Extreme Competitions May Bring More Familiar Extreme Measures
Here is one of the latest on China-Turkmenistan Pipeline deals:
China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) has announced the discovery of yet another gas field on the right bank of the Amu Darya River in Turkmenistan, holding in excess of 100 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas.
Separately, Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow inaugurated a new compressor station at the Bagtiyarlyk fields, estimated by Chinese engineers to hold 1.6 trillion cubic meters of natural gas.
These fields feed the Turkmenistan-China pipeline, which traverses Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan and was opened in December 2009 with a projected capacity of 40 billion cubic meters per year (bcm/y) by 2015, with some of that volume being consumed in southern Kazakhstan. (See Gas pipeline gigantism, Asia Times Online, July 17, 2008.)
In June this year, Ashgabad and Beijing agreed to increase Turkmen exports to China above the agreed level; the new compressor station will eventually raise the existing capacity to 22 bcm/y from the 6 bcm/y estimate of Chinese consumption of Turkmenistan-sourced gas for 2010.
This development is only one of a continuing series of events confirming the implementation of Turkmenistan’s energy reorientation away from Russia. (See Tectonic shift under way in Turkmen gas, Asia Times Online, May 28, 2010.) Thus a series of meetings among heads of government in the margins of the UN General Assembly Meeting in New York last month has continued to accelerate movement in the direction of seeking to realize the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan, India (TAPI) natural gas pipeline.
Reports in the Indian press over the past month indicate that New Delhi is now following through strongly on its earlier expression of interest. Most interesting is the report that the four partners are seeking to recruit a major international energy firm to discuss costs in greater detail, with a view towards actual construction. The name, or even the nationality, of this firm has not even been hinted at openly.
Okay, you can read the rest here.
As we all know the Cold war may be over, kinda, but not the fierce competition over natural resources. And the new battle grounds? Forget the Old Middle East; I am talking about the New Energy Territories. I am going to use the following introduction paragraph from an article published by Central Asia- Caucasus Institute:
The U.S. has started to formulate and implement more comprehensive policies for Central Asia. The deepening involvement in the war in Afghanistan is the principal, but not sole cause for this policy initiative. Russia’s attempts to impose its hegemony upon Central Asia and oblige the U.S. to recognize it have triggered a reaction in Washington. Likewise, China’s completion of the pipeline to Turkmenistan and major investment projects in Central Asia forced the U.S. to devise new ways to enhance its energy and economic profile there as well. As a result, in early 2010, we now see the elements of a new and stronger policy initiative towards Central Asia.
The above paragraph, the introduction, is the only frank and sound point made in the article. Without going into the typical bologna-ridden point-making fluff used in the rest of the piece I’ll have you jump to the summation of their ‘analysis’:
CONCLUSIONS: The Obama Administration has evidently decided to make an important policy stand in Central Asia beyond Afghanistan and Pakistan. Moreover, it is likely to invest more high-level political resources there and actively promote expanded economic ties between the U.S. and Central Asian states. While those governments will undoubtedly welcome this support and investment of those resources because they add to their room for maneuver among their neighboring great powers, Russia and China will obviously strive to minimize the U.S. presence, thrust, and impact. But they will also simultaneously be competing against each other; a fact that can only contribute to the greater independence and freedom of action of Central Asian states, a primary goal of U.S. policy. To the extent that the U.S. deems it necessary to expand its presence in Central Asia to shore up its campaign in Afghanistan it will in many ways, both foreseen and possibly unforeseen, contribute to the ability of these states to stand on their own feet, an outcome that is necessary both in regard to the threat of terrorism emanating from Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and their affiliates, and also in regard to the threat to their effective independence coming from Moscow and/or Beijing.
You see we have two types of foreign policies when it comes to our pursuit of badly needed resources and crucial delivery arteries in our intended regional colonies:
1- The Written Policies (above example): to be used and promoted as marketing tools, yet to remain only as melodically written policy literature. This is where you hear phrases like cooperation on security and against terrorism, or better, democratization.
2- The Unwritten and Unspoken Policies: to be secretly, vigorously, and ferociously practiced and implemented, under the self-created carte blanche ‘The End Justifies the Means’
Think about it, wasn’t this how we carried out almost all our foreign policies during the Cold War? And what’s the difference now? The same competition, only now three-way, and the same objectives regardless of the fluffy and phony descriptions used in the ’written policies.’
Based on our consistent and ‘known’ history, my bet goes to the following predictions when it comes to our real foreign policy measures and responses to the latest developments on the Central Asia-Caucasus front:
Despite the absence of religious extremism and related terrorist groups, mysteriously (as far as our beneficiaries are concerned: Miraculously!), we’ll start reading terrorism related news headlines and incidents in this region, with some specifically targeting ‘pipelines.’ Here is a past example incident in Turkmenistan:
On 13 September 2008, the law enforcement agencies fought a bloody battle with a large gang of well trained and heavily armed drug dealers. The gang was finally suppressed but the toll was heavy: According to independent estimates, some 18 officers and troops may have lost their lives.
And this is how ‘they,’ people from those parts of the world who are familiar with our ‘real’ foreign policy practices in the past, question the above incident:
Is there any country that feels particularly frustrated by the gas deals that Turkmenistan signed recently with Russia and China?
Is there any country or countries that would benefit from terror and disorder in Turkmenistan?
Is there any country that routinely spreads disorder and chaos around the world, the most current examples being Bolivia and Venezuela?
Considering the timing, more importantly, considering our known M.O., who could blame those asking the above questions? As for our own policy-makers, this is how they played it:
The report mentioned the September 2008 violence in the Khitrova district of Ashgabat, where a protracted gun battle took place under circumstances that remain murky. The incident “forced the [g]overnment of Turkmenistan to reevaluate its counterterrorism program, training partners, and readiness,” the report said, without providing details.
Boooooooohhhh, the infamous ‘murky’ line: hmmmmm we wonder who did it and how. And the wishful self-serving conclusion they drew, which is expressed as: ‘Turkmenistan to reevaluate its counterterrorism program, training partners, and readiness.’ Meaning, ‘we taught them a good lesson here…now they should know who they should choose as their partner…now they should dive into accepting our base ‘erection’ over there…’
So, since this is not a licensed gambling site we won’t be taking monetary bets. But nonetheless it will be interesting. My bet: welcome a new wave of US- Mujahideen contracts, terrorism incidents along the Turkmenistan borders, and of course an explosion or two targeting the pipelines. Where do you place your bet? Please bring in your predictions.