The Turkish Key to Greater Central Asia

The countries of Central Asia, the Caucasus, Afghanistan and Western China can more usefully be thought of as Greater Central Asia. While constituting something of a black hole on the map of globalization, they are viewed by many strategists as increasingly important in terms of diminishing global resources. Additionally, they form a geopolitical wedge between the states the West considers the greatest threats to its values of individual rights and democracy: Russia and China. The state exercising the greatest degree of what might be called ‘organic power’ in the region is Turkey, which is perhaps once more becoming a global power in its own right. Turkey is currently a Western ally and has spent almost a century imitating Western organizational mores. However, it also has an overwhelmingly Muslim population and seems to be increasingly torn between those Western values and Islamic ones. Aside from these geopolitical and even ideological struggles, there are sound economic reasons for greater international cooperation in Greater Central Asia. Nevertheless, Turkey will remain the geopolitical key to the region; whether that key turns itself or is turned by others is very much open to question.

Authors: Richard Cashman