THE ROLE OF ENERGY IN IRAN-TURKMENISTAN RELATIONS
Mukhtar Ahmad BHAT
Mukhtar Ahmad Bhat, Ph.D. (Political Science), Aligarh Muslim University (Aligarh, India)
The emergence of independent countries in Central Asia in the wake of the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991 marked the beginning of a new chapter and a turning point in Iran-Turkmenistan relationships. The Islamic Republic of Iran perceived cooperation with independent Turkmenistan as an opportunity to play an influential role not only in the newly emerged Central Asian regional political structure, but also at the international level, as an important corridor for supplying energy to other countries. Turkmenistan is among the countries with huge energy resources, but no direct access to outside markets except through Russia. Therefore, Iran can play an important role for Turkmenistan in diversifying its energy exports, which is crucial for Turkmenistan in order to reduce its dependence on the Russian market. Thus, the main focus of this paper is the energy-related cooperation between the two countries, which may play a significant role not only in developing a close relationship between Iran and Turkmenistan, but also in opening up a new chapter in their mutual cooperation. In addition, Iran has great geostrategic significance, since in the south it borders the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf—the biggest energy exporting center in the world. In the north, it borders the Caspian Sea, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan. In the east, it shares borders Afghanistan and Pakistan. In the northwest, Iran borders Iraq and Turkey. Thus, Iran’s geographical location has catapulted it to a significant role in regional connectivity, particularly after the situation exacerbated following the United States’ armed intervention in 2001 in Afghanistan and in 2003 in Iraq, which increased instability in the region. Therefore, Iran is currently the most stable and suitable country for the Central Asian nations to rely on for connecting their economies with the other countries of the world.
Keywords: energy sector, electrical power generation sector, transit routes.