Central Asia Theater
Is forgotten Mongolia about to enter the global stage? Suddenly civil unrest breaks out in the capital, Ulan Bator, with a struggle over mineral resources in the background. Dare we hope that the anti-government protesters represent an indigenous ecological movement and not (or at least not yet) mere pawns of Washington, Moscow or Beijing? From AP, April 11:
ULAN BATOR - Thousands of protesters from rival civic groups faced off in Mongolia's capital on Tuesday, as hundreds of police intervened to prevent minor scuffles from escalating.
More than a year after Kyrgyzstan's "Tulip Revolution," the supposed democratic renewal isn't looking too good, is it? President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, so recently a revolutionary leader, now warns against "lawlessness and anarchy" like a good despot. But is he Washington's son of a bitch now? Or are the neocons planning yet another revolution, deeming him insufficiently compliant? From Reuters, April 14:
This doesn't sound very good, does it? From the BBC, March 1:
An opposition leader in Uzbekistan has been jailed for 10 years for economic crimes, a Tashkent court has said. Nadira Khidoyatova of opposition group Sunshine Uzbekistan was found guilty of tax evasion and money laundering.
A very enlightening piece from the Dec. 28 Christian Science Monitor, "Kremlin reasserts control of oil, gas" by Fred Weir, points to Moscow designs to reassert its power in Eurasia, and possibly eventually on the global stage. This, in turn, sheds much light on why the US is really in Iraq...
From the New York Times, Dec. 12 (and apparently little-reported elsewhere):
BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan, Dec. 11 - In the remote hamlet of Tamga, residents frustrated by corruption and the sorry legacy of a chemical spill did something that would have been unthinkable in Kyrygzstan not long ago: they rose up.
The current (Dec. 1) issue of The Economist includes a profile of "China's far west"a region variously known as Xinjiang (to the Chinese), or East Turkestan or Uighurstan to its indigenous inhabitants, the Turkic and Muslim Uighurs. After providing some background on the separatist strife in the Autonomous Region (which readers of WW4 Report will already be familiar with), it notes the recent development of gasfields there and the construction, now underway, of a pipeline to Kazakhstan. We recently noted that Kazakhstan is to be connected with the new trans-Caucasian Baku-Ceyhan pipeline with a link across the Caspian Sea, at the other end of the country. Now, Kazakhstan is a vast place, but it is nearly inevitable the global planners already foresee linking these pipelines. The question, ultimately, is whose control all this infrastructure will fall under. With all eyes on the Baku-Ceyhan route, Japan is seeking a Pacific route for Siberian and (eventually) Central Asian oil and gaswhich would, as we have noted, strategically by-pass longtime rival China.
Similar dynamics on both sides of the Caspian Sea. We recently noted unrest over contested elections in Azerbaijan, where the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline has just opened. Now Kazakhstan—slated to be connected to the new pipeline by a link across the Caspian—seems headed down the same path.