Showing posts with label CAR. Show all posts
Showing posts with label CAR. Show all posts

24 May 2017

CHINA’S NEW SILK ROADS ARE PAVING A BETTER PATH TO PERSIA

Andrew Korybko

The neoconservative Brookings Institute think tank authored a 2009 strategic publication about the most efficient way for the US to asymmetrically destabilize Iran, titling their blueprint “Which Path To Persia? Options For A New American Strategy Towards Iran”. Eurasian geopolitics has been completely upended in the 7 years since that document was first published, and many (but crucially, not all) of the precepts mentioned within it are outdated and irrelevant to the contemporary international context. That said, the concept of trailblazing the best Path to Persia still remains attractive, though no longer just for the US and this time towards completely different ends than the original idea had planned for. The rise of China and the unveiling of the worldwide One Belt One Road strategic vision have led to the People’s Republic taking a keen interest in directly connecting itself with the Islamic Republic, and herein lies the foundation for forging a different sort of Path to Persia. 

9 March 2017

Renewed Conflict Over Nagorno-Karabakh


The likelihood that Armenians and Azerbaijanis will clash over Nagorno-Karabakh in the next twelve months is high. The situation remains tense following fierce fighting in April 2016 that marked the worst bloodshed since the 1994 cease-fire that established the current territorial division.

Nagorno-Karabakh, an autonomous region in Azerbaijan populated mostly by Armenians, sought to break away from central government control in 1988. When Armenia and Azerbaijan gained their independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the region also declared independence. This triggered a full-scale war in which Nagorno-Karabakh forces, with support from Armenia, gained control over most of the autonomous region plus seven additional provinces, totaling 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s geographic area. Tensions have built up steadily over the past six years, as energy-rich Azerbaijan enlarged its military capability, public opposition by Armenians and Azerbaijanis to a compromise settlement grew, and cease-fire violations became commonplace.

During the April 2016 military clashes, there were roughly three hundred and fifty casualties, with more than one hundred military personnel and civilians killed. Azerbaijan deployed tanks, helicopters, and assault drones to recapture two small slices of territory controlled by Nagorno-Karabakh forces. The United States, Russia, and France—co-chairs of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group responsible for mediating the conflict—used diplomacy to halt the violence. They have been unable, however, to revitalize the peace process.

12 September 2016

Hybrid Wars. The “Greater Heartland”, Crossroads Of The Multipolar World

By Andrew Korybko

Redefining The Heartland:

The “Greater Heartland” acquires its premier strategic and economic importance due to being the supercontinental fulcrum of multipolar integration. As was mentioned at the end of Part III, there’s a direct overlap between Russia’s Eurasian Union and China’s New Silk Road, and the countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan presently fall under both connective umbrellas. To those attuned with geopolitical theory, these three states noticeably correlate with the broad territory that early 20th-century British strategist Halford Mackinder termed the “Heartland”, which he defined as the geopolitical pivot of Eurasia. More contemporary strategists narrowed the region down to the former Soviet Republics of Central Asia, but the author feels that this is presently insufficient to accommodate for the changing dynamics of the evolving world order, and thus proposes a modification of the concept to include Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan as well. This redefined version of Mackinder’s original thesis moves the center of geopolitical gravity in a more southwards direction (by contrast, Mackinder’s broad contours included all of Siberia and most of the Russian Far East) in order to reflect more relevant areas of geopolitical competition between the unipolar and multipolar worlds in the context of the New Cold War.

5 September 2016

Uzbekistan and the Coming Central Asian Storm

https://geopoliticalfutures.com/uzbekistan-and-the-coming-central-asian-storm/?utm_source=Geopolitical+Futures+-+Weekly+Analysis&utm_campaign=e9a0dbfc6b-160903_WA_Weekly_Digest&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c98b211994-e9a0dbfc6b-161671693
Aug. 29, 2016 The authoritarian Uzbek leader’s hospitalization could mean chaos in the region.
By Kamran Bokhari

