Was a unified Central Asian state ever a realistic possibility after 1850?

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
16,874
SoCal
#1
Was a unified Central Asian state ever a realistic possibility after 1850?

Basically, I'm thinking of a Central Asian version of Czechoslovakia or Yugoslavia here. Both Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia were multi-ethnic states that were united by the similarities of the ethnic groups that they ruled (Czechoslovakia was mostly composed of Czechs and Slovaks--two similar peoples--while Yugoslavia was meant to be a unified South Slav state). Since all Central Asians other than Tajiks are Turkic peoples, a unified Central Asian state can be viewed as a Pan-Turkic state without Turkey (and possibly without Azerbaijan as well, depending on whether or not it joins this unified Central Asian state).

The logic behind such a state would be similar to the logic behind both Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia--specifically that being a part of a larger country makes one more secure. Given the threat of Russia in the north, it would make sense for the various peoples of Central Asia to unite into one state--just like it made sense for Czechs and Slovaks to unite to face the threat from Hungary together and just like it made sense for Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes to unite to face the threat from Hungary and Italy together.

Anyway, is this realistic with a point of departure (from real life) of 1850 or later? Also, if so, how exactly does one make this a reality?

In addition, what is this unified Central Asian state going to look like? Also, is this state actually going to permanently last or is it eventually going to collapse and break up like both Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia did in real life?
 
Apr 2017
1,114
U.S.A.
#2
The only way this would happen is if Russia was especially weak or for some reason chose not to expand into central asia. If for some reason this happened, then in theory it would be possible one of the stronger central Asian state could expand to encompass much of this territory. This however, depends on your definition of central asia. Does it include Mongolia and Xinjiang? If so, this would mean conflict with China, an unlikely victory for Yugo-stan. Also what about Tartarstan and the Bashkirs of the Volga-ural region, would the be included? This would effectively throw Russia out of asia.
Historically there were several examples of this, mostly nomad confederations or Mongol states. Generally the central Asian Turkic peoples that were the most wealthy/powerful would be the Uzbeks and Kazaks (excluding the Mongols). Uzbekistan has many large city states in and around it, so it would probably be the nucleus of this theoretical state. If this Uzbek city-state alliance unified into a single state and expanded north and east, gaining british support against Russia, then maybe.
The Kalmyks were a powerful force into the 1700's, before being crushed by the Russians, you could work with that as well.
If this state did somehow exist, it would certainly collapse in the 20th century. Most of the central Asians are Turkic, but language and culturally they are very divergent (the Kazaks and Kyrgyz are somewhat similar). Azerbaijan would have no chance of remaining in this state. Geography alone would make it impractical. The Azeris are also Shiite and more similar to the turks. Interestingly there are international Turkic organizations; International Organization of Turkic Culture - Wikipedia and Turkic Council - Wikipedia
Turkey has been pushing in recent decades to establish closer ties between them all. Perhaps if the Ottoman Empire expanded into the collapsing Golden horde in the late 15th century or conquered Persia, this region could have been unified under Turkic rue.
 
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Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
16,874
SoCal
#3
The only way this would happen is if Russia was especially weak or for some reason chose not to expand into central asia. If for some reason this happened, then in theory it would be possible one of the stronger central Asian state could expand to encompass much of this territory.
Please keep in mind, though, that Russia could still expand into Central Asia and then be kicked out of there at some later point in time. Of course, I think that Britain is going to be the only country who is actually going to have the power projection to do this--and even then, very possibly only if it made an alliance with Germany (which actually isn't impossible if WWI is delayed long enough).

This however, depends on your definition of central asia. Does it include Mongolia and Xinjiang? If so, this would mean conflict with China, an unlikely victory for Yugo-stan. Also what about Tartarstan and the Bashkirs of the Volga-ural region, would the be included? This would effectively throw Russia out of asia.
This state could include Mongolia and Xinjiang, but it doesn't have to. Also, Mongolia wouldn't really fit in very well in this state since it wouldn't be composed of a Turkic people like most of the rest of this state would.

Historically there were several examples of this, mostly nomad confederations or Mongol states. Generally the central Asian Turkic peoples that were the most wealthy/powerful would be the Uzbeks and Kazaks (excluding the Mongols). Uzbekistan has many large city states in and around it, so it would probably be the nucleus of this theoretical state. If this Uzbek city-state alliance unified into a single state and expanded north and east, gaining british support against Russia, then maybe.
That's too late to do with a PoD of 1850 or later, no?

If so, you're probably going to need to aim for an Anglo-German alliance being created and decisively defeating Russia in an alt-WWI.

The Kalmyks were a powerful force into the 1700's, before being crushed by the Russians, you could work with that as well.
Too early, though.

If this state did somehow exist, it would certainly collapse in the 20th century. Most of the central Asians are Turkic, but language and culturally they are very divergent (the Kazaks and Kyrgyz are somewhat similar). Azerbaijan would have no chance of remaining in this state. Geography alone would make it impractical.
There could be a land connection between Azberbaijan and the rest of this state through northern Persia/Iran, though.

