Iran-Turkmenistan Railway Could Shift Balance of Power in Central Asia

Iran-Turkmenistan Railway Could Shift Balance of Power in Central Asia
A cargo train is ready to cross an Iranian border in the Turkmen frontier village of Ak-Yayla, Dec. 3, 2014 (AP photo by Alexander Vershinin).

Earlier this month, the presidents of Iran, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan inaugurated a railway that runs from western Kazakhstan to northern Iran. In an email interview, Erica Johnson, lecturer and director of masters studies in global studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill discussed infrastructure projects in Central Asia.

WPR: What obstacles, both political and technological, had to be overcome to construct the railway between Iran and Turkmenistan?

Erica Johnson: Because of the 2008 global financial crisis, Kazakhstan put the railway project on hold for 18 months. In addition to financing from the three participating countries, the Asian Development Bank financed a section between Bereket and Buzhan in Turkmenistan and the Islamic Development Bank extended a loan in July 2010. The project was also implemented in a challenging geopolitical environment. The railroad offers Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan an alternative to Soviet-era rail lines that transit to Russia, thus weakening Russia’s economic influence in the Central Asian region. In addition, the U.S. and NATO military presence in Afghanistan both motivated the project and made implementation more sensitive to U.S. responses.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.