Showing posts tagged as "central asia"

Showing posts tagged central asia

30 Jan
LINK

How U.S. forces leaving Afghanistan affects the rest of Central Asia

BBC’s David Loyn speaks with Deirdre Tynan, our Central Asia Project Director, about the possible dangers to Afghanistan’s Central Asian neighbors as U.S. forces begin to withdraw.

Deirdre’s remarks begin at around 25 minutes.

29 Jan
Central Asia: A Dangerous Thirst | Alina Dabaeva
This piece originally appeared on Crisis Group’s blog, Across Eurasia.
On the grand scale, Central Asia’s water problems have been well documented since the fall of the Soviet Union. Journalists wrote of the apparently inexorable shrinking of the Aral Sea, once one of the four largest lakes in the world; by 2007, at a tenth of its normal size, it had split up into several smaller bodies of water. An excellent view of these broad shifts can be found at Aqueduct’s Water Risk Atlas.
Uzbek President Islam Karimov has warned of war if upstream countries Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan pursue power generation projects that might alter, or make open to political manipulation, the supply of water needed to irrigate Uzbekistan’s cotton crops. Public anger over a decline in basic services fuelled the unrest that led to the overthrow of President Kurmanbek Bakiyev in April 2010. (See our report Decay and Decline.) Bakiyev sold water to Kazakhstan during a period of electricity shortages in his own country. Across the region corruption and neglect undermine confidence in government and contribute to political discontent.
Water shortages in urban areas large and small agitate communities that are already economically and politically disenfranchised. In border areas in southern Kyrgyzstan, competition over water is an acute conflict trigger. Strategic structures such as dams and pumping stations can also become targets. A clash on 11 January between Kyrgyz and Tajik border guards took place near a reservoir on Kyrgyz territory. If Tajikistan gained control of it, Kyrgyz officials claimed, the Tajik military would be able to cut water supplies to Batken town and the surrounding area. Tajik forces fired mortars at a water pump. Kyrgyz authorities fear this may be just the opener in a series of strikes on strategic water facilities along the disputed border with Tajikistan. As the population along the Kyrgyz-Tajik border grows the risk is greater than ever that a local dispute over resources could rapidly become an international crisis.
Alongside the risk that water could become both the means and end of an armed conflict, at a much lower level water-supply and distribution problems feed simmering resentments. In Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, Central Asia’s most open country, some 400,000 undocumented residents – internal migrants, poorly educated, often unemployed – are a significant destabilizing factor in a state struggling with stark social divisions. The situation in Bishkek is a microcosm of challenges faced across the region. Despite two decades of donor attention to Central Asia’s collapsing infrastructure, fundamental problems remain. Public and private donors should consider whether some forms of engagement are doomed to failure because of a lack of government capacity and an absence of the will to tackle corruption.
Implementing small-scale projects directly with district-level partners can help in bypassing middlemen seeking a cut. The government recognizes the problem, estimating, for example, that up to 70 percent of some $70 million allocated by the Asian Development Bank for water projects between 2000 and 2012 was embezzled.
In the interim, the residents of Bishkek’s unplanned suburbs rely on their own wits and initiative.
A visit to settlements around Bishkek finds dwellings from slum shacks with plastic sheeting for windows to candy-coloured mansions with heavy gates and high walls. These “new districts” (novostroikas) were built in three distinct waves after the fall of the Soviet Union as internal migration dramatically increased the city’s population and the need for housing. According to the mayor’s office in Bishkek, there are 400,000 undocumented residents in the city of 1.3 million. Many novostroikas were built by city planners but others appeared when internal migrants, looking for work in the capital and unable to find affordable shelter, seized plots of land and started building on them. Land rights and allocation under Kyrgyz law are complex, but according to the Kyrgyz constitution each citizen is entitled to a plot of land to use for agriculture or housing – but only in the place in which they are officially registered to live. Newcomers to Bishkek have no such rights as they are not officially registered as residents of the city.