While the world continues to be captivated by ever-growing crises in the Middle East, the nearby region of Central Asia is headed toward destabilization, as our 2016 forecast suggests. Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan have been ruled by geriatric strongmen for over a quarter of a century, going back to the days of the Soviet Union. Uzbekistan is at great risk for instability, given that its president has been hospitalized after a reported stroke with no clear succession plan among regional clan rivalries. Since Uzbekistan borders each of the countries in the region, instability there could destabilize in the rest of Central Asia as well.
Islam Karimov, Uzbekistan’s 78-year-old ruler and the only president the country has had since the collapse of the Soviet Union, has been hospitalized, according to reports on Aug. 28. According to official state media outlet UzA, Karimov is receiving in-patient treatment and unnamed medical specialists said that “a full medical examination and subsequent treatment will require a certain period of time.” Uzbekistan is an extremely opaque nation, and thus it is difficult to ascertain the precise status of Karimov’s health. That said, Tashkent has never before released information on the health of the ailing president, which is why it is reasonable to assume that a leadership transition is finally at hand.

Uzbekistan is not your average authoritarian state. Many autocratic regimes, despite the overwhelming influence of the ruling family and friends, develop institutions. In sharp contrast, multiple clans from Uzbekistan’s various regions have long been struggling for power. Karimov was able to rule because he could balance the clans from the country’s three principal regions (Samarkand, Tashkent and Fergana) and four lesser ones (Jizzakh, Kashkadarya, Khorezm and Karakalpak). In addition, Karimov’s family has been at war with itself – as is evident from the publicly acrimonious relationship between his daughters, Gulnara Karimova and Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva. This combination of two pictures shows the elder daughter of Uzbekistan’s president, Gulnara Karimova (L) and her sister and Uzbekistan’s representative to UNESCO, Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva. Gulnara has accused her sister of destructive behavior and ties to sorcerers, in a public row that has exposed rifts in the Central Asian ruling family.
This means there is no clear line of succession and great risk of a power struggle. The regional bases of the various top clans in the country increases the risk of civil war, though it is possible that the massive costs of infighting could push the elites to negotiate a power-sharing settlement.

27 August 2016

China Quietly Displacing Both Russia and US From Central Asia

August 2, 2016 

Tajikistani President Emomali Rahmon (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping 

Since 1991, the influence of the Russian Federation in Central Asia has been on the decline, and many have assumed that the United States would move in to fill the resulting vacuum. US influence has indeed increased, at least in certain countries of that strategically important region. But a far more important external player there now is China, which is engaged in what some observers call “a quiet expansion” or even “the Sinification” of Central Asian countries (see China Brief, July 29, 2011; see EDM, January 24, 2011; November 3, 2015; February 10, 2016;March 10, 2016; April 8, 2016).

Although they are often overlooked, China has some real advantages in this effort. It is geographically closer; it is Asian and therefore not associated with past empires, Russian or Western; it does not share the concerns of Russia about retaining control at all costs, or of the United States about promoting democracy and human rights. And in contrast to the two other players, it has enormous financial resources it can put in play to help the hard-pressed countries in Central Asia.

Nowhere has the spread of Chinese influence been greater than in Tajikistan. Dushanbe-based commentator Arkady Barayev says that this has been the result of a longstanding calculation. Namely, China has always sought first to expand into neighboring countries that are internally weak. There, it establishes its influence by taking control of industrial enterprises and natural resources. Only after that does it push to dominate the political sphere or even “seize” territory (Centrasia.ru, July 27).

14 July 2016

Afghanistan’s Role in the Central Asia-South Asia Energy Projects

By Zabihullah Mudabber
July 12, 2016

A bevy of energy projects linking Central and South Asia could provide much-needed stability for Afghanistan. 

Afghanistan is transforming itself into a roundabout between two emerging economic hot spots in the next decade, connecting Central Asia to South Asia for further regional cooperation, energy transformation, trade, and transit. The Central and South Asia region is rapidly changing. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will soon add new members for the first time since taking its current form. China is set to invest $46 billion in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor linking Kashgar to Gwadar and India will invest $500 million in Iran’s Chabahar port. And there are a slew of other regional connectivity projects: the Five Nations Railway corridor (linking China to Iran via Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan) and — most importantly — the regional energy integration projects, including the CASA-1000 electricity transmission project, the TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) natural gas pipeline, and the TUTAP (Turkmenistan-Uzbekistan-Tajikistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan) electricity transmission line. All these initiatives foreshadow significant geo-economic shifts in the near future. This creates favorable conditions for Afghanistan to play its natural role of connecting the two emerging economic zones and lift itself out of political and economic fragility.

