Now, have the massive, multi-ethnic superpowers of the modern world really reached their breaking point? The answer’s a big, emphatic no. While there’s certainly no shortage of secessionist claims in Russia, China, and the surrounding geopolitical region they dabble in, it’s unlikely we’ll see any new (internationally recognized) countries emerge from the Caucuses or Central Asia. A major precedent — any one secessionist success story — could set off new fervor in any number of independence-minded areas that could radically undermine the neighborhood superpowers’ international standing.
South and East Asia have become the world’s major oil consumers, but they lack the supply. Energy security thus lies at the heart of Asia’s economic transformation, prosperity and development. Jean-Pierre Lehmann and Suddha Chakravartti explain how China, India and their smaller neighboring economies are scrambling to find ways to secure and deliver enough oil from suppliers to consumers. The vastness and heterogeneity of Asia contrast with the relative compactness and homogeneity of Europe. Nevertheless, Asia does exist as a geopolitical, geo-economic and analytical entity.
The term “the Great Game” referred to the strategic rivalry between the British and Russian empires in Central Asia. Today’s Great Game is the battle for economic survival in a world of low economic growth. In such a world economic nationalism reasserts itself, reducing free trade in goods and services and free movement of capital. Escalating sovereign debt and banking sector problems will favour European introspection. Individual European economies are modest in size relative to the US.
The much-publicised agreement to speed work on developing a 2,000-km trade corridor linking Gwadar Port on Pakistan’s Makran Coast to Kashgar in China’s Xingjian province has been called a “game changer” by Sharif. While credit must be given to the Pakistan premier for his plans to speed up this ambitious project — perceived as pivotal to the country’s economic prosperity — there are several underlying factors, especially security and political differences within Balochistan, that will have to be incorporated in policy formulation for the corridor’s implementation.
The United States and the United Kingdom are trying to thwart the existence of CSTO, developing their relations with the countries of Central Asia and Armenia. In addition, political intentions are referred to that any support to CSTO would boost the influence of Russia on the post-Soviet states, including the support of totalitarian and not so very democratic regimes. However, neither the United States, nor the United Kingdom is trying to boost pressure on any of these states with a view to destroying CSTO. This policy is linked not only to reluctance to boost confrontation but also the understanding of localization and regional restrictions of this bloc which does threaten the West and NATO.
Aynak is a copper resource in Afghanistan’s Logar province, located southeast of Kabul. One of the largest copper deposits in the world, Aynak copper is trumpeted as a future bedrock of Afghanistan’s new economy. Aynak requires $2-3 billion to develop the mine and another $2-3 billion to build ancillary infrastructure. The benefits of such an investment are significant. According to the World Bank, a low-range estimate for Aynak is 4,500 direct, 7,600 indirect, and 62,500 induced jobs and $250 million annually for 250,000 tons of copper per year.
Kazakhstan has launched a new transit railway linking China to Europe, aiming to beat rival routes for journey time in the competition to handle a growing flow of goods along the ancient Silk Road trade route.
“Kazakhstan is a virtual bridge linking the East and the West,” Yerkin Meirbekov, deputy railway department chief at Kazakhstan’s Transport Ministry, said in an interview. “You can actually say this is the revival of the Silk Road.”Centuries ago, it would take months for caravans of camels and horses from China to reach Europe across the sun-scorched steppes and deserts of Central Asia to exchange silk for medicines, perfumes and precious stones.
Damascus is the “Stalingrad” of Russian diplomacy. After years of geopolitical withdrawal, Moscow has chosen Syria as a way to revive its image of power in the world. “Not one step back” is the Kremlin’s new strategy, as it was for the Red Army along the banks of the Volga river during World War II.
The Libyan wound is still bleeding. Despite its economic interests in Libya, Moscow was not even invited to take part in the postwar negotiations. The same thing occurred in 1999, when the Kremlin did not oppose the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia.
NATO is concerned by the situation on the Georgia-South Ossetia border, where Russian forces put up wire fences along the border last week, NATO’s envoy for the South Caucasus and Central Asia said Monday.
Georgia protested last Monday over the setting up of a barbed wire fence by Russian border forces along its border with the disputed region of South Ossetia. The building of illegal dividing structures is a violation of existing agreements and impedes the free movement of people, NATO envoy James Appathurai said.
