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Thread: The New 'Great Game': state & non-state competition

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    Default The New 'Great Game': state & non-state competition

    Central Asia Emerges
    As Strategic Battleground


    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
    Last edited by GorTex6; 05-17-2006 at 02:35 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GorTex6
    ...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...

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    Council Member Tc2642's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jedburgh
    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.

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    Special Report: Russia
    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.

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    Default Terror alert as Caspian oil pipeline opens

    Terror alert as Caspian oil pipeline opens
    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....
    Last edited by GorTex6; 05-28-2006 at 05:02 AM.

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    Default The State-Crime Nexus in Central Asia

    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
    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...

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    "Criminal state of play - An examination of state-crime relations in post-Soviet Union Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan."

    http://www.silkroadstudies.org/new/d...07/0702JIR.htm

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    Default US Interests in Central Asia

    SSI, Mar 07: US Interests in Central Asia and the Challenges to Them
    ...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....

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    ICG, 24 May 07: Central Asia's Energy Risks
    ...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....

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    Default Foreign Trained Kazakh Officers Leaving the Armed Forces

    The Jamestown Foundation's Eurasia Daily Monitor, 18 Sep 07:

    Kazakhstan's Cadets Prefer Belarus to America
    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) 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.....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jedburgh View Post
    The Jamestown Foundation's Eurasia Daily Monitor, 18 Sep 07:

    Kazakhstan's Cadets Prefer Belarus to America
    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.

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    Default Narratives About a National Defender in Central Asia

    CACI, 6 Jan 08: State Propagated Narratives About a National Defender in Central Asian States
    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.

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    CACI, 20 Feb 08: The Changing Dynamics of State-Crime Relations in Kyrgyzstan
    .....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.

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    SSI, 11 Feb 09: Kazakhstan's Defense Policy: An Assessment of the Trends
    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.....

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    Former Member George L. Singleton's Avatar
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    Default Questions about Russia in the context of this article

    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.

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    SSI, 1 Jun 09: Challenges and Opportunities for the Obama Administration in Central Asia
    In this monograph, Dr. Stephen Blank 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.

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    Default Central Asia: Islamists in Prison

    ICG, 15 Dec 09: Central Asia: Islamists in Prison
    ....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 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 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....

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    Default East Siberian-Pacific Ocean Pipeline (ESPO)

    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

    Lot of hype in the article, so I look to wikipedia. Here's the factual information:
    ESPO Pipeline - Wikipedia link

    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?

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    Council Member Hacksaw's Avatar
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    Default Hmmm... going to require more thought, but...

    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)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Watcher In The Middle View Post
    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.

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