An Iranian family walks on the solidified salts of Oroumieh Lake. More photos »
OROUMIEH LAKE, Iran – From a hillside, Kamal Saadat looked forlornly at hundreds of potential customers, knowing he could not take them for trips in his boat to enjoy a spring weekend on picturesque Oroumieh Lake, the third largest saltwater lake on earth.
“Look, the boat is stuck… It cannot move anymore,” said Saadat, gesturing to where it lay encased by solidifying salt and lamenting that he could not understand why the lake was fading away.
The long popular lake, home to migrating flamingos, pelicans and gulls, has shrunken by 60 percent and could disappear entirely in just a few years, experts say — drained by drought, misguided Read more…
19 May 2011, Rome – FAO will assist ten countries in Central Asia and the Caucasus to save up to 25 million hectares of cultivated farmland from a locust crisis. Locusts are a serious threat for agriculture, food security and livelihoods in both regions including adjacent areas of northern Afghanistan and the southern Russian Federation.
A five-year programme to develop national capacities and launch regional cooperation is about to start thanks to assistance from the United States of America. Support from other donors is expected soon.
Ten countries at risk
In all, ten countries are at risk: Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. There are three locust pests in the Read more…
Since the end of the Cold War, the improved political and economic relationship between Beijing and Moscow has affected a range of international security issues. China and Russia have expanded their bilateral economic and security cooperation. In addition, they have pursued distinct, yet parallel, policies regarding many global and regional issues.
Yet, Chinese and Russian approaches to a range of significant subjects are still largely uncoordinated and at times in conflict. Economic exchanges between China and Russia remain minimal compared to those found between most friendly countries, let alone allies.
Although stronger Chinese-Russian ties could present greater challenges to other countries (e.g., the establishment of a Moscow-Beijing condominium over Central Asia), several factors make it unlikely that the two countries will form such a bloc.
The relationship between the Chinese and Russian governments is perhaps the best it has ever been. The leaders of both countries engage in numerous high-level exchanges, make many mutually supportive statements, and manifest other displays of Russian-Chinese cooperation in what both governments refer to as their developing strategic partnership.
The current benign situation is due less to common values and shared interests than to the fact that Chinese and Russian security concerns are Read more…
Russia warns the West against interference: Medvedev suggests that revolts in the Arab world were instigated by outside forces
Moscow is concerned that the turmoil in the Arab world aggravated by western interference may destabilise Russia’s restive North Caucasus and former Soviet Central Asia
-Although Russian leaders have not named any country, experts and politicians have pointed a finger at the United States.
“The Arab revolt may have begun as spontaneous protests, but the West has now moved to take the endgame under its control,” says Konstantin Kosachyov, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the State Duma. Analysts say the U.S. is using the same techniques in the Arab East it earlier used in staging “coloured revolutions” in the former Soviet Union — in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan. They noted the role of CIA-linked foundations such as the Freedom House and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), in supporting and training civil activists and Twitter and Facebook organisers of the protests in Egypt and Tunisia.
“The events [in the Arab world] bear all the traits of a total ‘network war’ (netwar) as formulated by John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt of the RAND Corporation back in 1996,” says Alexander Knyazev of the Moscow-based Institute of Oriental Read more…
ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan (AP) — Energy-hungry China is set to sign an agreement with the Central Asian nation of Turkmenistan later this year to boost its future annual natural gas purchases by 20 billion cubic meters, state newspaper Neutral Turkmenistan reported Wednesday.
The deal means Turkmenistan’s annual gas sales to China will eventually reach 60 billion cubic meters — equivalent to more than half China’s entire natural gas consumption last year.
Turkmenistan began delivering gas to China through a newly completed pipeline in late 2009, but that route is only expected to reach full annual capacity of 40 billion cubic meters by 2015. As of mid-February, Turkmenistan had supplied 5.8 billion cubic meters of Read more…
“Hegemony is as old as Mankind…” -Zbigniew Brzezinski, former U.S. National Security Advisor
The term “New Middle East” was introduced to the world in June 2006 in Tel Aviv by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (who was credited by the Western media for coining the term) in replacement of the older and more imposing term, the “Greater Middle East.”
This shift in foreign policy phraseology coincided with the inauguration Read more…
The U.S. can maintain its global primacy if it (among other things) plays Russia off China, India, Iran and Turkey off Russia and Turkey off Iran. That’s the analysis of globe-spinner extraordinaire Robert Kaplan, along with his brother Stephen (apparently recently retired as a top CIA official).
The essay, America Primed, is in the new edition of The National Interest and doesn’t deal too explicitly with the Caucasus or Central Asia. But it’s all about how the U.S. (assisted by the “Anglosphere,” other English-speaking countries like Canada, the U.K. and Australia) can maintain dominance on the Eurasian continent. And that requires American leadership to make sure that no other country — in particular China, Russia or Iran — gets too powerful. What does that entail, specifically?
For one, playing India off Russia (and “punishing” Pakistan):
Out of national pride, and because of its own tense relationships with China and Pakistan, India needs to remain officially nonaligned. But that will not stop New Delhi from accepting more help from Read more…
By Rick Rozoff
A recent editorial on the website of Voice of America reflected on last year being one in which the United States solidified relations with the five former Soviet republics in Central Asia: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
The U.S. and Britain, with the support of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, invaded Afghanistan and fanned out into Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan in October of 2001, less than four months after Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan founded the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to foster expanding economic, security, transportation and energy cooperation and integration in and through Central Asia. In 2005 India, Iran and Pakistan joined the SCO as observers and Afghan President Hamid Karzai has attended its last five annual heads of state summits. 
Now the U.S. and the NATO have over 150,000 troops planted directly south of three Central Asian nations.
Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan are also on the Caspian Sea, a reservoir of oil and natural gas whose dimensions have only been accurately determined in the past twenty years and where American companies are active in hydrocarbon projects.
After the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, the Pentagon and its NATO allies deployed military forces to, in addition to Soviet-constructed air bases in Afghanistan, bases in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The first two countries Read more…