struggle for Power in the Changing Geopolitics of Central Asia/ Orta Asya'nin Degisen Jeopolitik Kosullarinda Guc Mucadelesi

By Bozkurt, Giray Saynur | Civilacademy Journal of Social Sciences, Spring 2008 | Go to article overview

The Struggle for Power in the Changing Geopolitics of Central Asia/ Orta Asya'nin Degisen Jeopolitik Kosullarinda Guc Mucadelesi


Bozkurt, Giray Saynur, Civilacademy Journal of Social Sciences


Introduction

Eurasia, primarily Central Asia has been the scene of the great powers' struggles throughout history. As a result of these struggles, the geography of Central Asia nowadays has become complicated and inconsistent to a great extent. The factors which caused this in Central Asia have become tools to be used against rivaling forces that are competing to become the dominant power in the region. Turkic Republics that gained their independence with the dissolution of Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), have encountered economical and security problems after 1990, related to the politics applied by USSR historically, in order to maintain dominance over the region.

Whether for geopolitical or geo-strategic reasons, Central Asia is seen as an important geography in world politics. This is especially true after the disintegration of USSR. And the power struggle continues today in the region. With the disintegration of USSR, new independent states emerged in the region. As a result of this, an unexpected rapid change has been experienced in the geopolitical structure of Central Asia's geography. In this new geopolitical constitution, many power gaps have emerged. Undoubtedly, a merciless rivalry has started between the powers which aim to gain dominance over the region by filling these power gaps. This rivalry in the region is nothing new. From the beginning of the second half of 19th century, the new colonialism has enlivened the rivalry among the great powers. It is well understood that in the 19th century, especially in Central Asia, English and Russian rivalry was a matter of primary importance. (M. Edwards (2003), "The New Great Game and the new great gamers: Disciples of Kipling and Mackinder", Central Asian Survey, 22(1):84) English- Russian struggle in Central Asia was known as the "Great Game". The term "Great Game" was first used in 1830's by Arthur Conol (1807-1842). (P. Hopkirk, 1994; K. Meyer and S. Brysac, 2001). But the "Great Game" term was not a well known and used expression until Rudyard Kipling wrote his novel "Kim", in the first year of 20th century. (Rudyard Kipling's novel (2006): Kim read online October 28th http://www.readbookonline.net/read/206/6601/, 2006).

The nature of the Great Game is a fight to gain dominance over the land in Central Asia and the population living there. The Great Game has been realized in four phases in four different ways. First it started in 18th and 19th centuries with the spread of Russian Empire to Caucasia and Central Asia. This situation became a threat for Eastern Indian Company, which was de facto dominant force in India and thus the "Great Game" started. The English-Russian rivalry continued mercilessly until 1907. The first phase of the Great Game ended with the signing of the Anglo-Russian Convention in 1907.

The policy Drang nach Osten (Head toward East) of Wilhelm's Germany created the second phase of the Great Game. The methods used in this policy generally were to hold the public under pressure and manipulate them by placing secret agents among the local tribes and local folk in order to gain dominance in the region as in the Russian-English fight. (M. Edwards; 2003:2).

The third phase of the Great Game started with the Bolshevik Revolution under Lenin's leadership in 1917. In this revolution, which Lenin implemented with an armed rebellion, "saving Asia from the imperialists' dominance" was announced as the primary goal. Of course, USSR founded by Lenin was included the area that the Russia of Tsardom had sovereignty over and even more.

The fourth phase of the Great Game is named "The New Great Game". The New Great Game is being played among the forces which maneuver to gain influence, power and benefit in Central Asia and Trans-Caucasia. This New Game developed between the years 1990-2000 by the opportunities created by the power gaps emerging with the dissolution of USSR.

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