Built adjacent to the city’s rubbish dump, Altyn-Kazyk is one of the poorest of Bishkek’s 48 novostroikas. The government’s refusal to recognize the village means that its inhabitants are effectively second-class citizens. Their lack of official registration means they cannot vote and never appear in a census of the city. They have no access to healthcare and the state will not provide them with infrastructure for water, electricity or transport. After 7 years, Altyn-Kazyk’s residents had electricity installed in 2012  – each family stumped up 5,000 soms ($102) for a private contractor’s fee.
The villagers have no access to water and are forced to make multiple daily trips to pumps in neighbouring Kalys-Ordo, each journey taking up to an hour. Even this arrangement proves precarious, as there is often not enough water for Kalys-Ordo’s own villagers, who sometimes close off their pump. Altyn-Kazyk villagers are now in discussions with a company that has quoted $16,000 to drill a well that would provide clean drinking water.
“Recently, they didn’t want to give us water for 10 days and we had to hire a taxi to get water from another settlement,” says Nazgul Abdrazakova, a 33-year-old Altyn-Kazyk resident, whom we met lugging two 5-litre containers back to her home. “We went protesting on the main road asking for water channels last spring, but we still don’t have water”.
Down rough dirt tracks, we reach the border of Bishkek’s original city plan. On one side of a road is Ak-Bata — no paradise, but it is officially recognised and has water and electricity, albeit no paved streets. On the other side of the road is Adilet, just metres beyond the city’s official border, where 300 residents live in darkness and have to carry their water across the road from Ak-Bata.
“Officially they don’t exist, they are dead souls…all the government needs to do is add it on to the other village – it’s just 3 streets,” argues Zamira Sagynalieva of Arysh, a western-funded NGO that provides aid to novostroika residents.
The authorities refuse to recognise the village because its land was originally bought for agriculture, Sagynalieva says. The woman who owned it at that time divided it up and, without any official paperwork, sold each plot for 5,000 soms.
Officially recognised Ak-Jar has had water since 2011. The pipe provided by the government runs down the main road and originally came out at one central spigot. Since then, the villagers have paid to extend a grid system so that they can each have a pump in their own front yard.
“We have gone through such a difficult time, I wouldn’t wish this on anyone,” says Dilyara Dunganova, a 48-year-old resident. “People get used to everything, but now we are so happy that we have water. We take care of our water pumps, as we know what it is not to have water at all.”
The city’s other novostroikas are generally in better condition. In two slightly more affluent settlements, Ak-Ordo-1 and Ak-Ordo-2, residents inhabit clean, reasonably sized houses. They have electricity and many own cars. Even here, water availability is still patchy. Ak-Ordo-1 has had access since its foundation a decade ago, but pipes to each separate house do not work and villagers have to carry water home from a central pump. In Ak-Ordo-2, a pipe was installed only this spring, funded by the residents themselves. Before, they would order large quantities of poor-quality water intended for construction and boil it before drinking. Even now, the pressure is too low for the pump to work in summer.
Reforming the arduous waiting system for residency registration and plots of land could improve the situation. For now, Sagynalieva of Arysh has no faith in government and is unequivocal when asked how foreign donors or organisations could help improve novostroika residents’ lives: “They shouldn’t give money for infrastructure to the government, they should do it through NGOs; the government will never get round to building roads and water systems.” A successful precedent for this exists.  The Transition and Rehabilitation Alliance for Southern Kyrgyzstan (TASK), a consortium of 15 local and international NGOs, directs EU Commission funding into projects promoting socio-economic development as a means to offset potential security and conflict issues. Last year, the Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED), at TASK’s behest, successfully completed a series of infrastructure projects in southern Kyrgyzstan including the construction and rehabilitation of irrigation ditches and bridges. Funding for the projects came from the EU’s Instrument for Stability (IfS) program, which is permitted to work with not only governments but international organizations and the local community among others. The IfS’s broad reach of potential partners makes it responsive and nimble, especially in countries like Kyrgyzstan where government capacity can be limited and slow moving.
Original Commentary (Across Eurasia)

Central Asia: A Dangerous Thirst | Alina Dabaeva

This piece originally appeared on Crisis Group’s blog, Across Eurasia.

