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The astropolitics of Iranian-Turkish competition in Central Asia

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (left) with President Hassan Rouhani of Iran. Photograph courtesy of Press TV and IRNA.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (left) with President Hassan Rouhani of Iran. Photograph courtesy of Press TV and IRNA.

As both Iran and Turkey look to Central Asia to enhance their diplomatic and economic prospects and standings, space cooperation will become a more important and useful tool for gaining relative geopolitical advantage in the region for both countries. Who is better able to exploit the opportunities for space cooperation in Central Asia will matter for other space powers in the Middle East, argues ThorGroup’s Chairman and President Dr. John B. Sheldon.

Space power is emerging as an important diplomatic, economic, and military tool for all countries able to exploit the space domain. The geopolitical consequences and implications of using space power, astropolitics, provide opportunities for countries to exert influence, prestige, and power via space over vast geographical areas.

In a time of great geopolitical flux around the world, the geopolitical shifts in the Middle East and Central Asia are among the most consequential and the prospect of geopolitical competition in what the British geopolitical theorist, Sir Halford Mackinder, called the Eurasian Heartland has reemerged. Countries such as Russia and China are without doubt the most significant players in Central Asia and the Eurasian Heartland, but Iran and Turkey are also emerging as potentially important players in the region with important consequences for Middle East space and geopolitics.

The previous geopolitical context in Central Asia

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990’s there was much speculation that both Turkey and Iran would compete vigorously for influence in the former Soviet republics and other countries in Central Asia – Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

 

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