عنوان مقاله [English]
Due to the unbalanced distribution of resources as well as unique political geography in the age of globalization based on international political economy, the global geopolitical systems alone are not able to meet their needs in various structural and functional areas to meet their interests and shortcomings to each other. They are interdependent. Among them are geopolitical capacities for cooperation and interaction to achieve common interests between neighbor-centered political actors, energy geopolitics (energy sources and energy transit corridors), and positive hydro-politics (cooperation in common water basins). On the one hand, the increasing population growth and in line with it, the scarcity and unequal distribution of water resources, has increased competition for water resources, especially shared water resources in the border areas between the countries. Under these conditions, border rivers can provide the basis for cooperation between neighboring states based on the principles of diplomacy and understanding of geographical realities. On the other, the existence of energy resources and transit corridors, specifically in this respect, choosing the optimal way to reduce geopolitical dependence, can pave the way for cooperation between the countries. As a regional power in Southwest Asia, Iran has numerous neighbors and long borders, including land, sea, and river, with different political approaches; Iran’s long borders and its numerous neighbors offer a range of opportunities and threats. One of the sources of threat and opportunity in relation to Iran’s neighbors is hydro-political issues in border rivers and the role of Iran’s position in energy transfer. Cooperation on water issues based on water diplomacy and the hydro-structuring approach can pave the way for cooperation in other geopolitical dimensions, including energy geopolitics. Therefore, Iran, with its wide border rivers, needs to establish cooperation based on the principles of diplomacy and formulate strategies to generate opportunities in the surrounding environment to enhance its regional power. Turkmenistan is one of the influential countries in the periphery of Iran with long borders and common water resources in northeastern Iran.
Central Asia in general and Turkmenistan, in particular, are among droughty countries and this situation has led to a divergence in Central Asian countries. Meanwhile, Turkmenistan, as a downstream state is in dire need of water resources on its borders, including on its border with Iran, for its sustainable development of agriculture and industry. On the other hand, given that cooperation with Turkmenistan is part of Iran’s geopolitical interests, so ties based on common geopolitical factors with this country can have profound effects on enhancing Iran’s power on the Central Asian geopolitical scene. Turkmenistan is Iran’s gateway to the Central Asian region to establish relations with the countries of this geostrategic region. One of Turkmenistan’s challenges is how to transfer its energy resources to the world markets. The country is landlocked and has no access to the high seas, so its political future and independence depend on choosing optimal routes to transfer energy resources to consumer markets. On the other hand, Iran’s geography connects different regions and considering that Iran connects the two water zones of the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf, this country has a great capacity to create a corridor in the transfer of energy resources.
Accordingly, the present article seeks to find a suitable answer to this question of what effect the two factors namely water resources and energy transfer have on relations between Iran and Turkmenistan by using a qualitative method and library resources. It has been hypothesized that “the most favorable practical context for the promotion of Iran-Turkmenistan relations lies in the two areas of hydro-politics and geopolitics of energy because the two countries are complementary to each other in these areas”. But the situation of Iran in the international system with the West has shown that despite the existence of favorable grounds based on common geopolitical factors, these relations have not formed fully yet.
According to the findings of the article, Turkmenistan needs water supplying cooperations in border rivers, including joint rivers with Iran, to create sustainable development in the field of agriculture and industrial growth. Given the growing importance of water resources, water diplomacy between the two countries and the allocation of more water by Iran to Turkmenistan, as well as the establishment of joint water projects in the border areas, this can pave the ground for cooperation in other fields. Turkmenistan is also one of the richest countries in the field of gas resources. Iran can turn Turkmenistan’s vast gas reserves into one of its energy supplying hubs in the future. What limits Turkmenistan’s energy policy face is its landlocked location and lack of access to international waters; therefore, one of the main goals of Turkmenistan is to get out of geographical isolation and diversify its energy transmission routes to reach global markets and reduce dependence on Russia. According to the findings of this article, one of the countries in the periphery of Turkmenistan that can reduce its structural shortcomings is Iran. Iran has a unique geopolitical position and with its long sea borders, it connects several geo-economic regions of the world. On the other hand, Iran, as a regional power, needs to build constructive relations with its neighbors in foreign policy and Turkmenistan can be a link in establishing relations with the geopolitical region of Central Asia. What has limited the good neighborly relations between the two countries despite unique structural and functional capacities is the situation of Iran in the international system, but the international system is dynamic, and in the future, Iran will be at the focus of regional cooperations.