How the steadily deepening Turkish-Iranian entente cordiale impacts the New Middle East should be of interest to India. Aren’t our discourses largely oblivious of such a template? Actually, the Savafid-Ottoman rivalry was the dominating theme in the Middle East’s a priori history. Today, Turkey and Iran are Middle East’s biggest economies, largest middle classes and most educated populations with a huge reservoir of soft and hard power. Economist magazine says that by 2015, Iran’s GDP will double. In terms of their purchasing power parity [PPP], Turkey and Iran already hold 15th and 18th spots in world ranking. The US National Intelligence Council report Global Trends 2025 assesses that both Turkey and Iran stand to benefit also in terms of their demographic transition and the two countries will be “well-suited for growing international roles.” Both have impressive human development indices already in areas such as education, health and per capita income.
The Foreign Policy In Focus carries a fascinating essay on the Turkish-Iranian tandem in the recent years, the background to its blossoming and its profound implications for the politics of the Middle East. These two powers have become indispensable for any enduring project for regional security in the Middle East. Interestingly, Washington may already have begun tapping into the Turkish-Iranian cooperation and is appreciative of Ankara’s role as a “valuable communicator” with respect to Tehran. “The future of the [Middle East] region will increasingly depend on the interplay of Turkish, Iranian and US foreign policy decisions.” Elsewhere, the essay makes a stunning observation: “Although the emergence of a US-Iran-Turkey power triangle seems bizarre, if not impossible, independent centres of power have finally emerged in the region - changing the rules of the game.”
By the way, the essay makes some incisive observations on the politics of energy in the Turkish-Iranian equations. Turkey has an import dependency of 93 percent in oil and 95 percent in natural gas. Equally, it has a serious diversification problem insofar as it has an unhealthy dependence on a single source - Russia. Therefore, both as an energy exporter and as a transit country for central asian (eg. Turkmen) and Persian Gulf (eg, Qatar) energy, Iran is of great interest to Turkey. From the Iranian viewpoint, Turkey is a vital energy hub that can connect it with the european market. So, Turks have begun investing in the Iranian oil and gas fields in a big way, on par with China. Turkey recently announced a new 1.3 billion dollar pipeline to connect Iran with the european market. Quite a bit here for the Indian policy makers to ponder over.
Posted in Politics.
– March 1, 2011