6 July 2016

Imagined Integration: How Russia Can Maintain Its Influence in Central Asia

01.07.2016

Moscow should stop thinking of the other members of the Eurasian Economic Union as junior partners. Russian and Central Asian weakness vis-à-vis China should inspire consolidation and cooperation rather than competition.

In the two years since Russia began its “pivot to Asia,” Moscow has touted its involvement in two major regional initiatives: the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) and the Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB). When presidents Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping signed a declaration on cooperation between the EEU and the SREB in May 2015, Moscow and Beijing agreed to coordinate their economic initiatives on the continent for the first time, potentially ushering in a new era of Eurasian cooperation. 

Both projects looked promising initially. Moscow’s involvement added global prestige to Xi Jinping’s SREB initiative, allowing above-ground transportation routes to run from China to Europe, and providing new markets for Chinese manufacturers and infrastructure companies. The SREB seemed to have the potential to bring China and Central Asia closer together and to strengthen the position of the yuan as the regional currency. 

Chinese recognition of the EEU seemed to fulfill Moscow’s desire to be respected as a global economic and political force, and set the stage for Russia to receive Chinese credit on favorable terms, as well as investment in infrastructure projects connecting the members of the EEU. 

For their part, the Central Asian nations expected engagement with China through the EEU to give them access to cheap Chinese money, as well as investment and employment opportunities. 

11 June 2016

Geopolitical Futures logo Please feel free to forward this email to friends and colleagues! Reality Check A daily explanation of what matters and what doesn't in the world of geopolitics. June 10, 2016 By Kamran Bokhari Central Asia: The Next Region to Unravel The instability in Kazakhstan in recent weeks could spread throughout the region. While the world is focused on the crises in the Middle East, the European Union, Russia and China, Central Asia – located at the center of these regions – is in meltdown. Central Asia cannot avoid being affected by the chaos in the countries surrounding it and is at risk of destabilization. The largest and wealthiest state in the region, Kazakhstan, is most at risk. In recent weeks, Kazakhstan has been hit by two types of security challenges: civil unrest and terrorism. In May, Kazakh law enforcement agencies broke up demonstrations across the country, protesting plans to privatize large swathes of farmland. The government of President Nursultan Nazarbayev and its ally, Russia, believe these protests were backed by the U.S. and designed to foment a color revolution. Considering the large area covered by the protests and the fact that this is an authoritarian state that does not tolerate any genuine opposition, the idea that the West was trying to push Kazakhstan into a Ukraine-like revolution is not unreasonable. While Astana was still grappling with this issue, the country was rocked by a terrorist attack that killed 19 people on June 5. It was carried out by suspected Islamist militants in the northwestern industrial city of Aktobe. The attack, which involved 20 gunmen who struck at three separate locations, appears to have been a fairly sophisticated operation – at least for Kazakhstan, where such incidents are quite rare. Two cells struck at two separate firearms stores, while a third commandeered a bus and used it to ram the gate at a national guard base. Nazarbayev, who is 76 years old and has ruled the oil-rich country for a quarter of a century, issued a statement warning that foreign forces were out to destabilize the country. Whether foreign actors played a role in either of the two incidents remains unclear. But it appears that both pro-democracy and jihadist forces are challenging the regime. For Geopolitical Futures, this is not surprising. Our forecast for the current year predicted that Central Asia is headed toward a crisis. Join Thousands of Satisfied Readers – Subscribe Today! Our position has been that the Central Asian states will destabilize because the world around them has descended into turmoil. The Middle East is in chaos because of the meltdown of autocratic regimes, which has enabled the Islamic State to emerge as a major international security threat. The European Union has become an incoherent entity and faces an uncertain future as Germany deals with a looming export crisis. To the east, China’s growth miracle has come to an end. Finally, Russia, which wields the most influence in Central Asia, is in deep trouble because of the plunge in oil prices. Therefore, it is impossible for Central Asia to remain an island of stability in the middle of an ocean of chaos. Though we are at the beginning of the unraveling, the events in Kazakhstan show that our forecast is on track. For over two decades, the country’s leadership has maintained stability largely because of revenues from crude oil exports. It was a country built on oil wealth, with Western and Chinese investor interest and a strong alliance with Russia. With the steep decline in oil prices, the Nazarbayev regime is struggling to maintain order. Nazarbayev and his top associates have been trying to deal with rampant corruption in the armed forces. The impending leadership transition (due to Nazarbayev’s age) and the weakening of the authoritarian system are creating space for a host of actors who until now were kept at bay. It will be a while before the instability metastasizes in Kazakhstan, and at this early stage it is difficult to know how events will unfold. However, there are few arrestors in the path of this trajectory. Those forces seeking democratic change seem weak, while those with an Islamist agenda in this Muslim-majority nation seem more powerful – in no small part due to their use of armed insurrection. Therefore, the country may turn into a large ungoverned space while the world continues to hope democrats will replace the Soviet-era regime. This is similar to the Arab Spring, which the West hoped would bring democracy to the Arab world; this hope soon faded. The Arab Spring started in a relatively small North African country, Tunisia, but then quickly spread across the Middle East. In Central Asia, the instability has started in the largest country in the region – leaving other Central Asian states vulnerable. When Kazakhstan destabilizes, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and even Kyrgyzstan (which has already gone through one popular uprising) will not be far behind. All these states, along with Russia, have long been worried about how post-NATO Afghanistan could destabilize Central Asia and even Russia. However, the biggest state in the north of the region, far from Afghanistan, is actually where the unrest has begun. The geopolitical precipice that Central Asia is now standing on – highlighted by the events in Kazakhstan – suggests that the fallout from a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan may be just a footnote in the story of how this region foundered.


