Oases And Geopolitics

Huacachina-übersichtImagine this. You’re on a voyage through the desert. Water has not been seen for days. Barren, dry land  abounds. Suddenly, a cluster of vegetation appears. No, this is not a mirage. It is for real. Where does that vegetation come from? It hardly ever rains?

An oasis is an isolated cluster of vegetation surrounding some source of water. Very often, it is a spring. It can be a small lake. What needs to take place is an underground water source coming to the surface, such as an aquifer.

In an arid environment like the desert, water is precious. People go where the water is. Physical geography determining human geography. In an oasis, agriculture is made much easier, thanks to the availability of water. Some cities in the Sahara region got their start BECAUSE of oases.

Oases have also played a major role in human history, particularly in geopolitics. Why? It is about resources. Geopolitical issues are frequently about resources, the allocation of resources, competition for those resources, trade routes,etc. An oasis town had a role in trade. Think of it like a filling station, with more people. Here is where geopolitics has played a role. Empires looking for more control over trade routes wanted control of the oases. Geopolitics is about how geography determines the way nations relate to one another. It is about studying foreign policy through the lens of geographic factories. In the instance of an oasis, a nation wants to bolster its trade. Resources are not what said nation would like. There is competition for a certain trade route.

Example Bukhara, Uzbekistan is a city that often doesn’t make headlines these days. However, during the days of the Silk Route, it was a highly sought after city. Bukhara was an oasis city. It has long been a major center of trade because it was an oasis city. It was like a filling station. You stopped there for supplies while going along a major trade route. Because of this, it was highly sought after. Before becoming part of the Soviet Union, it was part of the Persian Empire. Seleucid Empire, Greco-Bactrians, , Kushan Empire. It was also ruled by the Mongol Empire under Genghis Khan. This was an oasis city and it was highly sought after. Its local geography made it a stopping point along a major trade route. Want more control over resources and trade? You sought the oasis cities. In the deserts, they were the islands of prosperity in an otherwise arid land.

A nation’s foreign policy would be determined by the need to control a trade route. This would me trying to get control of a certain oasis city(or cities).

Geopolitics is determined by resources related to geography. The geopolitics surrounding an oasis city has often been about access to trade. Nations fighting for control of resources.

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