View Full Version : The New 'Great Game': state & non-state competition

05-17-2006, 02:19 AM
Central Asia Emerges
As Strategic Battleground (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114773013006053364.html?mod=todays_us_page_one)

Central Asia, site of the 19th-century "Great Game" for supremacy between the British Empire and czarist Russia, is emerging with its oil and gas riches as the first strategic battleground of the "Multipolar Era" among the U.S., China and Moscow.

The Cold War ended in 1990, and the dominance of the U.S. since then is fast eroding. Now a globally rising China, an oil-intoxicated Russia and the U.S. are locking horns in a struggle for resources and influence in Central Asia, a region that regained its global strategic importance after its five states gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Dick Cheney got plenty of press for his recent Russia-bashing speech in independent Lithuania, a former Soviet state. Yet of greater note was the vice president's less-ballyhooed next stop in Central Asia's Kazakhstan, where he signaled a U.S. policy shift beyond rhetoric to actions aimed at countering what he called Russian President Vladimir Putin's use of oil and gas as "tools of intimidation or blackmail, either by supply manipulation or attempts to monopolize transportation."

(note) It always been a major battleground

05-17-2006, 03:03 AM
...is emerging with its oil and gas riches as the first strategic battleground of the "Multipolar Era" among the U.S., China and Moscow...
Sheesh, talk about old news. Or maybe I should say the writer is trying to make a tired line interesting by massaging a bit more currency into it...the "Great Game" in the context of post-Soviet Central Asia has been beaten to death by a Horde of geo-pol authors since the collapse of the USSR in '91.

...how 'bout this one: Africa emerges as Strategic Battleground (http://yaleglobal.yale.edu/display.article?id=7325)...

05-17-2006, 02:28 PM
Sheesh, talk about old news. Or maybe I should say the writer is trying to make a tired line interesting by massaging a bit more currency into it...the "Great Game" in the context of post-Soviet Central Asia has been beaten to death by a Horde of geo-pol authors since the collapse of the USSR in '91.

True, but one of the best books on this issue is by Ahmed Rashid 'Taliban - Islam, Oil and the New Great Game in Central Asia'. Read it a while back so my memory of it is a bit fuzzy, but does have a lot of good background to the conflict within Afghanistan and the wider geo-political implications for the Middle East.

05-18-2006, 05:03 PM
Special Report: Russia (http://www.guardian.co.uk/russia/article/0,,1772611,00.html)

There are nine current and planned gas pipelines, including Blue Stream, the $3.4bn (£1.8bn) network operated by Russia's Gazprom and Italy's ENI that runs for 400km along the bottom of the Black Sea. Another, much favoured by the European commission, is the Nabucco project costing $4.4bn and managed by Austria's OMV. This one passes gas from central Asia - Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan - to central Europe.
There are the same number of oil pipelines, including the $3bn BTC line from Baku to Ceyhan in Turkey, spearheaded by BP, which runs for 1,100 miles underground and will be formally opened in Ceyhan in July. This project, first endorsed by the former US president Bill Clinton, is the pet project of the US state department in its renewed power struggle, in both senses, with the Kremlin. US special forces have trained 2,000 Georgian soldiers in anti-terrorist techniques to protect the pipeline, a target if America ever engaged militarily with Iran, from saboteurs.
It is estimated that Turkey will carry 200bn barrels of crude oil and 18 trillion cubic metres of natural gas just from the Caspian to Europe and other markets. Agata Loskot, of Warsaw's Centre for Eastern Studies, says the country can also become a corridor for bringing oil and gas from Iraq (if the Kurdish issue can be resolved peacefully) and other parts of the Middle East, with a (readily sabotaged) pipeline already running from Kirkuk to Ceyhan.

05-28-2006, 03:50 AM
Terror alert as Caspian oil pipeline opens (http://www.guardian.co.uk/oil/story/0,,1784710,00.html)

In the foothills of the Caucasus mountains, a long line of broken mud cuts across the meadows. If you go anywhere near it, camouflaged guards carrying automatic weapons emerge from the forest beyond.
These guards in the Borjomi region of Georgia - trained by US army and SAS veterans - are pawns in a new great game gripping Central Asia: their job is to protect the oil pipeline buried 10ft below.
'A terrorist attack is the greatest threat we face,' says the guards' commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Giorgi Pantskhava, an energetic Georgian in desert fatigues and aviator shades.