A daily explanation of what matters and what doesn't in the world of geopolitics.
June 10, 2016
By Kamran Bokhari
Central Asia: The Next Region to Unravel

The instability in Kazakhstan in recent weeks could spread throughout the region.
While the world is focused on the crises in the Middle East, the European Union, Russia and China, Central Asia – located at the center of these regions – is in meltdown. Central Asia cannot avoid being affected by the chaos in the countries surrounding it and is at risk of destabilization. The largest and wealthiest state in the region, Kazakhstan, is most at risk.
In recent weeks, Kazakhstan has been hit by two types of security challenges: civil unrest and terrorism. In May, Kazakh law enforcement agencies broke up demonstrations across the country, protesting plans to privatize large swathes of farmland.

The government of President Nursultan Nazarbayev and its ally, Russia, believe these protests were backed by the U.S. and designed to foment a color revolution. Considering the large area covered by the protests and the fact that this is an authoritarian state that does not tolerate any genuine opposition, the idea that the West was trying to push Kazakhstan into a Ukraine-like revolution is not unreasonable.
While Astana was still grappling with this issue, the country was rocked by a terrorist attack that killed 19 people on June 5. It was carried out by suspected Islamist militants in the northwestern industrial city of Aktobe. The attack, which involved 20 gunmen who struck at three separate locations, appears to have been a fairly sophisticated operation – at least for Kazakhstan, where such incidents are quite rare. Two cells struck at two separate firearms stores, while a third commandeered a bus and used it to ram the gate at a national guard base.
Nazarbayev, who is 76 years old and has ruled the oil-rich country for a quarter of a century, issued a statement warning that foreign forces were out to destabilize the country. Whether foreign actors played a role in either of the two incidents remains unclear. But it appears that both pro-democracy and jihadist forces are challenging the regime. For Geopolitical Futures, this is not surprising. Our forecast for the current year predicted that Central Asia is headed toward a crisis.

Our position has been that the Central Asian states will destabilize because the world around them has descended into turmoil. The Middle East is in chaos because of the meltdown of autocratic regimes, which has enabled the Islamic State to emerge as a major international security threat. The European Union has become an incoherent entity and faces an uncertain future as Germany deals with a looming export crisis. To the east, China’s growth miracle has come to an end. Finally, Russia, which wields the most influence in Central Asia, is in deep trouble because of the plunge in oil prices.
Therefore, it is impossible for Central Asia to remain an island of stability in the middle of an ocean of chaos. Though we are at the beginning of the unraveling, the events in Kazakhstan show that our forecast is on track. For over two decades, the country’s leadership has maintained stability largely because of revenues from crude oil exports. It was a country built on oil wealth, with Western and Chinese investor interest and a strong alliance with Russia.

