The New Great Game (NGG) is synonymous with the politics of influence, power projection and strategic advantage in the crucial Central and South Western Asian regions. Being an area rich in energy and minerals it is also an area where five civilizations meet, creating a complex mix of interests. In recent times it is also seen to be associated with the Caucasus region. A takeoff from the original Great Game of the 19-20th centuries, the current NGG focuses on the politics of energy, transportation infrastructure, pipelines and ideology.
China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR), of which the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a crucial arm, Russia’s North-South Corridor, the proposed Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline, and the recent India-Iran-Afghanistan trilateral agreement on Chahbahar port and construction of infrastructure links, all these are a manifestation of the intense competition. The recent entry of Iran into the geopolitics of the region creates further complications. Being a region where five great civilizations meet, the crosscurrents of respective national interests, cultural linkages and most importantly ideology play a major role. A virtual alliance between China and Pakistan, Russia’s deep interests in the security of its near-abroad region, the India-Pakistan-Afghanistan dynamics, the interests in Afghanistan of outside powers such as the US, and Saudi Arabia’s aim to check Iran’s influence make the region a cauldron of tension.
How will the NGG pan out and who will be the key players as it progresses? Will China achieve its intention of westward expansion of influence to build continental linkages with Europe, Africa and the Middle East? Will India counter the Pakistan-China nexus to deny it influence in Afghanistan through its Chahbahar linkage? How much will CPEC assist Pakistan in emerging from the economic low it has sunk to? Finally, what role will radical Islam play in the region even as ideology becomes a key issue all over the world? Crucial questions to mull over as we crystal gaze into a region which may well be the core strategic center of the world even as ‘rebalancing’ by the US commences in earnest.