The $4bn (£2.2bn) BTC - Baku Tbilisi Ceyhan - pipeline comes on stream today It is key in American plans to reduce dependency on Opec oil producers in the turbulent Middle East. Pumping oil 1,000 miles from the Caspian sea to the Mediterranean through Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, it will avoid Russia - increasingly seen by the US as a resurgent superpower prepared to use control of energy resources as a political weapon.

Keep ignoring me. Just keep ignoring me....

10-16-2006, 03:43 PM
A piece of the "big picture" that requires consideration when looking at Afghanistan...

CACI, Oct 06: State Weakness, Organized Crime and Corruption in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan (http://www.silkroadstudies.org/new/docs/Silkroadpapers/0610EMarat.pdf)

The Joint Center’s research on narcotics, organized crime and security in Eurasia has been developing since 2003. Within the framework of this larger project, one of the major findings has been the linkage of state weakness and the development of organized crime. This linkage, involving a variety of relations between the narcotics industry and state officials and bodies, threatens all states of the region, though its effect is disproportionate on small and weak states near Afghanistan, the world’s main producer of heroin. As such, this report by the Joint Center’s Research Fellow Dr. Erica Marat aspires to shed light on the two states perhaps most affected by this problem: Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. As Dr. Marat shows, the interaction between organized crime and the state takes different shapers depending on the political and economic realities of a country at a given time. This study will contribute significantly to a better understanding of the narcotics problem in Central Asia. Moreover, the study also makes a significant contribution to the theoretical literature on the linkage of organized crime and politics...

02-12-2007, 01:09 PM
"Criminal state of play - An examination of state-crime relations in post-Soviet Union Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan."


03-23-2007, 09:30 PM
SSI, Mar 07: US Interests in Central Asia and the Challenges to Them (http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pdffiles/PUB758.pdf)

...the policy process, including the interagency process, with regard to Central Asia and many other issues, e.g., Korea and Russia, and security cooperation in general, is broken. Indeed, some analysts and observers believe that there is no such thing as a regular policy process, and that this has happened because the administration prefers it that way. Often the Pentagon was sought to arrogate ever more control of foreign policy under its auspices and take a hard line in so doing or else administration officials are divided against each other with no clear line being able to emerge. Or alternatively, the State Department invokes democratization and democracy as absolutes and elevates values to interests, e.g., that the main agenda item in regard to Central Asia is democracy, not security interests, thus blocking consideration of other alternatives. Indeed democratization trumps the latter in its view....

05-25-2007, 01:29 PM
ICG, 24 May 07: Central Asia's Energy Risks (http://www.crisisgroup.org/library/documents/asia/central_asia/133_central_asia_s_energy_risks.pdf)

...The three hydrocarbon exporters in the region are all suffering from varying degrees of the oil curse. In Kazakhstan this has come in the form of macroeconomic problems, corruption and inequality. In Turkmenistan, oil and gas allowed for the development of one of the most dictatorial regimes of recent decades. In Uzbekistan, gas revenues have helped to sustain one of the most brutal police states on earth. In the long-term, the prospects for stability are not good in any of these nations just as other major energy producers around the world have suffered sustained unrest. Although there have been disputes over hydrocarbon fields in the Caspian, energy has not proven to be a cause for conflict amongst the three Central Asian exporting states. Rather, although they still depend on shared infrastructure, they have taken divergent paths in the development of their industries. The dangers are within each country....