The Azeris are also Shiite and more similar to the turks. Interestingly there are international Turkic organizations; International Organization of Turkic Culture - Wikipedia and Turkic Council - Wikipedia
What exactly makes Azeris closer to Turks than to Central Asians? After all, both Turks and Central Asians are mostly Sunni Muslims.

Turkey has been pushing in recent decades to establish closer ties between them all. Perhaps if the Ottoman Empire expanded into the collapsing Golden horde in the late 15th century or conquered Persia, this region could have been unified under Turkic rue.
That would have been way too early for this, though.
 
Apr 2017
1,114
U.S.A.
#4
The Azeri language is similar to Turkish, as they are descended from the same Turkic ancestors. The Turkmens are also related but the geography is to distant. Northern Iran is rough terrain and inhabited by Iranian peoples, this is too narrow of a connection to maintain for this central Asian state. It would be like Yugoslavia trying to rule Czechoslovakia through a narrow land corridor between Austria and Hungary. Azerbaijan not being ruled by Russia would more likely be gobbled up by Persia (as Russia acquired it from Persia) than be independent. Of note during the Russian revolution the Caucasus region was up for grabs by the germans, ottomans and british; along with independence movements of their own. During the Crimean war Britain considered aiding the Circassian rebels in the Caucasus but never got around to it. If they did it could have led to Britain aiding Central Asian states resist Russia.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
16,874
SoCal
#5
The Azeri language is similar to Turkish, as they are descended from the same Turkic ancestors. The Turkmens are also related but the geography is to distant.
Don't all Central Asians other than the Tajiks also speak Turkic languages, though?

Northern Iran is rough terrain and inhabited by Iranian peoples, this is too narrow of a connection to maintain for this central Asian state.
I thought that Azeris lived in northern Iran?

It would be like Yugoslavia trying to rule Czechoslovakia through a narrow land corridor between Austria and Hungary.
OK.

Azerbaijan not being ruled by Russia would more likely be gobbled up by Persia (as Russia acquired it from Persia) than be independent.
I'm not sure that there would be much appetite for Azeris to be ruled by Persia again, though.

Of note during the Russian revolution the Caucasus region was up for grabs by the germans, ottomans and british; along with independence movements of their own. During the Crimean war Britain considered aiding the Circassian rebels in the Caucasus but never got around to it.
Why not?

If they did it could have led to Britain aiding Central Asian states resist Russia.
Aiding both the Circassians and the Central Asians would have been an awful lot of work and money for Britain, no?
 
Apr 2017
1,114
U.S.A.
#6
The Turkic language group is as diverse as the Indo-european family. A Turk trying to talk to a Kazak would be like a Frenchman trying to talk to a Russian, the differences are too great.
The Azeris of Iran live in the northwest, below the Caucasus and west of the Caspian sea. The southern shore of the Caspian sea separates them from central asia.
Persia of the late 19th century was like most other states, eager to grab as much territory as possible. An independent Azerbaijan or small Caucasus state would fall prey to them or Russia.
The British didn't get around to it basically because they had a poor understanding of the region. The one diplomat that did I think died or something (I read it in an article but that was some time ago) and the British government lost interest with the end of the Crimean war.
I meant if they first created an independent Circassia, then later they would expand to support the remaining independent states in central asia.
 
Jul 2014
1,533
world
#7
Was a unified Central Asian state ever a realistic possibility after 1850?

Basically, I'm thinking of a Central Asian version of Czechoslovakia or Yugoslavia here. Both Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia were multi-ethnic states that were united by the similarities of the ethnic groups that they ruled (Czechoslovakia was mostly composed of Czechs and Slovaks--two similar peoples--while Yugoslavia was meant to be a unified South Slav state). Since all Central Asians other than Tajiks are Turkic peoples, a unified Central Asian state can be viewed as a Pan-Turkic state without Turkey (and possibly without Azerbaijan as well, depending on whether or not it joins this unified Central Asian state).

The logic behind such a state would be similar to the logic behind both Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia--specifically that being a part of a larger country makes one more secure. Given the threat of Russia in the north, it would make sense for the various peoples of Central Asia to unite into one state--just like it made sense for Czechs and Slovaks to unite to face the threat from Hungary together and just like it made sense for Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes to unite to face the threat from Hungary and Italy together.

Anyway, is this realistic with a point of departure (from real life) of 1850 or later? Also, if so, how exactly does one make this a reality?

In addition, what is this unified Central Asian state going to look like? Also, is this state actually going to permanently last or is it eventually going to collapse and break up like both Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia did in real life?

Nogays hate Kalmyk who hates the Kazakhs who hate the mongols who hate the Manchus. And we have Uzbeks and kyzghiz who are like India and Pakistan. So no .... without a chinghiz khan like character it is not possible.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
16,874
SoCal
#8
Nogays hate Kalmyk who hates the Kazakhs who hate the mongols who hate the Manchus. And we have Uzbeks and kyzghiz who are like India and Pakistan. So no .... without a chinghiz khan like character it is not possible.
Serbs, Bosniaks, and Croats also hated each other and yet they were part of a common state for seventy years, though.
 

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