For almost 100 years, the countries of Central Asia were kept out of the arena of world politics as they were part of the former Soviet Union. After the disintegration of the Soviet Union, they became independent nations: Uzbekistan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan. These countries have become the focus of the economic superpowers because of their strategic location between the East and the West and their wealth as a result of large reserves of oil and natural gas which have been discovered in large quantities under the Caspian Sea.
Eurasian specialist Paul Goble warns that the politically volatile situation of the Central Asia’s nine exclaves is “heating up”. He attributes it to the recent political actions of the regional governments, people within the enclaves, and the Russian government. If this trend continues, there is a “risk that one or more of them will become a “Central Asian ‘Karabakh’”. Some regional analysts suspect regional governments may have an interest in intensifying ethnic tensions for their own political purposes.
A conversation on Afghanistan has already begun, not least because China has bought the rights to mine copper ore in Mes Aynak in northern Afghanistan as well as gold and oil deposits elsewhere. For the time being, at least, the Chinese have quietly resisted a public role in the post-2014 scenario, in deference to the lead role its all-weather friend and partner Pakistan hopes to play in Afghanistan once the Americans leave. China is also happy to watch its chief rival, the US, lick its wounds as it withdraws battered.
As the United States is drawing up plans to reduce and revamp its military presence in Central Asia and while Russia answers increasingly desperate calls for help in the region on military matters, France announced that it is beginning to dismantle its 11 year old military air presence in Tajikistan.
The force of about 230 service members, which is assigned to operational transportation is now in the process of leaving the country, but a small force of specialists will remain in Dushanbe until some time next year when they finish upgrading the runway at the Dushanbe Airport.
Analyzing Beijing’s foreign policy is a relatively simple exercise. That’s because, unlike the United States and other Western nations, China doesn’t even pretend to operate on any other principle except naked self-interest. On one hand, China has courted Israel as a partner in developing Mediterranean gas fields — but it also has been happy to do business with Israel’s arch-enemy, Iran, and has sold weapons that ended up in Hezbollah’s arsenal. In South Asia, meanwhile, China has cynically helped Pakistan check India’s regional role, even as China’s state-controlled press has warned Pakistan that Beijing may “intervene militarily” in South Asia if Pakistani-origin jihadis continue to infiltrate Muslim areas of Western China.
Not much time is left until 2014, when the withdrawal of NATO anti-terrorism coalition troops from Afghanistan is expected to take place; however, it still remains unknown what type of military contingent will remain in Afghanistan and Central Asia thereafter and which countries of the region will be selected by the West for this purpose.
The fact that military contingents will remain not only in Afghanistan but also in the region is doubtless and is openly stated by officials. On Tuesday, the U.S. Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia Robert Blake said the fact of the coalition’s presence in Central Asia is unequivocal, adding that it is still not decided on what other transit points and bases will be maintained in the region.
History is being written in the East. As the U.S. stays distracted with stone age warriors in Central Asia and the Middle East, the last platform of the American economic foundation, the U.S. Dollar’s currency reserve status, is being underminded by their trade partners in Asia. Both Australia and Japan are set to start direct-trading in Chinese currency and they are not the only ones. There are almost 20 countries whom have currency swaps in place with China all in order to side-step the U.S. Dollar in global trade.
Raw materials and energy reserves in Central Asia make the region of particular interest to both China and Russia. The two countries share interests in region but are also each others biggest competitors.
The countries enjoy what experts have often called a strategic partnership, but that does not mean relations are without problems. The energy sector often crops up as a bone of contention between the nations as both look to increase their power and influence in Central Asia.
China is financing the construction of Kyrgyzstan’s first major oil refinery, and excitement is building in Bishkek that the facility could enable the Central Asian nation to break Russia’s fuel-supply monopoly. At the same time, some observers express concern that the project may stoke local resentment, or become enmeshed in political infighting. The refinery in Kara-Balta, about two hours west of Bishkek, is expected to produce 600,000 tonnes of fuel annually, enough to end Kyrgyzstan’s dependency on Russian imports.
Will armies battle each other, as the cry for “blue gold” gets furious? Will “water wars” be as prevalent as conflict for the “black gold” of oil? Two documentary films have wetted public interest – Blue Gold: World Water Wars, and Last Call at the Oasis, and a dystopia novel – The Water Wars – warns of its imminence.
In actuality, history’s pages are already splashed with dozens of conflicts. In 2,450 B.C. the Sumerian cities of Lagash and Umma warred over Tigris-Euphrates water. More recently, Senegal and Mauritaniabattled in 1989 over grazing rights in the Senegal River Valley – hundreds were killed, 250,000 fled their homes. The Pacific Institute provides an excellent map and timeline of 225 water skirmishes.
