Central Asia

Written by  //  December 19, 2011  //  Central Asia, Geopolitics  //  No comments

CIA World Factbook ; BBC Central Asia News

Central Asia’s waking giant
Most people in the west have never heard of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, but it’s time they did
The SCO emerged from the wreckage of the Soviet Union in 1996. Today, its members are Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, while Mongolia, Iran, Pakistan and India are observers. (The Guardian, January 2009)

Make a new plan, Stans
The biggest instability facing the region’s dictators is the lack of any mechanism to succeed them
(The Economist) FAR from being at the heart of a happening continent, for much of modern times Central Asia stagnated on the periphery. Now, 20 years after breaking from the Soviet Union, things are changing for the “Stans”. For one thing, huge and growing quantities of oil and gas are being uncovered. Seven-tenths of all the increase in oil output outside OPEC is coming from Central Asia. Led by Kazakhstan, an energy boom is under way.
Partly because of that, pipelines, roads and railways are reshaping the continent. A pipeline opened in 2009 that runs for 7,000km (4,400 miles) from gasfields in Turkmenistan to energy-hungry China. Railway plans are ambitious. China’s schemes would mean that by 2025 a Shanghai resident could reach his tailor in London’s Savile Row by train in two days.
19 December
OSCE discusses CA energy co-operation
The conference focused on pan-regional energy projects and their social and environmental management, according to an OSCE statement.
The OSCE Academy and the French embassy jointly organised the Regional/Transboundary Co-operation in Energy conference, which diplomats, members of international organisations and NGOs and local government officials attended.
Participants discussed topics such as “cross-border energy supply and the region’s energy deficits as well as current projects such as the Central Asia South Asia Regional Electricity and Trade (CASA-1000) and the TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India natural gas) pipeline,” according to the statement.
16 December
No Great Game: The Story of Post-Cold War Powers in Central Asia
(The Atlantic) This post is part of a 12-part series exploring how the U.S.-Russia relationship has shaped the world since the December 1991 end of the Soviet Union. Read the full series here.
On December 16, 2011, Kazakhstan will celebrate the 20th anniversary of its independence from the Soviet Union. It was the last country to politically separate itself from Russia in 1991, the final nail in the coffin of the seven-decade Soviet experiment. The year saw a wave of Soviet states pulling away from the Soviet Union, like the skins of an onion, until only Russia was left in the center.
Central Asia, a part of the world that has long been the subject of speculation, romantic adventure fantasies, and misinformation, suddenly found itself in the global spotlight. Kazakhstan possessed the world’s largest nuclear testing site in Semipalatinsk, dozens of nuclear weapons, a biological weapons research facility on Vozrozhdeniye Island in the dried-up Aral Sea, and huge reserves of oil and natural gas in the Caspian Sea. Turkmenistan, too, had some of the world’s largest reserves of natural gas.
The U.S., though, seems destined to diminish in the region, even as Central Asia finally flirts with economic viability. Kazakhstan’s economy is thriving, Kyrgyzstan joined the WTO well before Russia, and Turkmenistan’s gas pipeline to China has brought it much-needed cash. Both Turkey and China are spending increasing amounts of money and energy to gain social, economic, and political footholds in the region, and Russia is looking for new ways to extend its “security umbrella” southward. The U.S. is trying to cement its position with the New Silk Road, a concept for regional trade that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is mentioning in speeches, but that project’s success seems far from certain.

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