Research on the emerging links between the Middle East (West Asia) and other parts of Asia has grown considerably since late twentieth century. Indeed, the contributions to this special edition of the journal reflect some of the pioneering work taking place on pan-Asian relations encompassing new analysis of the Middle East’s links with the ‘East’—Central, South, and East Asia. The research in this field, looking back into history as well as forward, has grown in response to the changing dynamics of intra-Asian relations following the end of the Cold War in 1990 and the collapse of the Soviet Union as a Eurasian land empire just a year later. The end of bipolarity encouraged new transnational relations and further regionalization of a new world order. As multi-polarity has steadily given way to a state of non-polarity, so the veil has also been lifted on the significant economic and political ties which have grown across strategic regions. In considering strategic regions, it is contended here that Asia is home to the most dynamic of these, in terms of asset accumulation, geopolitical weight, population size, and economic prowess. But it is also significant for the volatility which appears along the fault lines of historical animosity, national security tensions, modern-day rivalries, border and resources disputes, and the strengthening of communalism and divisive role of identity politics. Moreover, the collapse of the Soviet control of much of Central Asia opened up new spaces for exchange in Asia, much encouraged by the exploitation of hydrocarbon reserves of the Soviet successor states in Asia (also Azerbaijan in the Caucasus). But, pan-Asian ties predate the post-Cold War transformations of the global system, and several Asian powers were able to negotiate mutually beneficial links soon after the Second World War. Although evidence of ancient pan-Asian relations is to be found in the Silk Road, systemic shift in our time is clearly leading to a perceptible transfer of the global economic balance Eastwards, which has brought with it the rise of energy-hungry Asian economies in the twenty-first century. Asian demand for energy has changed the complexion of Middle East-Asia relations, and pan-Asian relations in this context are today a reflection of the changing contours of the global political economy.
Ehteshami, A. (2015). Regionalization, Pan-Asian Relations, and the Middle East. East Asia, 32(3), 223-237. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12140-015-9233-7