09-18-2007, 06:33 PM
The Jamestown Foundation's Eurasia Daily Monitor, 18 Sep 07:

Kazakhstan's Cadets Prefer Belarus to America (http://jamestown.org/edm/article.php?article_id=2372430)

Kazakhstan has strengthened its security ties with Washington since 9/11 in order to maximize the numbers of officers from Kazakhstan’s armed forces who receive military training and education in the United States. Indeed, the U.S. Department of Defense has used this as an engagement tool to develop further the existing bilateral military assistance relationship. Pentagon analysts and U.S. diplomats in Kazakhstan have argued that programs such as International Military Education and Training (IMET) (http://www.dsca.osd.mil/home/international_military_education_training.htm) have yielded a good return on the investment of U.S. money into the military structures of Kazakhstan.....

....The statistics are alarming; recent reporting observed that out of 250 officers who received an education in the United States, 110 have already quit the military, citing “various reasons.” Despite a contractual obligation placed on graduates of foreign universities to serve a minimum of 10 years, many are finding loopholes in order to exit early. There is little will to enforce these commitments on the part of officials. Kazakh military servicemen attend courses in 160 specialist fields at 55 foreign universities. Around 550 people are sent abroad for education annually. Of these, 300 are servicemen being sent for full-time education, and 250 are officers sent for short-term courses. Approximately one-third of the graduates of foreign courses enter into the service ranks of the armed forces in Kazakhstan. Although retention is significantly higher in the cases of high-ranking officers attending short-term courses abroad, the real problem exists within the junior and middle-ranking officers; here the hemorrhaging appears greatest.....

09-18-2007, 07:48 PM
The Jamestown Foundation's Eurasia Daily Monitor, 18 Sep 07:

Kazakhstan's Cadets Prefer Belarus to America (http://jamestown.org/edm/article.php?article_id=2372430)

Most of the Iraqis that went through our staff and war colleges last year didn't go back. There's several million tax dollars down the drain.

01-07-2008, 02:32 PM
CACI, 6 Jan 08: State Propagated Narratives About a National Defender in Central Asian States (http://www.silkroadstudies.org/new/docs/publications/2007/em0801statepropagated.pdf)

This article examines the relationship between narratives propagated by the state about a historical national hero and a contemporary soldier's professional ideology in the post-Soviet Central Asian countries (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan). It argues that while elite-maintained mass publishing of cohesive narratives about a vividly drawn historical persona, male and warrior, trigger at raising a loyal soldier unified with his compatriots on the basis of cultural values and objects of loyalty, state elites seek to link a contemporary army recruit with his historical predecessors who fought for unity, integrity, and dominance of the nation. But the link inevitably merges with ethno-centric ideas of protecting the cultural community identified with the narrative, as opposed to a physical entity within the state borders. State elites reinforce the significance of military experience of the titular ethnic entity in accordance with their own political interests. Narratives about a national defender articulate what the political elites expect from the military service but are restrained from depicting in official policy documents. In order to reach effective results, the Central Asian states retained the same Soviet tools of cultivating patriotism as the basis for the army's internal discipline, but primordial characters have also been incorporated into the indoctrination.....
Complete 14 page paper at the link.

02-22-2008, 01:52 PM
CACI, 20 Feb 08: The Changing Dynamics of State-Crime Relations in Kyrgyzstan (http://www.cacianalyst.org/?q=node/4796)

.....Today, about a dozen high-ranking government officials are in control of Kyrgyzstan’s major economic sectors. They are not countered by either the parliament or civil society. They are also no longer afraid of intimidation from the criminal underworld, and are able to significantly influence security and law enforcement structures. Future economic policies concerning the remaining state enterprises are likely to be informally redistributed among this limited group of people. This marks the emergence of a new type of state-crime relationship in Kyrgyzstan, where public figures are responsible for organizing major crimes in the country. Such a state of play has regional implications as well. If Kyrgyzstan’s energy sector further deteriorates, neighboring states will suffer from shortages of water and electricity. Kyrgyzstan is also likely to increasingly serve as a transit zone for drug trafficking, with illegal deals possibly brokered at the top levels of government, bypassing law enforcement agencies. As such, Kyrgyzstan is on track to a situation reminiscent of that in Tajikistan where the bulk of Afghan heroin appears to be smuggled by state actors and institutions.