31 May 2016

Hybrid Wars and “Color Revolutions” in the Central Asian Heartland: Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan

April 11, 2016

The threat facing Turkmenistan is less of a Color Revolution than an Unconventional War. The catalyst for this conflict would be a terrorist invasion coming from Afghanistan that unexpectedly sweeps northwards along the Murgab River. Such an offensive doesn’t even have to reach the national capital in order to be successful, since all that it really needs to do is capture the city of Mary, the capital of the resource-rich Mary Region. This part of the country contains the lion’s share of Turkmenistan’s gas reserve, which includes the massive and decades-long functioning Dauletabad Field and the newly discovered Galkynysh Field, the latter being the world’s second-largest find.

It wouldn’t be all that difficult for terrorists to take over this plot of land either, since the Murgab River is scattered with tiny villages along its banks that could provide cover from government airstrikes and places to provoke pitched battles from. The fertile land nearby is endowed with agricultural potential that’s surely being stored somewhere closely accessible, and this could help feed the occupying forces until greater conquests are made. In short, the Murgab River is the most militarily and logistically sustainable route for an ISIL-like invasion of Turkmenistan, and it leads straight to the gas heart of Eurasia that’s critically connected to China and will possibly be linked to India in the coming decade as well.

12 May 2016

Map: Connecting central Asia A ribbon of road, rail and energy projects to help increase trade


China’s “One Belt, One Road” project aims to make central Asia more connected to the world, yet even before the initiative was formally announced China had helped to redraw the energy map of the region. It had built an oil pipeline from Kazakhstan, a gas pipeline that allowed Turkmenistan to break its dependence on dealings with Russia and another pipeline that has increased the flow of Russian oil to China.

Suppliers looking for ways around Russian restrictions

Chinese companies have funded and built roads, bridges and tunnels across the region. A ribbon of fresh projects, such as the Khorgos “dry port” on the Kazakh-Chinese border and a railway link connecting Kazakhstan with Iran, is helping increase trade across central Asia.

Sample the FT, with the top stories sent FREE to your inbox every morning.

For 1 week, you’ll get an email with free access to the 3 most read FT stories.

By clicking Sign Up you confirm that you have read and agree to the terms and conditions, cookie policy andprivacy policy. Unsubscribe at any time.

China is not the only investor in central Asian connectivity. Multilateral financial institutions, such as the Asian Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the World Bank have long been investing in the region’s infrastructure. The Kazakh government has its own $9bn stimulus plan, directing money from its sovereign wealth fund to infrastructure investment. Other countries, including Turkey, the US, and the EU have also made improving Eurasian connectivity a part of their foreign policy.


1) Moscow-Kazan high-speed railway A China-led consortium last year won a $375m contract to build a 770km high-speed railway line between Moscow and Kazan. Total investment in the project — set to cut journey time between the cities from 12 hours to 3.5 hours — is some $16.7bn.

2) Khorgos-Aktau railway In May last year, Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev announced a plan to build — with China — a railway from Khorgos on the Chinese border to the Caspian Sea port of Aktau. The scheme dovetails with a $2.7bn Kazakh project to modernise its locomotives and freight and passenger cars and repair 450 miles of rail.

3) Central Asia-China gas pipeline The 3,666km Central Asia-China gas pipeline predated the new Silk Road but forms the backbone of infrastructure connections between Turkmenistan and China. Chinese-built, it runs from the Turkmenistan/Uzbekistan border to Jingbian in China and cost $7.3bn.
Related article

A $46bn economic corridor through disputed territories in Kashmir is causing most concern

4) Cental Asia-China gas pipeline, line D China signed agreements with Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to build a fourth line of the central Asia-China gas pipeline in September 2013. Line D is expected to raise Turkmenistan’s gas export capacity to China from 55bn cu m per year to 85bn cu m.

5) China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway Kyrgyzstan’s prime minister Temir Sariev said in December that the construction of the delayed Kyrgyz leg of the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway would start this year. In September, Uzbekistan said it had finished 104km of the 129km Uzbek stretch of the railway.

6) Khorgos Gateway Khorgos Gateway, a dry port on the China-Kazakh border that is seen as a key cargo hub on the new Silk Road, began operations in August. China’s Jiangsu province has agreed to invest more than $600m over five years to build logistics and industrial zones around Khorgos.
Related article

Land route takes 14 days compared with 45 by sea

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2016. All rights reserved. You may share using our article tools. Please don't cut articles from FT.com and redistribute by email or post to the web.

