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Central Asia

post Dec 21 2006, 02:47 PM
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post Dec 21 2006, 03:31 PM
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Topic Introduction

What's been going on in Central Asia is as important as what has been going on in Iraq and the Middle East. You just don't hear much about it, assumedly because US soldiers aren't dying there. Due to it's importance and complexity, this topic has been laid out a little differently to help make it easier to sort through.

Central Asia consists of the former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and the smaller states of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia, clustered around what is known as the Caspian Basin. This area was historically the crossroads for the movement of people, goods, and ideas flowing between Europe, the Middle East, India and the rest of Asia, hence the term "the Silk Road". Here's a map -

After these states became free republics when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1989, western oil corporations started doing surveys and discovered that the Caspian basin was rich in oil and gas reserves beyond anyone's expectations. It is estimated that there are 6 trillion $ US worth of oil reserves below the Caspian Sea and the surrounding area, Kazakhstan alone may have as much oil as Saudi Arabia. There is natural gas too, possibly a third of the entire world's reserves. Dick Cheney said this about the Caspian basin:

"I can't think of a time when we've had a region emerge as suddenly to become as strategically significant as the Caspian. It's almost as if the opportunities have arisen overnight." .

Dick should know, he was the CEO of Halliburton, who's involvement in exporation and drilling projects in the area is extensive, and Dick Cheney himself sat on the Kazakhstan’s Oil Advisory Board where he brokered a deal between that country and Chevron. Among Chevron's advisors at the time was Central Asian expert and future Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice - they liked her so much they named a tanker after her -

When Miss Rice was named National Security Advisor Chevron renamed the ship the Altair Voyager. Here is it's tracking map.

Current US foreign policy, or should I say geo-political strategy with regard to Central Asia is a reflection of the recommendations set out in "The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy And It's Geostrategic Imperatives ", a book written by Zbigniew Brzezinski in 1997 (pub.1998). And when Zbigniew Brzezinski talks, powerful people listen (see Library topic: Zbigniew Brzezinski). Four time White House advisor and Council on Foreign Relations leader Brzezinski sees Central Asia and America's ability to establish its hegemony there as crucial in the 21st century, because of it's location (the hub between Russia, China, India, the Middle East and Europe), its political youth and instability, and its massive energy reserves.

After 9/11 the US wasted no time in establishing military bases there (while the world was wondering what was going on in Afghanistan), one in Uzbekistan and one in Kyrgyztan. Keeping these bases open has not been easy, there is a serious tug of war going on, and the existence of these bases and US plans to set up a Balistic Missile Defense shield in Central Europe upset the SCO, or Shanghai Cooperation Organization. What is the Shanghai Cooperation Organization you ask?

Originally it was the Shanghai 5, an international cooperative (America not welcome) consisting of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, formed ironically right around the time Bzrezinski's book came out. Their goals were (quoting from the SCO's website), strengthening mutual trust and good-neighborly relations among member states; promoting their effective cooperation in political affairs, economy and trade, scientific-technical, cultural, and educational spheres as well as in energy, transportation, tourism, and environment protection fields; joint safeguarding and presenting regional peace, security and stability; striving towards creation of democratic, just, reasonable new international political and economic order. Which means, if you read between the lines, to counter US influence in Central Asia. Back then the US didn't have much of a military presence in Central Asia, but American and British oil companies had been buying up oil and gas exploration rights in the region like there was no tomorrow (see Library topic: Pipeline). Then in 2001 the Shanghai 5 added a sixth country, Uzbekistan to it's line up and changed the name to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

Uzbekistan, the "prime candidate for regional leadership in Central Asia" according to Brzezinski, is headed by president Islom Karimov, one of the world's most ruthless despots. During one anti-government protest (refered to as the Andijan uprising) in 2005, Uzbek soldiers opened fire on a crowd, killing over 500 people at best estimates. Torture and killing of dissidents is routine in Uzbekistan, and it was determined from photographic evidence that two detainees were boiled to death. Craig Murray, British Foreign Minister to Uzbekistan, has been trying to tell the world about the human rights abuses that have been taking place in that country. It should not surprise you that he is no longer the British Foreign Minister to Uzbekistan.

The Bush administration has tried to turn a blind eye to these abuses. In 2002, the year Karimov visited Wahington to meet personally with president Bush, Uzbekistan recieved 500 million in US aid. OF COURSE the US supported and funded Uzbekistan and tried to keep all the human rights abuse news below the radar screen, they wanted to keep their base open.