On the grand scale, Central Asia’s water problems have been well documented since the fall of the Soviet Union. Journalists wrote of the apparently inexorable shrinking of the Aral Sea, once one of the four largest lakes in the world; by 2007, at a tenth of its normal size, it had split up into several smaller bodies of water. An excellent view of these broad shifts can be found at Aqueduct’s Water Risk Atlas.

Uzbek President Islam Karimov has warned of war if upstream countries Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan pursue power generation projects that might alter, or make open to political manipulation, the supply of water needed to irrigate Uzbekistan’s cotton crops. Public anger over a decline in basic services fuelled the unrest that led to the overthrow of President Kurmanbek Bakiyev in April 2010. (See our report Decay and Decline.) Bakiyev sold water to Kazakhstan during a period of electricity shortages in his own country. Across the region corruption and neglect undermine confidence in government and contribute to political discontent.

Water shortages in urban areas large and small agitate communities that are already economically and politically disenfranchised. In border areas in southern Kyrgyzstan, competition over water is an acute conflict trigger. Strategic structures such as dams and pumping stations can also become targets. A clash on 11 January between Kyrgyz and Tajik border guards took place near a reservoir on Kyrgyz territory. If Tajikistan gained control of it, Kyrgyz officials claimed, the Tajik military would be able to cut water supplies to Batken town and the surrounding area. Tajik forces fired mortars at a water pump. Kyrgyz authorities fear this may be just the opener in a series of strikes on strategic water facilities along the disputed border with Tajikistan. As the population along the Kyrgyz-Tajik border grows the risk is greater than ever that a local dispute over resources could rapidly become an international crisis.

Alongside the risk that water could become both the means and end of an armed conflict, at a much lower level water-supply and distribution problems feed simmering resentments. In Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, Central Asia’s most open country, some 400,000 undocumented residents – internal migrants, poorly educated, often unemployed – are a significant destabilizing factor in a state struggling with stark social divisions. The situation in Bishkek is a microcosm of challenges faced across the region. Despite two decades of donor attention to Central Asia’s collapsing infrastructure, fundamental problems remain. Public and private donors should consider whether some forms of engagement are doomed to failure because of a lack of government capacity and an absence of the will to tackle corruption.

Implementing small-scale projects directly with district-level partners can help in bypassing middlemen seeking a cut. The government recognizes the problem, estimating, for example, that up to 70 percent of some $70 million allocated by the Asian Development Bank for water projects between 2000 and 2012 was embezzled.

In the interim, the residents of Bishkek’s unplanned suburbs rely on their own wits and initiative.

A visit to settlements around Bishkek finds dwellings from slum shacks with plastic sheeting for windows to candy-coloured mansions with heavy gates and high walls. These “new districts” (novostroikas) were built in three distinct waves after the fall of the Soviet Union as internal migration dramatically increased the city’s population and the need for housing. According to the mayor’s office in Bishkek, there are 400,000 undocumented residents in the city of 1.3 million. Many novostroikas were built by city planners but others appeared when internal migrants, looking for work in the capital and unable to find affordable shelter, seized plots of land and started building on them. Land rights and allocation under Kyrgyz law are complex, but according to the Kyrgyz constitution each citizen is entitled to a plot of land to use for agriculture or housing – but only in the place in which they are officially registered to live. Newcomers to Bishkek have no such rights as they are not officially registered as residents of the city.

Built adjacent to the city’s rubbish dump, Altyn-Kazyk is one of the poorest of Bishkek’s 48 novostroikas. The government’s refusal to recognize the village means that its inhabitants are effectively second-class citizens. Their lack of official registration means they cannot vote and never appear in a census of the city. They have no access to healthcare and the state will not provide them with infrastructure for water, electricity or transport. After 7 years, Altyn-Kazyk’s residents had electricity installed in 2012 – each family stumped up 5,000 soms ($102) for a private contractor’s fee.