4 May 2016

Protests Spread Across Kazakhstan

By Lili Bayer
May 2, 2016

Unrest in Central Asia could signal regional destabilization.

Nearly 30 years ago, in December 1986, several thousand young Kazakhs took to the streets in protest over the appointment of an ethnic Russian, Gennady Kolbin, as new head of the then-Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic’s branch of the Communist Party. The protests spread to several towns before Soviet security forces violently cracked down on the demonstrators. The 1986 protests in Kazakhstan are remembered today by outsiders as a relatively minor episode in the lead up to the momentous fall of the Soviet Union five years later. And yet, it was these demonstrations that were among the first signals that a significant change was underway in the Soviet Union.

Large-scale protests in Central Asia today are relatively rare. Most of the region’s regimes use a variety of tools, from crackdowns to patronage networks, to prevent potential unrest. Nevertheless, Central Asia is slowly destabilizing. The region is at the crossroads of several interrelated crises. To the north, Russia is experiencing significant financial challenges. To the east, China’s economy is slowing down. In the south, Afghanistan remains highly unstable, while in the west, the Middle East is rife with civil wars and growing rivalries. Central Asia is reeling from the impact of surrounding crises: the region’s exposure to Russia and China, as well a heavy reliance on commodity exports, have caused currencies to plunge, remittances to drop and Central Asian migrants to return home from abroad, jobless.

30 April 2016

*** China's Long March Into Central Asia

April 28, 2016

▪ China's military role in Central Asia will increasingly focus on arms sales, counterterrorism and bilateral initiatives outside the Russia- and China-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

▪ The country's regional security efforts will reflect the need to protect growing Chinese economic interests, including the Belt and Road Initiative.

▪ Beijing will promote Chinese language instruction in Central Asian countries to mitigate linguistic barriers and boost cooperation.

▪ China's military influence in the region will continue to trail behind Russia's but will ultimately weaken Moscow's presence in the long term.

Analysis

27 April 2016

China, the United States and the Future of Central Asia



On Wednesday night, the Foreign Policy Association hosted Dr. David Denoon, a professor of politics and economics at New York University, and director of the NYU Center on U.S.- China relations. Professor Denoon’s remarks stem from his new book China, the United States and the Future of Central Asia, to which he brought his extensive insight before a packed crowd at the U.S. Trust Building in New York City. Denoon previously served in the federal government in three positions: as program economist for USAID in Jakarta, Vice President of the U.S. Export-Import Bank, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense.

23 April 2016

The impact of China on Europe and Central Asia

Abstract The economies of Europe and Central Asia (ECA) are facing complex challenges. In the eastern part of the region the task of governments is to orchestrate a coordinated crisis response. The collapse of oil revenues and the associated decline in remittances triggered a chain reaction of shocks. Adjustment to these shocks requires a new monetary policy regime, resolution of serious fragilities in banking sectors, fiscal reforms that put government finances on a sustainable path, while guaranteeing fair burden sharing, and facilitation of job creation in sectors that compete internationally. In the western part of the region policy coordination within the European Union is being tested by the refugee crisis and a possible Brexit. Meanwhile the Chinese economy has slowed down and is in the process of fundamental transformation. Also these developments have major impacts on the ECA region. The report analyses all these challenges and points at the opportunities to become more competitive in global markets. See Less -

Details

Author Timmer, Hans; Bussolo, Maurizio; Gould, David Michael; Letelier, Raquel Alejandra; Nguyen, Tu Chi; Panterov, Georgi Lyudmilov; Shaw, William; Ushakova, Ekaterina; Burns, Andrew; Izvorski, Ivailo V.; Pigato, Miria A.; Sanchez, Carolina;
Document Date 2016/04/01 06:07:05
Document Type Publication
Report Number 104605
Volume No 1
Total Volume(s) 1
Country Europe and Central Asia;
Region Europe and Central Asia;
Disclosure Date 2016/04/07 06:06:18
Disclosure Status Disclosed
Doc Name The impact of China on Europe and Central Asia

See More +
Downloads
Complete Report in English

Official version of document (may contain signatures, etc)
Official PDF, 138 pages 6.73 mb
TXT *

*The text version is uncorrected OCR text and is included solely to benefit users with slow connectivity.