But it was all for naught. Bowing to public pressure the US joined in a call for an international inquiry into the Andijan massacre, and Karimov, bowing to pressure from the SCO of which Uzbekistan was now a member, ordered the US base closed. That left the US with just its Kyrgyzstan base remaining in the region (apart from the American bases in nearby Afghanistan).

And then things went from bad from worse for the US, when American soldiers in Kyrgyzstan killed a Kyrgyz tank driver on the outskirts of their base there in December of 2006. And now the Kyrgyz want the US troops out of their country as well ! Could things get any worse? Could Brzezinski's hopes for US hegemony in Central Asia be trampled on any further?

You bet. In 2005 India, Mongolia, Pakistan and IRAN were granted observer status in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and, as of spring 2006, it appears that all four countries have been OK'd for full membership.

The US hasn't thrown in the towel yet though, not by any stretch of the imagination. America continues to support despotic regimes all over Central Asia and has plans to open up more bases there. America has to protect the billions in oil and gas exploration investments western companies have made there over the last decade and a half. And, possibly most important, America now has to counter the increasingly emboldened Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
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post Dec 21 2006, 07:56 PM
Post #3


Historical Background
& "The Grand Chessboard"

A War in the Planning for Four Years
by Michael Ruppert
From The Wilderness Publications, November 2001
An article about Zbigniew Brzezinski's "The Grand Chessboard"

The Grand Chessboard:American Primacy And It's Geostrategic Imperatives
Key Quotes From Zbigniew Brzezinksi's Seminal Book
@ WantToKnow.info
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post Dec 21 2006, 07:58 PM
Post #4


Oil and Gas
and the West's Fight to Get Their Hands On It

If ExxonMobil Is Not Indicted for Payments in Kazakhstan, What Has This To Do With Iraq?
Updated 4/13/03
After more than three years of deliberations, a New York grand jury has finally, as expected, indicted James Giffen for making illegal payoffs on behalf of US oil companies to President Nazarbayev and other officials in Kazakhstan. It bemains to be seen whether any of those companies will also be indicted. Attention is focused on ExxonMobil in particular, because a former Mobil senior manager, J. Bryan Williams III, has also been indicted in connection with the payments...

Halliburton Alliance Awarded Integrated Service Contract Offshore Caspian Sea In Turkmenistan
Halliburton Press Release, October 27 1997

Swiss Investigation Into Bush/Cheney Involvement in Oil Company Bribes to Kazakhstan
by Martin Mann
WhatReallyHappened.com, August 14 2000

(Central Asia, Tengiz Fields etc. scroll half way down)
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post Dec 21 2006, 08:00 PM
Post #5


US/Central Asian Relations
& Central Asian Human Rights Abuses (by Country)


Bush nurtures close ties with Kazakhstan
by Caren Bohan
Rueters, 29 Sep 2006
When President George W. Bush hosts Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev at the White House on Friday, he will seek to bolster ties with an oil-producing Central Asian country that has lent Washington support on Iraq and Afghanistan.

But Bush, who has made promoting democracy a centerpiece of his foreign-policy agenda, faces a difficult balancing act with Nazarbayev, whose autocratic ways have been criticized by human rights groups.

Leader's U.S. visit mixes Kazakh oil and democracy
by Michael Steen
Boston Globe, September 26, 2006
What attracts all three powers is the fact that Kazakhstan will join the top 10 oil producers in a decade, is doling out oil and gas exploration and production licenses and still has decisions ahead on routes for pipelines.

Bush Welcomes Kazakh President, Reaffirms U.S.-Kazakh Friendship
Both leaders committed to Central Asian stability, prosperity, and democratic reform
Jeffrey Thomas and Kathryn McConnell
Washington File Staff Writers
USINFO, 29 September 2006

Kazakhstan and the Nazarbayev Kleptocracy
Islamic Human Rights Commission
07 June 2003
Since its 1991 independence from the Soviet monolith, Kazakhstan has been mired in a succession of political crises. Kazakhstan has witnessed serious human rights abuses and the denial of fundamental freedoms. Under the reign of Nursultan Nazarbayev, attacks on the political opposition and independent media have become routine. Arbitrary arrests, detentions, torture and extrajudicial killings have been a feature of Nazarbayev’s regime.

US Ties Bolster Kazakhstan's Soviet-Style Leader
by Jim Lobe
One World, April 7 2004
@ LewRockwell.com
While the government headed by President Nursultan Nazarbayev is not considered nearly as repressive or abusive as its counterpart in Uzbekistan, where torture against practicing Muslims who scorn government-approved mosques is routine, it has been remarkably slow in introducing political reforms urged by the West. Like Uzbekistan's Islam Karimov, Nazarbayev was the dominant power in Kazakhstan when it was still part of the Soviet Union.