The villagers have no access to water and are forced to make multiple daily trips to pumps in neighbouring Kalys-Ordo, each journey taking up to an hour. Even this arrangement proves precarious, as there is often not enough water for Kalys-Ordo’s own villagers, who sometimes close off their pump. Altyn-Kazyk villagers are now in discussions with a company that has quoted $16,000 to drill a well that would provide clean drinking water.

“Recently, they didn’t want to give us water for 10 days and we had to hire a taxi to get water from another settlement,” says Nazgul Abdrazakova, a 33-year-old Altyn-Kazyk resident, whom we met lugging two 5-litre containers back to her home. “We went protesting on the main road asking for water channels last spring, but we still don’t have water”.

Down rough dirt tracks, we reach the border of Bishkek’s original city plan. On one side of a road is Ak-Bata — no paradise, but it is officially recognised and has water and electricity, albeit no paved streets. On the other side of the road is Adilet, just metres beyond the city’s official border, where 300 residents live in darkness and have to carry their water across the road from Ak-Bata.

“Officially they don’t exist, they are dead souls…all the government needs to do is add it on to the other village – it’s just 3 streets,” argues Zamira Sagynalieva of Arysh, a western-funded NGO that provides aid to novostroika residents.

The authorities refuse to recognise the village because its land was originally bought for agriculture, Sagynalieva says. The woman who owned it at that time divided it up and, without any official paperwork, sold each plot for 5,000 soms.

Officially recognised Ak-Jar has had water since 2011. The pipe provided by the government runs down the main road and originally came out at one central spigot. Since then, the villagers have paid to extend a grid system so that they can each have a pump in their own front yard.

“We have gone through such a difficult time, I wouldn’t wish this on anyone,” says Dilyara Dunganova, a 48-year-old resident. “People get used to everything, but now we are so happy that we have water. We take care of our water pumps, as we know what it is not to have water at all.”

The city’s other novostroikas are generally in better condition. In two slightly more affluent settlements, Ak-Ordo-1 and Ak-Ordo-2, residents inhabit clean, reasonably sized houses. They have electricity and many own cars. Even here, water availability is still patchy. Ak-Ordo-1 has had access since its foundation a decade ago, but pipes to each separate house do not work and villagers have to carry water home from a central pump. In Ak-Ordo-2, a pipe was installed only this spring, funded by the residents themselves. Before, they would order large quantities of poor-quality water intended for construction and boil it before drinking. Even now, the pressure is too low for the pump to work in summer.

Reforming the arduous waiting system for residency registration and plots of land could improve the situation. For now, Sagynalieva of Arysh has no faith in government and is unequivocal when asked how foreign donors or organisations could help improve novostroika residents’ lives: “They shouldn’t give money for infrastructure to the government, they should do it through NGOs; the government will never get round to building roads and water systems.” A successful precedent for this exists.  The Transition and Rehabilitation Alliance for Southern Kyrgyzstan (TASK), a consortium of 15 local and international NGOs, directs EU Commission funding into projects promoting socio-economic development as a means to offset potential security and conflict issues. Last year, the Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED), at TASK’s behest, successfully completed a series of infrastructure projects in southern Kyrgyzstan including the construction and rehabilitation of irrigation ditches and bridges. Funding for the projects came from the EU’s Instrument for Stability (IfS) program, which is permitted to work with not only governments but international organizations and the local community among others. The IfS’s broad reach of potential partners makes it responsive and nimble, especially in countries like Kyrgyzstan where government capacity can be limited and slow moving.

Original Commentary (Across Eurasia)

8 Oct

In the End Is the Beginning: Kazakhstan after Nazarbayev | Deirdre Tynan

Kazakhstan has everything going for it: enormous natural resources from oil and gas to gold, uranium and rare earth metals; a young, multi-lingual population; and thousands of young foreign trained graduates, who return home every year under President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s Bolashak scholarship program.

But behind Nazarbayev’s strong leadership are weak institutions, a puppet parliament, fettered media and security services prone to excessive force, as demonstrated by the events in the oil town of Zhanaozen in 2011, when 16 striking oil workers were shot dead during protests on the nation’s Independence Day.

