Category Archives: central asia

Asia Central en verano

Este verano han pasado muchas cosas por Asia Central. Primero las elecciones de agosot en Kazajstán y que ganó el partido del presidente de forma masiva (el Nur OTAN consiguió todos los escaños en juego, un resultado sin precedentes… no hubo ni el intento de un cierto maquillaje de los resultados). Algunos analistas han vinculado los resultados a un golpe sobre la mesa para evitar cualquier tipo de rumores tras el tema Alyev.
Actualmente se ha publicado el informe de la ODHRI que, como era previsible, no las ha dejado muy bien, dificultando la pretensiones del país de presidir la OSCE en un futuro próximo.

Por otro lado encontramos la reunión de la Organización para la Cooperación de Shanghai (SCO) y que tuvo como elementos más destacados la creación de un “mercado energético” y la seguridad. También destacable fué la decisión de no ampliar la organización (especialmente por la oposición de Kazakhstan) y dejar a India, Pakistán, Iran y Afrganistán como observadores.

También hemos tenido notícias de un nuevo grupo llamado Islamic Jihad Union y que dice ser una escisión del desaparecido Movimiento Islámico de Uzbekistan (IMU), en las detenciones por un intento de atentado en Alemania. Diferentes blogs han cuestionado las informaciones entre los que destacaría Beyond the River.

Y hoy hemos despejado una de las grandes incognitas uzbekas: finalmente elecciones presidenciales el 23 de diciembre (pasando el límite establecido, pero bueno). Hagan sus apuestas! A mi me parece que vamos a tener Karimov por sete años más (pese a los peses legales, a la mala salud, etc.). Para mi la gran pregunta es cuantos candidatos van a poder cumplir los requisitos para presentarse:

Under current legislation, an Uzbek citizen can be nominated for president either by a political party or an initiative group of 300 people. They also need to collect the signatures of 700,000 eligible voters and submit an application to the CEC.

Una buena notícia es que Eurasianet ha realizado una compilación en DVD de 10 películas de la región (tan difíciles de encontrar) y ha mejorado su apartado sobre la Revolución de las Tulipas de forma muy didactica.

Finalmente, Rahmon (presidente tayiko) ha decidido mejorar las relaciones con los uzbekos y Uzbekistan y ha realizado nuevas medidas, como la simplificación de las bodas. En Eurasianet se analiza así:

A western anthropologist working in the Pamir Mountains notes that many of her Tajik contacts believe Rahmon’s social initiatives are good for Tajikistan. “They see Rahmon as protecting their interests,” she said. “Wedding traditions have become huge economic burdens for poor families, who are already sending many of their sons to Russia just to make ends meet. …. These villagers readily agree that money [spent on elaborate wedding rituals] could be saved for things like a car or sending their kids to university, and are glad to have an ‘excuse’ to not go into serious debt without loosing face.”

Tajiks tend not interpret the wedding limitations, along with other measures designed to enforce austerity, as government meddling in private affairs. “They see the ban as a ‘boost’ for individual families, like a tax break,” the anthropologist said.

A waiter in Dushanbe also applauded Rahmon’s restrictions on lavish weddings. “The situation here is really hard to earn money and prices are increasing,” the waiter said. “Why make a party for people you haven’t seen in years?”

For the few who can easily afford to throw a big bash, there is always a way to circumvent the rules, the waiter added. “If someone wants to have a really big party they will just pay off the police responsible” for enforcing wedding party limits.

Para terminar un interesante análisis de las posiciones de Rusia y India en Asia Central Narain Roy en Mainstream:

However, Russia’s strength lies elsewhere. Russia has successfully used its new soft power role in Central Asia which extends far beyond its energy resources. Russia’s greatest contribution to the security and stability of its southern tier has not been arms sale or military pacts. Moscow has provided the region’s biggest safety valve through migration to Russia. It has absorbed the surplus labour of the region by providing them jobs, markets for goods and consumer goods. As Fiona Hill of the Brookings Institution says, “a range of new Russian products, a burgeoning popular culture spread by satellite television, a growing film industry, rock music, Russian popular novels, a revival of the crowning achievements of the Russian artistic tradition, and new jobs in the service and other sectors have made Russia an increasingly attractive country for the region around it.”