In addition, the president and his close political associates are believed to have become fabulously wealthy as a result of kickbacks paid to them by foreign oil companies who have flooded the energy-rich nation since the mid-1990s.


US looks away as new ally tortures Islamists
Uzbekistan's president steps up repression of opponents
by Nick Paton Walsh
The Guardian , May 26 2003
Independent human rights groups estimate that there are more than 600 politically motivated arrests a year in Uzbekistan, and 6,500 political prisoners, some tortured to death. According to a forensic report commissioned by the British embassy, in August two prisoners were even boiled to death.

The US condemned this repression for many years. But since September 11 rewrote America's strategic interests in central Asia, the government of President Islam Karimov has become Washington's new best friend in the region.

Our Presidents New Best Friend Boils People Alive
warning, graphic photos
includes link to 29 min. Video which "explores the reality of life in Uzbekistan"
Information Clearing House, June 26, 2003

UN Honors Racist Dictator Who Boils People Alive With "Cultural Diversity" Award
Paul Joseph Watson
Prison Planet, September 14 2006
UNESCO gives Karimov "diversity" award - despite the fact he tortures innocent Muslims to death for fun and political kickbacks from Bush and Blair, who use phony confessions for war on terror propaganda...

U.S. Continues Uzbek Aid Despite Rights Record
Washington Post, 1/12/04
posted @ ncsj

Death Toll Soars In Uzbekistan
CBS News, May 16 2005
Sporadic shooting continued Monday in an eastern Uzbek city where an uprising sparked a crackdown by security forces that left up to 500 people dead, and a human rights group reported that clashes in another town killed an additional 200...

Report: Uzbekistan Crackdown Was 'Massacre'; US Urged to Rethink Ties
by Abid Aslam
OneWorld.net, June 7, 2005
@ CommonDreams.org
The Uzbek government's lethal crackdown against protesters last month amounted to a ''massacre'' that the leadership is trying to cover up, a leading human rights watchdog said Tuesday.

The Trouble With Uzbekistan
Craig Murray: Speech to Chatham House (Royal Institute of International Affairs)

Craig Murray official website, November 8 2004
Britain's former Ambassador to Uzbekistan gives a first hand account

Uzbekistan kicks US out of military base
Pentagon given six months to quit as Washington's relations with hardline dictator sour in wake of civilian massacre
by Nick Paton Walsh in Moscow
The Guardian ,August 1 2005


Read my book, go to heaven: Turkmenistan president
CBC, March 21 2006
"Anyone who reads the Rukhnama  three times will find spiritual wealth, will become more intelligent, will recognize the divine being and will go straight to heaven," Niyazov said, according to Agence France-Presse...
Deemed a sacred text by the government, the book offers moral and spiritual guidance and is required reading for the country's students and government officials.

IFLA protests closure of libraries and violations of human rights
in Turkmenistan

International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions
The President of Turkmenistan, Mr Saparmurat Niyazov, has ordered the closure of libraries on the grounds that "nobody reads books or go to libraries"... The President has stated that additional libraries are unnecessary as most books that Turkmen need should already be in homes, workplaces and schools.





Other States

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post Dec 21 2006, 08:01 PM
Post #6


The Shanghai Cooperation Organization

Official Website
of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization

Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)
Global Security.org
About the SCO, its formation and history

Is the Shanghai Cooperation Organization a Military Confederacy?
by Frederick Stakelbeck, Jr.
Free Republic, Sept 26 2005
good article

Central Asia Bloc United Against Missile Shield
CNN, June 15 2001
Led by Chinese President Jiang Zemin and Russia President Vladimir Putin, the newly named Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) on Friday met to conclude a two-day conference designed to build a new economic and security bloc in central Asia.

Full text of joint communique of 2006 SCO summit
People's Daily Online
June 15, 2006

China, Russia welcome Iran into the fold
by M K Bhadrakumar
Asia Times, Apr 18 2006
Mongolia, Iran, India and Pakistan, which previously had observer status, will become full members

China-SCO-Iran -Commuinique SCO member states pledges consultation with observer states
Islamic Republic News Agency
Shanghai, June 15 2006
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post Dec 21 2006, 08:04 PM
Post #7


US Military Presence
in Central Asia

US planning bases across Middle East, Central Asia
Daily Times, March 26 2006
The United States is planning to build at least six bases across the Middle East and Central Asia in the next 10 years for “deep storage” of munitions and equipment to prepare for regional war contingencies.