FULL POST (Across Eurasia)

7 Oct
Heavy hangs the head | The Economist
THE man in the photo is immune from prosecution. Special laws protect his property and that of his family. In his country, Kazakhstan, it is illegal to insult the man or to deface his image. Nursultan Nazarbayev is, according to the constitution, not only the president but also the “Leader of the Nation” and he can stand for re-election as long as he lives. Since there’s never been any serious challenge, many expect Mr Nazarbayev, a 73-year-old former steelworker, to stay in office until he perishes from this earth (he is still mortal, last we checked).
The president is genuinely popular, winning credit for the political stability and rising standard of living in his oil-rich nation. A generous visitor might suppose that is why his photo appears on billboards all over the place, strongman-style. With more than two decades at the helm, Mr Nazarbayev has not built a system based on rule of law; instead he oversees a patronage network in which he stands as the final arbiter. It’s not just that Kazakhstan has never held a free and fair election. There are no institutions to manage a transition, which makes it likely that the country’s next leadership will be determined by struggles within the power elite—if that is not happening already, behind-the-scenes.
FULL ARTICLE (The Economist)

Heavy hangs the head | The Economist

THE man in the photo is immune from prosecution. Special laws protect his property and that of his family. In his country, Kazakhstan, it is illegal to insult the man or to deface his image. Nursultan Nazarbayev is, according to the constitution, not only the president but also the “Leader of the Nation” and he can stand for re-election as long as he lives. Since there’s never been any serious challenge, many expect Mr Nazarbayev, a 73-year-old former steelworker, to stay in office until he perishes from this earth (he is still mortal, last we checked).

The president is genuinely popular, winning credit for the political stability and rising standard of living in his oil-rich nation. A generous visitor might suppose that is why his photo appears on billboards all over the place, strongman-style. With more than two decades at the helm, Mr Nazarbayev has not built a system based on rule of law; instead he oversees a patronage network in which he stands as the final arbiter. It’s not just that Kazakhstan has never held a free and fair election. There are no institutions to manage a transition, which makes it likely that the country’s next leadership will be determined by struggles within the power elite—if that is not happening already, behind-the-scenes.

FULL ARTICLE (The Economist)

30 Sep
Kazakhstan: Waiting for Change
Bishkek/Brussels | 30 Sep 2013
In its latest report, Kazakhstan: Waiting for Change, the International Crisis Group examines the prospects for stability as the era of President Nursultan Nazarbayev, 73, who has ruled for more than twenty years, comes to a close. His government has spurred the country’s role in the global energy sector but left it with weak political institutions, corruption, censored media and frequent infringement of human rights. Popular resentment is slowly growing. Consolidating the state’s stability, in particular through a smooth succession, is urgent in a situation of internal but also external challenges. The 2014 pullout of international forces from Afghanistan could well further weaken stability in Central Asia as a whole. Young Kazakhs, like their peers in neighbouring states, have been drawn to the jihadi struggle and may be tempted to bring it back home. 
The report’s major findings are:
Since Kazakhstan hosted the 2010 OSCE summit, it has enacted laws that systematically curtail political and personal liberties. Opposition politicians, the media and civil society face fines and imprisonment for criticising the government. The concentration of power in the hands of a small group, the weakness of the political institutions and the overwhelming concentration of economic growth in the cities of Astana and Almaty threaten to undo gains made in the past two decades.
Young Kazakhs, especially in the western regions, are turning increasingly to Islam as a means of political expression and a source of identity distinct from the self-advancement they associate with the ruling classes.
In a post-Nazarbayev era, an individual or group will likely need to tighten control in order to consolidate power. Kazakhstan’s political institutions are not designed for competition or pluralism. There is a strong danger of infighting, and thus further instability, among the political and economic elites. In the event of popular protests, demonstrators would run the risk of exciting security forces already prone to deadly crackdowns.
Nazarbayev should swiftly put in place and explain his succession policy. The West should push harder for compliance with basic human rights norms. Without meaningful progress here, Kazakhstan’s candidacy for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council for 2017-2018 should not be supported. 
“If it doesn’t make a significant effort to push forward with political, social and economic reforms, Kazakhstan risks becoming just another authoritarian regime that squandered the advantages bestowed on it by abundant natural resources”, says Deirdre Tynan, Crisis Group’s Central Asia Project Director. 
“Kazakhstan needs a stable system of government harnessed to an independent parliament and judicial system that works because it has inherent integrity, not because a supreme leader is pulling it along”, says Paul Quinn-Judge, Crisis Group’s Program Director for Europe and Central Asia.“If there is a lack of political will to do this, Kazakhstan will face a period of stagnation and ideological upheaval that will move the country backwards”.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 
Photo: Flickr/Utenriksdept