10 April 2016

Is the TAPI Pipeline ‘Doable’? The Asian Development Bank thinks so.

http://thediplomat.com/2016/04/is-the-tapi-pipeline-doable/
By Catherine Putz, April 09, 2016
The Asian Development Bank this week oversaw the signing of an investment agreement among the four partners in the much-discussed Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-India-Pakistan pipeline. The four agreed to invest an initial budget of more than $200 million.
As has been frequently discussed in these pixels, the TAPI project is impressive in its ambitions and massive in its mysteries. Last December, Turkmenistan hosted a groundbreaking ceremony and in February regional media reported that Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov had told a gathering of his ministers that “topographic, engineering and survey works have been completed for the construction of TAPI.”

The recent ADB press release, however, implies otherwise:
This [the $200 million investment] includes funding for detailed engineering and route surveys, environmental and social safeguard studies, and procurement and financing activities, to enable a final investment decision, after which construction can begin. Construction is estimated to take up to 3 years.
For years TAPI has been spinning its wheels, with the partners making periodic updates and statements which are a simple simulacrum of progress.
In an interview with Reuters, Sean O’Sullivan, the Central and West Asia director general of the ADB, said that present timetables peg 2020 for completion of the pipeline, which will carry 33 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas annually from the Galkynysh field in Turkmenistan to markets in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India. According to Reuters, the current plans for the pipeline include an underground pipe through some of the most volatile regions in Afghanistan:

“I agree … we’re going through some of the toughest territory in Afghanistan,” said [O'Sullivan], a transaction adviser for the project.
“The challenge is there. There’s no doubt about it, but I am sure it’s doable.”
He added, “I think if it happens, it will be quite an unprecedented example of regional cooperation, particularly in a region that finds it difficult to cooperate.”

The Soviet Union Is Falling Apart Again


http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2016-04-05/the-soviet-union-is-falling-apart-again

April 5, 2016By
Leonid Bershidsky

Armenia and Azerbaijan have announced a truce after three days of fierce fighting in the secessionist region of Nagorno-Karabakh, but the flare-up is proof that the post-Soviet frozen conflicts are not really frozen. At any moment, they can be ignited by the realignment of international alliances and loyalties, and people will start dying again.There are four post-Soviet frozen conflicts. Three smolder around the Black Sea: Transnistria, a separatist region of Moldova, the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and, since last year, eastern Ukraine. The first two started in the early 1990s, the third one in 2014, as Russia attempted to destabilize an anti-Moscow government in Kiev. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, a territory disputed by Armenia and Azerbaijan, is the oldest.

In 1988, the legislature of this region of Azerbaijan, populated mostly by ethnic Armenians, voted to secede and join Armenia. That country's current president, Serzh Sargsyan, was among the local activists pushing for such a move. Azerbaijan objected and fought a bloody war against Armenia, marked by massacres as both sides attempted ethnic cleansing, the interference of Soviet troops on the Azeri side and the participation of ferocious volunteers from the Russian part of the Caucasus. Armenia won the war, and by the time an internationally brokered cease-fire came into effect in 1994, Nagorno-Karabakh had an almost exclusively Armenian population and was run by a pro-Yerevan government. About 1 million people were displaced.The cease-fire has held for more than two decades despite intermittent border clashes. It's not clear who started the hostilities last weekend that caused dozens of casualties on either side: Armenia and Azerbaijan blame each other. Last fall, Azerbaijan's foreign minister, Elmar Mammadyarov, threatened to attack Nagorno-Karabakh unless Armenia unconditionally withdrew its troops.

Azerbaijan's new decisiveness may stem from the open backing the Muslim country receives from Turkey. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish president, has vowed to "support Azerbaijan to the end." This isn't just words: Since turning into a bitter enemy of Russian President Vladimir Putin of Russia after Turkey downed a Russian warplane on the Syrian border last year, Erdogan is eager to let Putin know that he's not afraid. Armenia is a close ally of Russia, part of its flailing Eurasian Economic Union with several other post-Soviet countries, but it's not Russia itself, making it a tempting target for Erdogan. Putin hasn't come out unequivocally in support of Armenia, instead calling on both sides to respect the cease-fire.Azerbaijan, however, cannot afford to break away completely from Russia and join Turkey's orbit. Its traditional economic ties with Moscow have weakened, and it does more trade with the U.S. and major EU countries, but Russia could be a fearsome enemy. So Azerbaijan is hoping for a negotiated solution to the conflict that would curb Armenia's gains.