02-20-2009, 01:08 PM
SSI, 11 Feb 09: Kazakhstan's Defense Policy: An Assessment of the Trends (http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pubs/download.cfm?q=904)

The U.S. war on terrorism, with its deployment of military assets within Central Asia in support of ongoing antiterrorist operations in Afghanistan, ensures the long-term strategic importance of Central Asia in U.S. policy planning. Kazakhstan, with its vast hydrocarbon reserves combined with its high profile support for the war on terrorism, will play a key part in these calculations. As Kazakhstan has developed the capabilities of its armed forces, with American and allied assistance, questions arise over how in the future it may play a more active part either in antiterrorist or in peace support operations. Kazakhstan is also exploring such issues in the context of its forthcoming chairmanship of the Organization for Security Cooperation in Europe in 2010, which may indicate that Astana would like to raise its international security profile further still.

In this monograph, the author argues that Kazakhstan’s armed forces, though subject to many structural changes, have not yet experienced systemic military reform. He assesses the achievements and setbacks of U.S. and NATO defense assistance to the country, while also showing that Kazakhstan remains deeply linked in close defense and security partnership with Russia. He suggests greater sophistication and follow-up is needed from Western assistance programs to ensure that Kazakhstan successfully gains genuine military capabilities and the type of armed forces it needs within the region.....

George L. Singleton
02-20-2009, 05:27 PM
U.S. and NATO military assistance in Central
Asia as a whole and especially in Kazakhstan
needs to be underpinned by a sophisticated,
well-developed, and open public relations
campaign that circumvents political pressure
from Moscow, and in fact addresses Russia’s
concerns about the motives and intentions in
Western assistance programs.

Would the US/NATO do better to seek to work openly in league with Russia in this and all realted nations cases, to include Georgia?

Aren't we "over promotion" open politicial antagonism between these nations leadership, civilian and military, and Russia?

Surely with all the logistical difficulties we "suddenly" have with Russia both up front and in the background giving us "fits" re airlift and such (air lift basing and transit of supplies needs) this type of thinking on the part of NATO/US invites problems with Russia today?

The old addage for our hardliners, of whom there are still many, still applies: "Better the devil you know than the devil you don't know."

My view after looking over this adroit article by the analyst from Kent, England, whose Oxford education suits his writing well.

06-05-2009, 01:53 PM
SSI, 1 Jun 09: Challenges and Opportunities for the Obama Administration in Central Asia (http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pdffiles/PUB921.pdf)

In this monograph, Dr. Stephen Blank (http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pubs/people.cfm?authorID=21) argues that a winning strategy in Afghanistan depends as well upon the systematic leveraging of the opportunity provided by that road and a new coordinated nonmilitary approach to Central Asia. That approach would rely heavily on improved coordination at home and the more effective leveraging of our superior economic power in Central Asia to help stabilize the region so that it provides a secure rear to Afghanistan. In this fashion we would help Central Asia meet the challenges of extremism, of economic decline due to the global economic crisis, and thus help provide political stability in states that are likely to be challenged by the confluence of those trends.

12-16-2009, 04:30 AM
ICG, 15 Dec 09: Central Asia: Islamists in Prison (http://www.crisisgroup.org/library/documents/asia/central_asia/b97_central_asia___islamists_in_prison.pdf)

....The struggle in the region’s prisons is a microcosm of the broader struggle throughout Central Asia, as often incompetent and usually corrupt political regimes scramble to respond to the declining economic, social and security conditions in their countries. Prison is only the first step for many Hizb ut-Tahrir (http://english.hizbuttahrir.org/) members and other Islamists in their struggle to restore the caliphate, but has proved a valuable training ground. They are cleverly exploiting the flaws and weaknesses of prison services that are undermined by corruption, low-quality personnel and a lack of support from their respective governments. The leadership of prison systems in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan (http://merln.ndu.edu/archive/icg/CentralAsia16Aug06.pdf) seems to be losing control inside the barbed wire. The resources of both criminals and Islamists are growing; prison administrators are running out of options. Even the use of force no longer works.

