I'm... Central Asian
Iran has much more in common
with Afghans and Tajiks
August 19, 2004
In my opinion, Iran (as a nation) should declare
that it is not nor ever actually was part of the Middle East. Iran
is more accurately located in Central Asia.
The Middle East after all is for Arabs (and Israelis) - let
them duke it out to death. The Middle East ends eastwards at the
Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Then everything changes- language,
culture, calendar and history. The concept of Iran being in the
Middle East is a British invention - much like the term "Arabian
Gulf". It's just way off.
Iran has nothing to gain by participating in Middle East games
(politics, sports, and alliances) - in fact Iran has no interest
in either supporting the Israelis or the Arabs. Yet, constant
association with the Middle East harms Iran - being placed in the
same oversight department looking over Iraq, Egypt and Yemen (not
only in the U.S. State Department but also Coca-Cola... ).
Iranians are not Arabs. In fact, Iran has much more in common
with Afghans and Tajiks than Arabs. Afghans and Tajiks speak
farsi - Iran's lingua franca. And in fact, Iranians have much in
common with Turkmens and Uzbeks too. There is after all a very
large Turkmen minority in northern Iran; and Iranian Turks (ie.
Azaris) speak a very similar version of Turkish to Uzbeks and the
Azaris in Azarbaijan (which not long ago was actually part of Iran).
Also interestingly, Iranian traditions such as the Iranian solar
calendar and important days such as "No-Ruz" or the beginning
of spring are important celebrations in Central Asia. On the other
hand, Arabs follow a lunar, Islamic calendar.
"Ostan" depicts province or terrain in Farsi. Thus
connecting 'Stan' to these nations - such as Uzbekstan, or Tajikestan,
or Turkmanestan, or Kazakstan, or Afghanistan or Pakistan... automatically
provides a linkage.
Not only language, culture, calendars, anthropology - but also
history is another important connection. These areas after-all
until only a century or so ago where always connected as provinces
under different Iranian Rulers or as part of the Mongolian Empire.
My own great grandparents (from my father's side) were from
Georgia then part of Iran until Peter the Great campaigned for
My (Iranian) grandmother from my mother's side has Mongolian
features. And let's not forget that some of Iran's greatest poets
in Samarkand (now capital of Tajikestan).
Iran clearly has much more in common with Central Asian nations.
But now there are two very important reasons why we must make
formal political links: geographic and economic. Starting with
economic considerations, there are substantial untapped hydrocarbon
reserves in Central Asia. Iran, has enjoyed or suffered (depending
on your point of view) almost a century of substantial involvement
with Oil and Natural gas. Central Asian reserves have to be exported
to have any value. And these reserves can only be exported through
Afghanistan /Pakistan and/or Iran or both. This economic necessity
will by itself bring these nations together to design, build and
maintain pipelines and transfer hydrocarbons. Interestingly, it
would be better for everyone if Iran purchased and used exclusively
central Asian oil and natural gas in its heavily populated Northern
cities and then exported its own product (since its product is
produced near exportable ports) - as part of a transfer plan with
these Central Asian nations.
But also, importantly these nations surround the Caspian Sea;
and also plan to exploit reserves sitting below the Caspian. This
brings about not just a common geographic and economic interest
but also very importantly also an environmental interest. These
nations must sit together not as economic competitors but as partners
in dealing with the very difficult issues of exploiting Caspian
Sea reserves. The Caspian Sea must be protected while there is
drilling going on. It is a unique environment - with highly salty
water balance and important species that can only be found there.
The Caspian Sea actually is on the verge of destruction with many
species on the verge of extinction.
We therefore see that there is a large group of interests that
bring these nations together.
In a world, where nations are increasingly binding together to
form supra-national entities such as for example the European Union
or African Union. Also, with the break up of the Soviet Union along
with reduced Soviet influence, there is an opportunity for a more
'natural' linkage to form among the nations of the central Asian
region - based on common interests and the very natural linkages
between the people of these nations.
Yes, I am proposing the formation of a Central Asian Union. I
am proposing a Union of the "Stans". A new federal structure.
Providing a good neighbor to the very dominant nations of China,
Russia, and India. Here is some data worth considering on how such
a Union might look like:
Central Asian Union
- Combined GDP: $1,469 Bn+
- Combined Population: 350 Mn+
- Combined Land Area: 8,500 sq km+
- Linkages: Cultural, linguistic, religious and economic ... all
the way from Iran & Pakistan north to Turkey, Kazakhstan (including
Turkemanestan, Uzbekestan, Tajikestan, Azarbaejan).
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