“Since the first Gulf War of the 1990′s US security policy has been one described as the “Lily-Pad” policy of keeping small military presence in very large numbers of places around the world, but no large military bases in any particular area. The land based Lily-Pads are complemented by the US navy on the high Seas. Yes, US already has many small military contingents in Central Asia and may add to them, but will not ask for establishing long-term military bases in the region including in Afghanistan.
The worst-case scenario is a world war between the West — NATO, U.S., EU with Japan-Taiwan-South Korea — and the East—the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) with Russia, China, Central Asia as members and India, Pakistan, Iran as observers. With four nuclear powers on each side, and West versus Islam as a major issue. In the centre is the explosive mix of a divided territory (Israel-Palestine) and Jerusalem, a capital divided by a wall.
United States Senator Richard Lugar has urged the Obama administration to break Russia’s energy monopoly in Europe and called on congress to lift limitations on deliveries of liquefied natural gas (LNG) deliveries to North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies in Europe.
His critical report, “Energy and Security from the Caspian to Europe”, and the proposed LNG for NATO Act came days after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the construction of the South Stream natural gas pipeline in the Russian Black Sea town of Anapa. Senator Lugar urged the US administration to do more for European energy security by supporting the Southern Corridor from Central Asia and the Caucasus to Europe.
In 2012, all five Central Asian republics managed to avoid major crises and political cataclysms.
As 2011 drew to a close, experts inside and outside the region predicted threats to regime security associated with the spread of the Arab Spring, the rise of Islamic radicalism and leadership change — particularly in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan where the incumbent presidents are well into their seventies. None of these fears materialised.
A close adviser to the Russian president said the Kremlin was paying close attention to “events” in former republics of the Soviet Union. Nikolai Patrushev, the head of the Security Council of Russia, said the Kremlin is keeping a close eye on potential “color revolutions” in former republics. “Events are in motion in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Ukraine; we’re dealing with it every day. Are these (events) a danger for us? Yes,” he was quoted by state-run news agency RIA Novosti as saying.
The competition for Caspian gas supplies is usually seen as a contest between Europe and Russia. China, although acknowledged to play a role, is generally seen to be a marginal player. But at a recent Chatham House event titled Rebalancing the World Energy Markets: The Role of China, Russia and Central Asia it was underscored that Chinese energy demand will have a profound effect on energy markets: in Russia, Central Asia, and Europe. Central Asia is also a vital part of the equation, with one speaker calling it “the fulcrum point” in Russia-China relations.
THE ex-Soviet states of Central Asia are engaged in an increasingly bitter standoff over water resources, adding another element of instability to the volatile region neighbouring Afghanistan.
Plans in mountainous but energy-poor Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan for two of the world’s biggest hydro-electric power stations have enraged their powerful downstream neighbour Uzbekistan which fears losing valuable water. Russia as well as the other Central Asian states of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan are also being pulled into a dispute which dates back to the allocation of resources when the Soviet Union broke up in 1991.
Russia will hold the talks on the establishment of the CSTO military base to strengthen its position in the south of Kyrgyzstan. The purpose of establishing the base is not only to implement its military ambitions, but also prevent the creation of a radical Islamic Fergana caliphate. Also needed is control over a reliable highway, which will bypass the territory of Uzbekistan, for the 201st military base’s material and technical supply chain from South Siberia in Tajikistan and of course, to prevent the expansion of China’s military and political capabilities in the region.
The Caspian Sea region is an often-overlooked one, compared to the Middle East, when assessing the antagonisms of world powers. However, this hinterland of Eurasia is of great importance for a whole range of issues.
The Caspian Sea dominates on a geo-economic level Central Asia, Caucasus, Southern Russia and the upper part of the Middle East. More than 10 billion tons of oil reserves are to be found there along with trillions of cubic meters of natural gas, most of them still unexplored or underdeveloped.
Armenia’s interest needs large-scale and deep relations with NATO with new proposals because they contain new prospects of new quality and modernization of strategic and economic security of Armenia.
This is the fundamental issue for Armenia because even with the optimal demographic pattern Armenia will hardly be able to compete with its neighbors over the next several decades, particularly Azerbaijan and Turkey. Besides, the Kurdish issue rises in the context of demography.
Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are landlocked and mountainous countries—75% and 90%, respectively—in Central Asia. The countries’ mountains provide abundance of potable water, which feed the two major rivers of Central Asia. The scarcity of other natural resources understandably results in Bishkek’s and Dushanbe’s attempts to use the water more wisely—building hydropower plants (HPP) for generating electricity.
Another important country is Iran. Iran sits on the second largest gas reserves in the world and has over 93 billion barrels of proven oil reserves with a total of 4.17 million barrels per day in 2009. To the dislike of the United States, Iran is a very active player. The Turkmenistan-Iran gas pipeline, constructed in 1997, was the first new pipeline going out from Central Asia. Furthermore, Iran signed a $120 billion gas exploration deal, often termed the “deal of the century” with China.
A court in Kyrgyzstan on Friday charged three opposition nationalist members of parliament with attempting to stage a coup after they led a crowd which tried to storm government headquarters in a protest over a Canadian-owned gold mine. The charges followed a protest on Wednesday during which demonstrators demanded that the state should nationalise the Kumtor gold mine
Energy potentially could play a significant role if EurAsian countries successfully form alliances to exploit their crude oil, natural gas, and other mineral resources, experts from Johns Hopkins University’s School for Advanced International Studies suggested.
EurAsia’s biggest energy producers and consumers often are adjacent, Calder observed. He said Russia, Central Asia, and the Middle East export 27 million b/d of crude, while South and East Asian nations import some 18 million b/d. Interdependence could grow as various national interests grow more complementary, he added.
This is the new reality: in the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia, the United States must expect that its diplomats will not enjoy protection in societies wracked by political instability and the birth pangs of transition into new forms of government. This problem is by no means exclusive to these areas of conflict. Even Mexican drug cartels have no fear of shooting at diplomatic cars. As Trombly pointed out, the ability of the State Department to advocate for US interests will be compromised if effective measures are not taken.
We primarily view NATO activity given the commitments that NATO took upon itself in the NATO-Russia Founding Act. The meaning of those commitments was that NATO had committed to not positioning its military infrastructure closer to Russian borders and refused to deploy substantial military forces long term on the territory of its new member states. Unfortunately, we see that there are military forces being deployed in the Baltic region. In particular, on the territory of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia new military objects have appeared and NATO aircraft are patrolling the territory.
The United States has been quietly deepening relationships in Central Asia, but in the process it is embracing two authoritarian lifetime presidents who don’t have great records on human rights. The State Department has repeatedly criticized both for those records and for their generally harsh treatment of domestic opponents. Washington seems to be seeking potential long-term footholds in both countries, which are adjacent to Russia, China and Iran.
As a result of the visit of U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Robert Blake to Uzbekistan, sides will sign an agreement on placement of American military troops at the territory of Uzbekistan. This prediction is made by Kazakh media.
The socio-political newspaper of Kazakhstan “Liter” on August 15, published an article where author says that as a result of the visit of U.S. Assistant Secretary Robert Blake to Uzbekistan, parties will agree on placement of military bases.
The newspaper writes that Blake changed plans to visit Kazakhstan and went to Uzbekistan instead.
The reason I include the Central Asian region in my analysis is that because the region constitutes the heart of Asia, coupled with providing the main route to the New Silk Route, a future venture that may lead to a faceoff between Washington and Moscow. The formation of the region’s states makes it interesting to monitor for a neutral observer. Although the US national foreign policy would never keep the region at its top priority, implicit indications from the word go provided a fair picture of what the US was after. The former US National Security advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski once referred to Central Asia as a hotbed of conflict and one of the most strategically important parts of the world, as the ‘Eurasian Balkans’.
Regions of the Northern Caucasus, especially Dagestan, are a special geopolitical position. Here interests overlap both regional and global nature. In the system of regional geopolitics Dagestan plays a central role, due to many factors. Specifically, in case of loss of Dagestan, Russia risks losing the entire North Caucasus, whence it follows immediately the value of Dagestan as a bastion of Russian geopolitics in this volatile region.
ASIS specialises in “HUMINT”—human intelligence—mostly derived from spies “running agents.” Since 2001, under the cover of the so-called “war on terror,” the agency has already acquired new roles, conducting “active operations” and providing front-line intelligence support for Australian military units, particularly the SAS, in the US-led invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq. It has received an unprecedented five-fold expansion of its budget—to about $250 million a year.