Kazakhstan: Waiting for Change

Bishkek/Brussels | 30 Sep 2013

In its latest report, Kazakhstan: Waiting for Change, the International Crisis Group examines the prospects for stability as the era of President Nursultan Nazarbayev, 73, who has ruled for more than twenty years, comes to a close. His government has spurred the country’s role in the global energy sector but left it with weak political institutions, corruption, censored media and frequent infringement of human rights. Popular resentment is slowly growing. Consolidating the state’s stability, in particular through a smooth succession, is urgent in a situation of internal but also external challenges. The 2014 pullout of international forces from Afghanistan could well further weaken stability in Central Asia as a whole. Young Kazakhs, like their peers in neighbouring states, have been drawn to the jihadi struggle and may be tempted to bring it back home. 

The report’s major findings are:

  • Since Kazakhstan hosted the 2010 OSCE summit, it has enacted laws that systematically curtail political and personal liberties. Opposition politicians, the media and civil society face fines and imprisonment for criticising the government. The concentration of power in the hands of a small group, the weakness of the political institutions and the overwhelming concentration of economic growth in the cities of Astana and Almaty threaten to undo gains made in the past two decades.
  • Young Kazakhs, especially in the western regions, are turning increasingly to Islam as a means of political expression and a source of identity distinct from the self-advancement they associate with the ruling classes.
  • In a post-Nazarbayev era, an individual or group will likely need to tighten control in order to consolidate power. Kazakhstan’s political institutions are not designed for competition or pluralism. There is a strong danger of infighting, and thus further instability, among the political and economic elites. In the event of popular protests, demonstrators would run the risk of exciting security forces already prone to deadly crackdowns.
  • Nazarbayev should swiftly put in place and explain his succession policy. The West should push harder for compliance with basic human rights norms. Without meaningful progress here, Kazakhstan’s candidacy for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council for 2017-2018 should not be supported. 

“If it doesn’t make a significant effort to push forward with political, social and economic reforms, Kazakhstan risks becoming just another authoritarian regime that squandered the advantages bestowed on it by abundant natural resources”, says Deirdre Tynan, Crisis Group’s Central Asia Project Director. 

“Kazakhstan needs a stable system of government harnessed to an independent parliament and judicial system that works because it has inherent integrity, not because a supreme leader is pulling it along”, says Paul Quinn-Judge, Crisis Group’s Program Director for Europe and Central Asia.“If there is a lack of political will to do this, Kazakhstan will face a period of stagnation and ideological upheaval that will move the country backwards”.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 

Photo: Flickr/Utenriksdept

17 Sep
Central Asia: China Flexes Political and Economic Muscle | Joanna Lillis
Chinese President Xi Jinping is wrapping up a 10-day tour through Central Asia, having vacuumed up energy resources while digging into Beijing’s deep pockets to dispense largess and generate goodwill.
Xi’s visit to four Central Asian states (excluding Tajikistan) has reaffirmed Beijing’s rising clout in this energy-rich region, situated on China’s sensitive Western flank. Central Asian leaders — Kazakhstan’s Nursultan Nazarbayev; Kyrgyzstan’s Almazbek Atambayev; Turkmenistan’s Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov; and Uzbekistan’s Islam Karimov — welcomed Xi with open arms and barely a backward glance at Moscow, the region’s traditional colonial overlord. Russian leader Vladimir Putin has worked assiduously to try to prevent Central Asia’s tilt toward China, but Xi’s tour showed that Russia lacks the economic weapons to counter Beijing’s diplomacy in the region.
FULL ARTICLE (Euraisanet)
Photo: David Strakopf/Flickr

Central Asia: China Flexes Political and Economic Muscle | Joanna Lillis

Chinese President Xi Jinping is wrapping up a 10-day tour through Central Asia, having vacuumed up energy resources while digging into Beijing’s deep pockets to dispense largess and generate goodwill.

