Around 1800, three great powers faced each other in Inner Asia: Britain, Russia, and the Manchu empire. The West referred to the latter as China, given that China since the seventeenth century formed the economically most important part of the Manchu empire. The Manchus were in decline, but they remained sufficiently strong to control the entire eastern half of Inner Asia: Muslim East Turkestan, Tibet, and Mongolia. Manchu armies had conquered East Turkestan as late as 1757, when they crushed the last great independent Mongolian dominion, consisting of the Oirat Mongol tribes of Altai, the Tien-shan region, and Ili, known as the Dzungar empire (Dzüngaar; “left hand,” meaning left or east wing, in this case of the Oirats).
Britain and Russia, however, were grojwing and vigorous empires. The rivalry between them resulted in a struggle for Inner Asia, which came to dominate regional politics during the entire nineteenth and – with partly new actors – the greater part of the twentieth century. The Great Game, the name under which the struggle became known, still continues. The American war in Afghanistan was only the latest development in the persistent struggle for territory and resources in Inner Asia.
Muslim Central Asia, i.e., what currently constitutes the Muslim former Soviet republics east of the Caspian, Afghanistan, and East Turkestan (Chinese Xinjiang), was only a part of a greater geographical area, Inner Asia, which additionally consisted of the Caucasus, parts of Persia, northern India, and Tibet. Despite differences in culture between these territories, the various components of Inner Asia always had at least as much interaction with each other as they had with the coastal regions of Asia…

reader-16x16Get Full text in PDF

Michael Fredholm © 2022 Frontier Theme