Now, ASIS is being increasingly focussed on three fronts that provide a pretext for its agents to step up their activities in far-flung and critical conflict zones. Most notably, these are in Central Asia and South East Asia, where the US and its allies are aggressively combating China’s economic and strategic influence.
Central Asia’s strategic value came to prominence after the September 11 terrorist attacks and the start of the Afghan war. Before then, the region was known for its considerable natural resources but otherwise rarely mentioned. Today, however, these countries are relevant beyond their oil and natural gas reserves. Both Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan have hosted—and the latter still does—U.S. military installations in support of Afghan combat operations. Moreover, the region has been a vital component of the Northern Distribution Network (NDN), which is used by NATO to transport almost all non-lethal and some lethal supplies to Afghanistan.
Central Asian presidents are deeply worried about the potential contagion and effects of the “Arab Spring” events in their countries – which could spark a democratisation process aimed to modify the political status quo – mainly because they fear to lose their power: moreover, the potential overthrow of their secular governments, a following condition of prolonged instability and uncertainty could draw up a kind of power vacuum which radical Islamist forces could dangerously fill.
Russia’s plan to use regional organizations as levers in Central Asia has some flaws, argues Richard Weitz.
Uzbekistan’s withdrawal from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) highlights the growing influence of this often overlooked Moscow-led military alliance in Eurasia. But it also underscores the limited ability of Russia to dominate the former Soviet republics of Central Asia. Even more, it indicates how the typical “great game competition” framework for analyzing great power competition in the region is misleading.
Iran’s issues, the operation in Afghanistan, the establishment of military bases in Uzbekistan will be discussed at the upcoming meeting with U.S military and diplomatic leadership in Tashkent.
The U.S. has sought military cooperation for a long time with Uzbekistan because of the strategic and geopolitical positions of the country. Uzbekistan’s obligations as a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) were one of the main factors that can prevent it and the creation of U.S bases in the Republic.
All Central Asian countries suffer from pervasive corruption, acute income inequalities, political succession problems, and transnational criminal groups that cooperate more effectively than the region’s frequently feuding governments do. Deteriorating public services contributed to the overthrow of Kyrgyzstan’s government, and could lead alienated citizens to support extremists.
All five countries have yet to fully recover from the disintegration of Soviet infrastructure networks, and require urgent domestic and region-wide measures to strengthen their education, transportation, energy provision, health care, and other public services. And their myriad interdependencies increase the risks of transnational threats, such as disease outbreaks, and resource-related confrontations.
An apparently random movement of a Russian Special Forces battalion located in the Central Military District (MD) may be an indication that the General Staff is increasingly concerned about future security in Central Asia. Moreover, it may be an additional sign of the persistent experimentation and policy reversals on reform that are endemic to the Armed Forces. In order to understand the significance of the redeployment of the Special Forces unit in Novosibirsk Oblast, it is important to note the role played by similar forces assigned to rapid reaction elements of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and their recent exercises in Belarus. These elite units retain higher readiness levels than the rest of the Russian Ground Forces and seem to be rehearsing changes in operational tactics
The Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO) is set to approve its first comprehensive strategic plan at its summit in Beijing next month, which could pave the way to upgrade the regional security group to an economic and geopolitical alliance as well.
The six-nation group’s June 6 meeting, in which it will likely adopt Afghanistan as an observer and Turkey as a dialogue partner, comes amid a recent push by the United States to increase its influence in the Asia-Pacific region.
The inclusion of the two nations and the effort to expand its scope has led some observers to wonder whether the SCO could develop into a fully fledged regional group, like Asean, or a platform to counter Nato’s influence.
Without a mediator, the Tajik-Uzbek conflict could lead to another civil war in Tajikistan and to a serious destabilization of the whole of Central Asia. For Russia, this means it has to urgently develop a new strategy.
The relations between Dushanbe and Tashkent have worsened considerably lately and both countries are on the brink of open conflict as a result of this. Uzbekistan, knowing that Tajikistan is completely dependent on it has completely cut off the country from gas and transport. Tashkent claims that the blockade is purely economic: the Tajiks do not pay for the transit of gas and it is therefore more profitable to sell gas to the Chinese.
The BBC has been told by doctors that Uzbekistan is running a secret programme to sterilise women – and has talked to women sterilised without their knowledge or consent.
Adolat has striking looks, a quiet voice and a secret that she finds deeply shameful.
She knows what happened is not her fault, but she cannot help feeling guilty about it.
