Universiteit Leiden

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PhD project

The Development of the Pivot State Concept Based on Mackinder’s Heartland Theory

The research addresses the question of “what is the impact of geopolitical changes to the pivot states in the Middle East? With special focus on Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia.”

Duration
2017  -   2021
Contact
Kemal Akyel

The term pivot was first formulated by Mackinder in his eminent study titled as “The Geographical Pivot of History" in 1904 (Mackinder, 1904). He argued that for reasons of states locations, all states regarding their potential rotate round the pivot state. In his study, the term pivot stands for a region rather than a state which was occupied by Russia at that time.

Since the pivot was first used by Mackinder it has been improved to the concept of the pivot state so far. The pivot state is defined as having “military, economic or ideational strategic assets that are coveted by great powers place”. They are caught at the middle of great powers spheres of interest and leverage their assets to have relations with multiple great powers (sometimes set one great power against to another) to preserve their interests. Any shift in their engagements has significant security consequences.

Last two decades global order has dramatically changed. It is observed that US-led monopoly shifted to a new phase where multi powers’ spheres of interests collided and US power is waning. Particularly, Russian Georgia conflict in 2008, Ukraine Crisis in 2014 and annexation of Crimea and aggression of China in the South and East China Sea (SCS), led to the idea that classical geopolitical considerations returned to the global affairs which paved the way to Russia and China to be labeled as revisionist powers as well. Besides, Iran leveraged its ideational thought utilizing proxies across the Middle East to dominate the region.

Technological developments, particularly in communication and transportation, has increased the mobility of relations and its volatility to a level that hasn’t been ever tested. This intense flow of associations has fueled uncertainty of global order, such that no alliance is guaranteed to a certain extent anymore. Therefore the pivoting of the states one great power to another contains security risks as well.

As geopolitics adapts itself in living organism principal, today importance of the pivot states has amplified more than ever in the international system. In this regard, the research addresses the question of “what is the impact of geopolitical changes to the pivot states in the Middle East? With special focus on Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia.” Besides, the project examines the increasing importance of pivot states’ role in global order.

Primary Supervisor: Prof. dr. Rob de Wijk
Co-Supervisor : Prof.dr. A. Kutsal Yesilkagit

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