Xi’s visit to four Central Asian states (excluding Tajikistan) has reaffirmed Beijing’s rising clout in this energy-rich region, situated on China’s sensitive Western flank. Central Asian leaders — Kazakhstan’s Nursultan Nazarbayev; Kyrgyzstan’s Almazbek Atambayev; Turkmenistan’s Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov; and Uzbekistan’s Islam Karimov — welcomed Xi with open arms and barely a backward glance at Moscow, the region’s traditional colonial overlord. Russian leader Vladimir Putin has worked assiduously to try to prevent Central Asia’s tilt toward China, but Xi’s tour showed that Russia lacks the economic weapons to counter Beijing’s diplomacy in the region.

FULL ARTICLE (Euraisanet)

Photo: David Strakopf/Flickr

13 Sep
Rising China, sinking Russia | The Economist
LESS than a decade ago little doubt hung over where the newly independent states of Central Asia had to pump their huge supplies of oil and gas: Russia, their former imperial overlord, dominated their energy infrastructure and markets. Yet today, when a new field comes on stream, the pipelines head east, to China. As if to underline the point, this week China’s president, Xi Jinping, swept through Central Asia, gobbling up energy deals and promising billions in investment. His tour left no doubts as to the region’s new economic superpower.
In Turkmenistan, already China’s largest foreign supplier of natural gas, Mr Xi inaugurated production at the world’s second-biggest gasfield, Galkynysh. It will help triple Chinese imports from the country. In Kazakhstan $30 billion of announced deals included a stake in Kashagan, the world’s largest oil discovery in recent decades. In Uzbekistan Mr Xi and his host, President Islam Karimov, unveiled $15 billion in oil, gas and uranium deals, though details in this opaque country were few.
FULL ARTICLE (The Economist)
Photo: Mark Turner/Flickr

Rising China, sinking Russia | The Economist

LESS than a decade ago little doubt hung over where the newly independent states of Central Asia had to pump their huge supplies of oil and gas: Russia, their former imperial overlord, dominated their energy infrastructure and markets. Yet today, when a new field comes on stream, the pipelines head east, to China. As if to underline the point, this week China’s president, Xi Jinping, swept through Central Asia, gobbling up energy deals and promising billions in investment. His tour left no doubts as to the region’s new economic superpower.

In Turkmenistan, already China’s largest foreign supplier of natural gas, Mr Xi inaugurated production at the world’s second-biggest gasfield, Galkynysh. It will help triple Chinese imports from the country. In Kazakhstan $30 billion of announced deals included a stake in Kashagan, the world’s largest oil discovery in recent decades. In Uzbekistan Mr Xi and his host, President Islam Karimov, unveiled $15 billion in oil, gas and uranium deals, though details in this opaque country were few.

FULL ARTICLE (The Economist)

Photo: Mark Turner/Flickr

1 Mar
"It will almost surely need to use at least more active diplomatic and economic engagement to grapple with challenges that pose threats to its economic interests and regional stability."

—from Crisis Group’s most recent report, China’s Central Asia Problem

"This concern has led Chinese policymakers to consider engagement with elements of the Taliban, in an effort to induce them to scale back their perceived support for Uighur separatist groups, such as the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM)."

—from Crisis Group’s most recent report, China’s Central Asia Problem

"China’s well-trained and well-informed Central Asia specialists are among those who fear that a disorderly or too rapid withdrawal of NATO troops from Afghanistan could lead to serious regional unrest – civil strife possibly, the dramatic weakening of central governments, or the escalation of proxy battles among Afghanistan’s neighbours leading to their destabilisation and, most worryingly, Pakistan’s."

—from Crisis Group’s most recent report, China’s Central Asia Problem