Central Asia's Great Base Race
by Stephen Blank
Asia Times, Dec 19 2003
The search for bases preceded the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States, but since then the rush for foreign bases has accelerated. Indeed, it has become a focal point of the many international rivalries that now dot these areas. And it appears likely to divide the region into rival proxies for the major military powers.

US to keep bases in Central Asia: Rumsfeld
Dawn, July 26 2005
US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on Monday Washington would keep military bases in Central Asia, while officials moved to dispel fears it wants permanent facilities in the region.

The Pentagon operates air bases in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan it deems ‘vital’ for delivering supplies to Afghanistan, but continuing access has become uncertain amid Russian and Chinese pressure that it withdraw.

“We feel we’ve had a good arrangement and good relationships in a number of those countries in the region. They’ve worked well for us,” said Rumsfeld, who arrived in Kyrgyzstan on his second visit to the ex-Soviet state in three months.

Whither US bases in Central Asia?
by Oleg Sidorov
Gazeta.KZ, 28.10.2005
I guess that I shouldn't even mention that Uzbekistan gave 180 days to the USA to get its bases out of the Uzbek territory. Of course, first it puzzled the USA that earlier had already heard the declaration of the SCO countries unambiguously letting it know that its military presence is unwanted in Central Asia... As a consequence the Pentagon has to seek other ways for dislocation of its bases in the region from which it is not going to withdraw at least for the next 20 years.

Taking into consideration the growth of anti-American sentiments in Central Asia, Washington acts correspondingly and offers new financial aid to the republic. Not forgetting to mention that the aid will be growing in proportion to the terms of military bases.

US hurrying to save its bases in Central Asia
by Pyotr Goncharov
Novosti | Russian News and Information Agency
July 25, 2005

Kyrgyz Aviators Attack the USAF
Kommersant, Dec. 14 2006
A special commission of the Kyrgyz Ministry of Transport and Communications held a press conference yesterday in Bishkek at which it demanded that the agreement on the American airbase at Manas Airport in the Kyrgyz capital be reconsidered. Financial claims against the Americans were also made known. This is a new twist in relations that were already serious complicated by the December 6 shooting of Kyrgyz fuel tanker driver Alexander Ivanov by an American sentry at the airbase.

Kyrgyzstan may kick out U.S. military
Big News Network (UPI)
@ US News, December 15 2006
Kyrgyzstan's Parliament passed a resolution Friday instructing its government to consider closing a U.S. air base in the capital city of Bishkek.

The action follows the fatal shooting last week of a Kyrgyz truck driver by a U.S. airman from the Manas air base, the Russian news agency Novosti reports.
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post Dec 21 2006, 08:11 PM
Post #8


Central Asia: General
Articles, Posts & Threads

The Devil's Tears
The Politics of Oil and Human Rights in Central Asia
by Lutz C. Kleveman
Amnesty Magazine, Spring 2004

EXCLUSIVE: Ex-British Ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray on Why He Defied UK Foreign Office by Posting Classified Memos Blasting U.S., British Support of Torture by Uzbek Regime
Democracy Now, January 19 2006

Beyond Ukraine
by Amitabh Pal
The Progressive
In several instances in other countries of the former Soviet Union, the Bush Administration has backed dictatorships much worse than the government of Ukraine. It also hasn't had much of a problem with other recent elections that have been blatantly fixed. The occasional proclamations by the United States in favor of democracy aren't taken seriously by most ruling governments in the area.

The Tripolar Chessboard
Commentary: Putting Iran in a "great power" context
by Michael Klare
Mother Jones, June 15 2006

Oil and the New Great Game
by Lutz C. Kleveman
The Nation, February 16 2004
Central Asia, however, is no less volatile than the Middle East, and oil politics are only making matters worse: Fierce conflicts have broken out over pipeline routes from the landlocked Caspian region to high-sea ports....
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post Dec 21 2006, 08:28 PM
Post #9


Other Resources


Craig Murray

Writer, broadcaster & former British embassador to Uzbekistan's official website
As Britain's outspoken Ambassador to the Central Asian Republic of Uzbekistan, Craig Murray helped expose vicious human rights abuses by the US-funded regime of Islam Karimov. He is now a prominent critic of Western policy in the region.


The History of Central Asia
World History Archives
Hartford Web Publishing
Comprehensive - up through to contemporary issues
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