The growing numbers of Islamists in prison mean that more inmates, often with a record of violence, are drawn into the Islamist ideological orbit. In the future they may apply these skills, either in prison or outside, to the promotion of their new faith. Prisons need funding, advice, assistance and close attention – from foreign governments, concerned NGOs and international organisations. They are not receiving it, and are slipping further into crisis. As a blatantly corrupt part of a political system that is increasingly viewed by outside funders as among the most venal in the world, Central Asian prisons are unlikely to get any assistance from the international community....

Watcher In The Middle
01-22-2010, 03:00 AM
How about a new chapter, which has the potential to raise some very interesting considerations down the road....

How about completion of Stage I of the East Siberian-Pacific Ocean Pipeline (ESPO) in December, 2009:

How Russia Is About to Dramatically Change the World
Dated January 5, 2010 | By: Robert Morley. From theTrumpet.com

In a remote corner of the world, a port bristles with cranes, smokestacks, mammoth ships—and trouble for Europe.

Over the next few days, Russia will change the world. It has completed a new oil pipeline and port complex that sets Russia up to become a more powerful oil exporter than Saudi Arabia. The ramifications for Europe and Asia are profound: The shape of the global economy—and the global balance of power—will be altered forever.

December 28 (2009) was a big day of ceremony in Russia. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin pushed a button that transformed global oil dynamics—especially for Asia and Europe. The button released thousands of barrels of Siberian crude into a waiting Russian supertanker and heralded the opening of Russia’s first modern Pacific-based oil export facilities.

The multibillion-dollar, state-of-the-art oil terminal was a “great New Year present for Russia,” Putin said during the inauguration. The strategic terminal, located in the city of Kozmino on the coast of the Sea of Japan, is one of the “biggest projects in contemporary Russia” he said, not only in “modern Russia,” but “the former Soviet Union too.”

LInk to full article (http://www.thetrumpet.com/index.php?q=6872.5382.0.0)

Lot of hype in the article, so I look to wikipedia. Here's the factual information:
ESPO Pipeline - Wikipedia link (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_Siberia_%E2%80%93_Pacific_Ocean_oil_pipeli ne)

Just some thoughts - the biggest (but least obvious winner, apart from Russia, and then China) in this could be Japan, but also South Korea.

The biggest 'troublemaker' who could really make out in this whole deal could be the DPRK (North Korea). They always need energy, and right now that means China. There could be a new rube at the table, flush with energy, and I could see the DPRK trying to fleece the new guy at the table - "We'll be good, but we have energy needs, and you really want to have good relations with us - Right?"

The biggest (and maybe, least obvious loser) in this whole play could be Iran. Russia could easily steal a substantial portion of Iran's current Chinese market (4-5 days to transport vrs. 2+ weeks), and what are the Iranians going to do? They try & bust Russia's chops, Russia tells the US & Western allies to go ahead and nail Iran's hide to the wall and they'll just kick back and watch (and laugh where nobody can see them). Think the Chinese are going to stand up for the Iranians when they can instead get more oil exported from Russia? Doubt it.

This (pus Iraq becoming a player) could really put Iran into a box where their oil based geopolitical options start to disappear.

Thoughts? What about effects on the US?

01-22-2010, 06:30 PM
I think those cascading impacts are plausible, but not necessarily the most likely...

China would certainly find the Russian crude attractive, but i wonder if they'd allow themselves to become beholden to a traditional rival for it's energy needs... they might as likely forego the substantial participation with Russian energy so as to maintain their influence in both the ME and Africa... I'd hazard a guess they saw this effort coming to fruition, if they were so inclined to import from Russia... their latest energy efforts seem less than good bang for the buck... who knows maybe they need it all...

If Russia wants that much more significant voice at the 6 party talks I'd be surprised... they don't want to be dealt out, but I don't think they are looking to supplant China as North's sugar daddy of choice...

What I see these developments as is pretty much limited to proping up Putin's version of Russia for a few more decades... they seriously need funds... this will provide funds... they get to continue to play modern day tsar...