Adolat comes from Uzbekistan, where life centres around children and a big family is the definition of personal success. Adolat thinks of herself as a failure.
“What am I after what happened to me?” she says as her hand strokes her daughter’s hair – the girl whose birth changed Adolat’s life.
Russia is playing a careful balancing game in Central Asia – stirring up worries about the U.S. military presence is just part of the game.
In keeping with their post-Soviet realpolitik, Russian officials consistently voice support for NATO’s Afghanistan mission. After all, they don’t
want NATO forces to withdraw from Afghanistan too soon for fear that the Afghan War burden will be dumped on them. But should the alliance’s stabilization effort succeed, Russians will be the first to demand the departure of Western troops. And in the meantime, Russian officials are determined to constrain NATO’s military presence in Eurasia by making it dependent on Moscow’s goodwill.
The 3rd Millennium crusaders US, UK, France and other NATO members along with their ‘democracy lover’ Arab clients in Gulf Cooperation Council, Riyadh and Qatar with an Islamists ruled Ankara have been halted at Homs in Syria with stiff military ,political and strategic resistance internationally by Moscow and Beijing in UNSC and elsewhere. The delicate task of defusing the violent conflict situation and then working out some solution to save face has been entrusted to Kofi Annan; former secretary general of UNO, not Washington’s favorite .Kofi had described US led 2003 invasion of Iraq against the UN Charter and hence illegal .So an agreement on Annan is a significant trend in itself.
India is making a concerted push into Central Asia by taking charge of a crucial transportation network through Iran into Central Asia and beyond. After getting an enthusiastic thumbs up from 14 stakeholder countries in the region in January, experts from all the countries will meet in New Delhi on March 29 to put final touches to the project known as the International North-South Corridor.
The project envisages a multi-modal transportation network that connects ports on India’s west coast to Bandar Abbas in Iran, then overland to Bandar Anzali port on the Caspian Sea; thence through Rasht and Astara on the Azerbaijan border onwards to Kazakhstan, and further onwards towards Russia. Once complete, this would connect Europe and Asia in a unique way — experts estimate the distance could be covered in 25-30 days in what currently takes 45-60 days through the Suez Canal.
Statements from Kyrgyz officials about U.S. forces vacating the Manas air base have made the news often in recent months, but in recent days Russia is facing problems over its use of bases in Central Asia. Kyrgyzstan’s president brought the subject of Russia’s unpaid rent for use of a base in his country during a February 23-25 visit to Moscow. Now Tajikistan is bringing up the subject of rent for Russia’s use of bases on its territory.
In an interview with RFE/RL’s Tajik Service on February 28, Tajik Ambassador to Russian Abdulmajid Dostiev said his country and Russia are preparing to extend Russia’s use of three bases in Tajikistan for another 49 years. Asked why there was a delay in signing, Dostiev indicated among the details still being negotiated was the matter of rent for use of the Tajik bases and said “no one in the world today intends to give up even a small plot of their land for nothing.”
A United States-supported airstrike that destroyed with causalities an Abu Sayyaf hideout on the remote island of Jolo in the southern Philippines represented the first known use of the unmanned aerial assault craft in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) counter-insurgency operations against terrorism-linked rebel groups.
The drone attack early this month reportedly killed 15 Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah operatives, including three most-wanted terrorist leaders – Zulkifli bin Hir (alias Marwan), Gumbahali Jumdail (alias Doc Abu), and Mumanda Ali (alias Muawayah) – and raised the level of US-Philippine military cooperation.
Destabilization of the South Caucasus is within the U.S. plans and will be realized through the American Greater Middle East project, Polish expert Mateusz Piskorski told Armenian News-NEWS.am. According to him, it will be more real if the ruling regime in Syria falls.
“After the regime falls, a real war will be launched. Syria is the key partner of Iran in the region and Iran’s position will weaken if Syria’s authorities fall. Furthermore, the events will reflect into the South Caucasus,” the expert said.
For the Central Asian states, the importance of the pipeline goes beyond energy revenues. The first major pipeline from the region that bypasses Russia, it brings a much sought-after diversification of export routes. It secures China as a long-term buyer of Central Asian gas, and one that, unlike European countries, is a growing economy. It also opens up the prospect of sales to Japan and South Korea.
In China, the Central Asian countries have an investor that is willing to bankroll large-scale infrastructure projects – and not just in the energy sector – and that has proved effective in implementing them.
