Posts Tagged ‘Central Asia’

Disease hits wheat crops in Africa, Mideast

April 22, 2011 Comments off


PARIS — Aggressive new strains of wheat rust disease have decimated up to 40 percent of harvests in some regions of north Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia and the Caucasus, researchers said Wednesday.

The countries most affected are Syria and Uzbekistan, with Egypt, Yemen, Turkey, Iran, Morocco, Ethiopia and Kenya also hit hard, they reported at a scientific conference in Aleppo, Syria.

“These epidemics increase the price of food and pose a real threat to rural livelihoods and regional food security,” Mahmoud Solh, director general of the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), said in a statement.

In some nations hit by the blight, wheat accounts for 50 percent of calorie intake, and 20 percent of protein nutrition.

“Wheat is the cornerstone for food security in many of these countries,” said Hans Braun, director of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), near Mexico City, singling out Syria.

“Looking at the political and social situation, what they don’t need is a food crisis,” he told AFP by phone.

Wheat rust is a fungal disease that attacks the stems, grains and especially the Read more…


China-Russia relations and the United States: At a turning point?

April 14, 2011 Comments off


Dmitry Medvedev  and  Hu  JintaoBy Dr. Richard Weitz

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…

“War Without Borders”: Washington Intensifies Push Into Central Asia

February 3, 2011 Comments off

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.

One or more of the five nations border Afghanistan, Russia, China and Iran and several more than one of the latter. Kazakhstan, for example, adjoins China and Russia.

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. [1]

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…