6 April 2016

** Map of The Week: Central Asian Geography

April 2, 2016 

Can the region's strategic position and demographics help explain its instability? 


Dear Reader,


To understand why Central Asia is both strategically important and politically fragile, this map is where you must begin. Artificial borders drawn by outside powers set various clans and ethnic groups against each other as they compete for relatively limited resources. The 3,000-mile border to the north with Russia is flat and offers no protection from potential invaders. Trapped between several major powers, including Russia and China, Central Asia is deeply affected by instability in the countries that surround it. But due to its strategic position, instability in Central Asia can also create spillover effects in Russia, western China, Afghanistan and even Syria and Iraq, and can impact U.S. interests in South Asia and the Middle East. We forecast that, in 2016, Central Asia will destabilize due to the chaos and instability that surrounds it on the Eurasian landmass. But before we could make that forecast, we had to start with an understanding of Central Asia's geography.



** Armenia, Azerbaijan and a Dangerous Conflict

By George Friedman 
April 4, 2016 

A daily explanation of what matters and what doesn't in the world of geopolitics. 

The dispute over territory has potential to draw in major powers. 

Summary The conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh has been simmering since 1994. The area may seem of limited importance, but the Caucasus has strategic value to surrounding powers like Russia, Turkey and Iran. 

Over the last few days, fighting broke out between Armenia and Azerbaijan along their ceasefire line in Nagorno-Karabakh. There has been a long-standing dispute between the two countries over an area that was part of Azerbaijan when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, but claimed by Armenia in a war that reached stalemate in 1994. It has since been one of numerous frozen conflicts in the area. The freeze thawed rapidly late last week as Armenian and Azerbaijani troops engaged in the heaviest fighting since 1994. There has been fighting along the line in the past. This time, it was reported that weapons such as multiple rocket launch systems firing Grad rockets were used along with helicopter gunships. This was obviously not an isolated incident because use of weapons of this sort would have to be authorized by much higher command echelons. With over a dozen dead and many wounded on each side, this is the most substantial breach of the ceasefire since 1994.

Wars in faraway places are of little interest to many, but it has to be remembered that all the wars the United States has been involved in since World War II have been in faraway places of little interest. Understanding Nagorno-Karabakh is important, not because the U.S. will become involved, but because the United States tends to become involved in just this kind of conflict.

19 March 2016

* Pakistan Doubles Down on TAPI

Nothing but hopeful language about the pipeline as the Turkmen president visits Pakistan.
By Catherine Putz, March 18, 2016
Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, the president of Turkmenistan, is on a two-day visit to Pakistan. As noted in several Pakistani news outlets, the highlight of his discussions in Islamabad with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been, of course, the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-India-Pakistan (TAPI) pipeline.
The most optimistic voices say the pipeline can be completed by 2018; in December Turkmen authorities said late 2019. But Pakistan is keen to “fast-track” construction. Many regional watchers are deeply skeptical of either target date. Pakistan, however, has doubled down on TAPI, despite the continuing instability in neighboring Afghanistan, through which the pipeline must pass. This week’s visit marks Sharif’s third meeting with Berdimuhamedov in the past nine months. He attended the TAPI groundbreaking in December and in late May 2015 Ashgabat was the penultimate stop on his Central Asia tour.
Pakistan and Turkmenistan signed several cooperation accords and seven memorandums of understandingduring their meeting. Among the agreements was a program of cooperation for the next two years signed by Tariq Fatemi, Special Assistant to the Pakistani Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs and Turkmenistan’s Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov. The MoUs signed covered energy cooperation, the exchange of financial intelligence and several covered relations between Turkmen universities and institutes and Pakistani academic institutions.
Terrorism made its usual appearance in discussions between Sharif and his Central Asian guest. The Associated Press of Pakistan reported that Sharif said, “This menace also undermines our endeavors for socio-economic development. We have to work collectively to eradicate the scourge of terrorism and extremism.”