Despite the areas of difference and the rivalries between Moscow and Tehran, Russian and Iranian ties are increasing. Both Russia and Iran share many commonalities. They are both major energy exporters, have deeply seated interests in the South Caucasus, oppose NATO’s missile shield, and want to keep the U.S. and E.U. from controlling the energy corridors around the Caspian Sea Basin. Moscow and Tehran also share many of the same allies, from Armenia, Tajikistan, and Belarus to Syria and Venezuela. Yet, above all things, both republics are also two of Washington’s main geo-strategic targets.
The years to come will see Central Asia at the centre of an economic competition as traditional ally Russia tries to regain ground from an increasingly powerful Chinese presence, a leading Italian expert on the region says.
IWPR asked Fabio Indeo, a research fellow at the University of Camerino who specialises in the geopolitics of Central Asia and the competition of external players for influence in the region, to comment on the growing role of China, and how Moscow is trying to counter it.
he Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) today announced that no-one will be able to establish military bases on the territory of a CSTO member state without the express agreement of all other member states.
In practice, this is a setback for the United States, who will find it next to impossible to establish a new base in Central Asia once the lease on the Manas airbase in Kyrgyzstan expires in 2014, and a boost to Russia who, as a CSTO member state, has a veto on the construction of future bases.
The decision was taken at a meeting of all seven CSTO members – Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
Violence between striking workers and the authorities in western Kazakhstan spread over the weekend, bringing the death toll to 14, the country’s general prosecutor announced on Sunday.
The clashes began Friday in the city of Zhanaozen, where police officers opened fire on striking oil workers who had occupied a city square for six months demanding better wages. The authorities said that 13 people were killed and 86 were wounded. Relatives and some witnesses have said that the death toll is much higher.
Pakistan is not a NATO member state, but rather a strategic partner in military operations in Afghanistan. Islamabad and NATO have concluded an intelligence data exchange agreement.
U.S.-Pakistani relations were spoilt after the liquidation of Osama bin Laden on May 2, 2011. As Bin Laden had lived near Islamabad, Washington suspected the Pakistani authorities of providing assistance to the international criminal.
The bilateral relations were tested on Nov. 26.
The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, in a move initiated by the Obama administration, has voted to waive Bush-era human rights restrictions on military aid to the Islam Karimov dictatorship in Uzbekistan, one of the most brutal and repressive regimes on the planet.
Torture is endemic in Karimov’s Uzbekistan, where his regime has banned all opposition political parties, severely restricted freedom of expression, forced international human rights and NGOs out of the country, suppressed religious freedom, and annually taken as many as two million children out of school to engage in forced labor for the cotton harvest. Thousands of dissidents have been jailed and many hundreds have been killed, some of them literally boiled alive.
It also reflects a stocktaking of the intelligence agencies as Putin prepares to return to power. He draws his support from the spooks, but he also wants efficiency and obedience. The GRU often duplicated the work of the SVR and instead he wants it to concentrate on what it is best at: true military espionage, work in Central Asia and the Caucasus and, one may suspect, occasional assassinations of enemies abroad.
Putin was once a spook; he believes in them and draws many of his closest allies from their ranks. But he also knows that left to their own devices they will tend to be distracted by futile turf wars. They also get too big for their own boots and from time to time need reminding who’s boss. In this respect, the GRU is simply the sacrificial victim of the hour. The FSB and SVR, though, are expected to learn the lesson.
Central Asia: Russia faces a dilemma in the field of security in connection with the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops from Afghanistan
Russia has recently taken steps aimed at strengthening the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), in the hope that he can thus overcome the growing risks to security, which may arise in connection with the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces from Afghanistan. Completion of the withdrawal of foreign troops is scheduled for 2014 . At the moment, NATO is keeping the CSTO in the distance, rejecting requests from the last joint of the threats to regional security. Making the alliance to change his opinion was not an easy task for Russia, and the problem is definitely irritated the Kremlin.
BEIJING — China has sent its elite Snow Leopard anti-terrorism unit to its far western frontier where ethnic violence has flared, hoping to boost security before the area stages an international trade convention in weeks, a state newspaper reported Saturday.
At least 20 people died in two attacks last month in the southern Xinjiang region, where security had already been tight since 2009 fighting between majority Han Chinese and minority ethnic Uighurs (pronounced WEE’-gurs), who are Muslim and share other cultural links with groups in Central Asia.