I think REAL power is going to reside with the world leader of next generation energy technology, but to be honest I'm not that knowledgeable on such topics (intellectual honesty would have forced me to place that disclaimer at the front of this post - luckily I have none of that):D

01-24-2010, 05:06 AM
The biggest (and maybe, least obvious loser) in this whole play could be Iran. Russia could easily steal a substantial portion of Iran's current Chinese market (4-5 days to transport vrs. 2+ weeks), and what are the Iranians going to do? They try & bust Russia's chops, Russia tells the US & Western allies to go ahead and nail Iran's hide to the wall and they'll just kick back and watch (and laugh where nobody can see them). Think the Chinese are going to stand up for the Iranians when they can instead get more oil exported from Russia? Doubt it.

If the Russians start selling more to East Asia and less to Europe, the Iranians can just sell to Europe. Given the supply/demand equation in energy markets these days, anyone with oil and gas to sell is going to find a buyer.

Given the oft-demonstrated Russian inclination to use energy supplies for diplomatic leverage, nobody will want to be dependent on them. They are just trying to diversify their markets, just as many consumers (notably China) try to diversify their suppliers. I don't see it as a game-changer.

The real question with Russia, for me, is whether they will be able to muster sufficient investment, domestic and foreign, to sustain and expand production. Their policies to date have not been notably investor-friendly.

Watcher In The Middle
01-24-2010, 11:47 PM
Originally posted by Dayuhan:

Given the supply/demand equation in energy markets these days, anyone with oil and gas to sell is going to find a buyer.

Not sure I'd agree with that. There's quite a number of oil tankers out there being used as floating storage for oil. And a fair amount of it is of Iranian origin. Don't have current numbers, but does not look like it is decreasing. I'm sure it will change at some point, but I'd bet it's going to take longer than most people think.

Originally posted by Dayuhan:

Given the oft-demonstrated Russian inclination to use energy supplies for diplomatic leverage, nobody will want to be dependent on them

Very true - and quite understandable. But from the other side of the ledger, currently China is substantially dependent upon ME oil, and much of that from Iran. Every time Iran creates a stir in the Persian Gulf, the PRC is on the hook as one of the elders, trying to keep the kids under control, and getting them back to playing nice with each other. The reality is, your comment above sums up perfectly the exact situation the China is in right now regarding Iran (substitute "Iranian" for "Russian").

They got to play the role, because it's all about their (China's) economy - but it's got to get old really quick. Got to keep the oil flowing. So, they get out from under the current situation by diversifing their suppliers.

And when the ESPO pipeline project will eventually (Stage 3) get to 1.6 mil Bbl. per day with direct port access to both the Sea of Japan and land access to the Chinese border, well, that means that China, Japan, and South Korea all have substantially diversified their petroleum supply, with the ME being the biggest loser.

Doing this also gives China, and especially Russia, a substantive change in their relationship with Iran. It almost seems like the Iranians seem to enjoy being able to use both China and/or Russia as their foil in their dealings with the West. Now, I'd bet that there's been more than a few times where both the Russians and the Chinese have enjoyed that, but it's "up to a point". The concept of being pushed into being a player in situations created by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is not likely to be particularly comforting to either the Russian or Chinese governments.


01-25-2010, 08:36 AM
The geography of Russian oil production is changing rapidly: the West Siberian fields are being depleted, with most new production coming from East Siberia. There's an obvious geographic advantage in piping East Siberian oil to markets in East Asia. Of course more Russian oil going to East Asia means less going to Europe, and I'd expect Europe to make up for any reduction in Asian demand for ME oil. Given declining production in traditional American suppliers Mexico and Venezuela, the US is also likely to be a lasting market for ME oil

It is possible that a severe double-dip recession could drive another oil glut, which would have a major impact on the ME political stability equation, but it doesn't seem likely to me. Might want to take that one up with the "peak oil" enthusiasts, who see quite the opposite of a glut on the horizon!

Oil is an almost infinitely fungible commodity, with transport cost a minimal percentage of final landed cost. If, for example, Nigeria had a revolution tomorrow and stopped producing, Nigeria's customers would simply buy their oil elsewhere, albeit at a higher price. If hypothetical country x currently buys all their oil from Nigeria, they are not "dependent" per se on Nigeria for their oil, since they can just as easily buy elsewhere.

Many, probably most, oil producers, have security issues, and those issues concern all oil consumers, whether or not they buy from any given supplier. The US doesn't buy from Iran, but if Iran stops producing the US will be affected, because the people who do buy from Iran will be out bidding for oil from US suppliers, who like everyone else will sell to the highest bidder.

For me the pipeline is likely to cause some shifts in where different parties buy, but probably not to cause any major changes in the supply/demand equation.

12-24-2010, 03:24 PM
FIIA, 15 Dec 10: Controlling Borderlands? New Perspectives on State Peripheries in Southern Central Asia and Northern Afghanistan (http://www.upi-fiia.fi/assets/publications/UPI_FIIA_26_Parham_web.pdf)

As its premise, this report supports the notion that life in a state’s border region is closely entwined with life within the two neighbouring states simultaneously rather than just one state: networks snake back and forth across borders, economic exchange makes use of a borderline, neighbouring political systems influence domestic policy, and local political negotiation employs the presence of an international boundary in sometimes surprising ways. Thus, for example, we are able to appreciate the ways in which political upheaval in Kyrgyzstan fundamentally affects the socio-economic opportunities of ethnic Kyrgyz in neighbouring Tajikistan; or how the ‘pacification’ of Afghanistan influences the new connectivity of the Pamir region. In other words, a state’s border policy never takes place in a socio-political vacuum. Borderlanders, that is, those groups living in the vicinity of a border, do not simply accept rhetorics of control by a state and reorientate their lives along permissible avenues of exchange. They can adapt to or struggle against this rhetoric, but their social networks transcend official categories demarcating states and administrative units. Locally held cognitive maps of borderlanders and their inhabitants as well as actually practised boundary crossings will take the officially demarcated boundary into consideration, but will also ignore it where this is deemed beneficial locally.....

02-03-2011, 06:55 PM
ICG, 3 Feb 11: Central Asia: Decay and Decline (http://www.crisisgroup.org/~/media/Files/asia/central-asia/201%20Central%20Asia%20-%20Decay%20and%20Decline.ashx)

Quietly but steadily Central Asia’s basic human and physical infrastructure – the roads, power plants, hospitals and schools and the last generation of Soviet-trained specialists who have kept this all running – is disappearing. The equipment is wearing out, the personnel retiring or dying. Post-independence regimes made little effort to maintain or replace either, and funds allocated for this purpose have largely been eaten up by corruption. This collapse has already sparked protests and contributed to the overthrow of a government....

...The consequences of this neglect are too dire to ignore. The rapid deterioration of infrastructure will deepen poverty and alienation from the state. The disappearance of basic services will provide Islamic radicals, already a serious force in many Central Asian states, with further ammunition against regional leaders and openings to establish influential support networks. Economic development and poverty reduction will become a distant dream; the poorest states will become ever more dependent on the export of labour. Anger over a sharp decline in basic services played a significant role in the unrest that led to the overthrow of Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev in April 2010. It could well play a similar role in other countries, notably Tajikistan, in the not too distant future....

SWJ Blog
05-07-2012, 10:13 AM
Violence and Videos in Kazakhstan: The Information Struggle over Zhanaozen (http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/violence-and-videos-in-kazakhstan-the-information-struggle-over-zhanaozen)

Entry Excerpt:

Read the full post (http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/violence-and-videos-in-kazakhstan-the-information-struggle-over-zhanaozen) and make any comments at the SWJ Blog (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog).
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09-24-2012, 12:00 PM
I have reviewed the threads in this forum and created this new larger, mainly historical thread to cover the little reported, rarely watched by SWC competition in Central Asia, the 'stans, between external powers and within between crime, Islam and the state(s). The catalyst being what follows.

matters Afghan are excluded from this thread and appear elsewhere!

09-24-2012, 12:04 PM
A pair of China-based analysts on a trek around Central Asia report:http://raffaellopantucci.com/2012/09/24/chinatown-kazakhstan/

If you check the author's website there are a series of articles on the region.

09-26-2012, 11:55 AM
This blog examines China's evolving influence and role in Central Asia.