It is indeed sad that New Delhi should continue to underestimate the importance of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. India is, of course, an observer and as such participates in the SCO’s meetings, but it is like the US attending the NAM summit as an observer. So enamoured are our foreign policy mandarins of the new found friendship with Washington that they have found no time to evaluate the SCO’s great potential strategic importance to India.

fgh

China y Asia Central

Artículo de Nicolás de Pedro en Safe Democracy, destaco este párrafo:

No obstante, ninguno de los análisis que sugieren esta posibilidad (amenaza militar de China a Asia Central), argumenta sólidamente cuáles podrían ser los beneficios de tal viraje chino. Es decir, ¿qué beneficios objetivos podría conseguir Pekín de una política que conllevaría, muy posiblemente, un grave enfrentamiento con Moscú y, tal vez, también con Washington? La posibilidad de una creciente agresividad unilateral china resulta aún más improbable, si tenemos en cuenta que Asia central es, a pesar de todo, una de las áreas fronterizas más receptivas a las políticas de Pekín.

En cuanto a democracia casi mejor que no me ayudes…

Como los remedios más fuertes, la promoción de la democracia a cualquier precio que lleva a cabo la actual administración norteamericana conlleva también a veces, efectos secundarios indeseados… quizás deberían detallarse en el prospecto!

Fragmento de un artículo de opinión más amplio, aparecido en International Herald Tribune

U.S. promotes free elections, only to see allies lose
By Hassan M. Fattah Published: August 9, 2007

DUBAI: Political spin masters in Lebanon have been trying in recent days to explain the results of a pivotal special election last Sunday, which saw a relative unknown from the opposition narrowly beat a former president, Amin Gemayel.

There has been talk of the Christian vote and the Armenian vote, of history and betrayal. One explanation, however, that all agree on proved crucial in this race: Gemayel’s support by the Bush administration, and the implied agendas behind such support, seem to have helped doom him.

“It’s the kiss of death,” said Turki al- Rasheed, a Saudi reformer who watched Sunday’s elections closely. “The minute you are counted on or backed by the Americans, kiss it goodbye, you will never win.”

The paradox of American policy in the Middle East – promoting democracy on the assumption it will bring countries closer to the West – is that almost everywhere there are free elections, the American-backed side tends to lose.

In part, regional analysts say, candidates are tainted by the baggage of American foreign policy – from support for Israel to the violence in Iraq.

You tube on Central Asia (part I)

The best videos about Central Asia found in You Tube.

Ahmadjan Madmarov Uzbekistan – Front Line Award 2006

About Andijan:

Some images of the post-masacre (part one)

the Akiner case… SOAS Academic Shirin Akiner is Uzbekistan Regime Agent

Craig Murray, british embassador to Uzbekistan (1/3)

Soros in Central Asia (1/4)

Turkeminstan best country in the world… for sure…

Niyazov report

Photo tribute to Niyazov

The Aral Sea

White Gold, the True Cost of Cotton (from the written report), Uzbekistan

Civil war in Tajikistan

Tulip revolution

Events in Bishkek april 2007

Gallup World Poll about Kyrgyzstan
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=guX1WoSe5Ew”>

An interview of Owen Lattimore, covering much of his work in Inner Asia

And many VOA reports

Uzbek cuisine, delicious

Sevara Nazarkhan, my favourite central asian singer
RSS feeds

Oil and Gas in Central Asia

The Foreign Policy Blog on Central Asia has a post on Peak Oil in Central Asia. Well, I don’t think that the Peak Oil theory is very well understood in that post, but there is interesting data:

According to the BP report and RFE/RL, the years of production that Kazakhstan has at present levels of extraction is 76.5 years; Azerbaijan, 29.3 years; Turkmenistan, 9.2 years; and Russia, 22.3 years. (…) Ideally, states use that “oil revenue window” to develop a varied economy using oil income as a jumpstart for a new economic engine.

I like the concept “oil revenue window”, and then the post continues refering to the resources trap and dutch disease theories (but don’t mention them) that the Foreign Policy magazine have reviewed not very long ago (see Petropolitics). From my point of view, improving governance is the best way to solve all the problems and challenges of the “oil revenue windows”, but to do that in only 10 years in Turkmenistan looks impossible so this country is going to miss the oil revenue window for sure. But we should not forget that Turkmenistan is much richer in gas than oil, so fso according to Planete Energies, could spend 30 more years on its “gas revenue winidow”, a much better perspective.

In a broader picture, tha Asian Develpment Bank just published an Energy Strategy working paper with some interesting conclusions:

According to the International Energy Agency,
primary energy demand in the developing Asia will grow from 2.9 billion tons of oil equivalent
(btoe) in 2004 to 5.8 btoe in 2030. This growth is not sustainable if most of this energy will have
to be met by fossil fuels.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), in the future, electrification level or
access will rise over the projection period, but the total number of people remaining without
electricity will fall only slightly, from 1.6 billion in 2002 to just under 1.4 billion in 2030. Most of
the net decrease in the number of people without electricity will occur only after 2015. The levels of the electricity-deprived will fall in Asia, but will continue to increase in Africa.

EU, Central Asia and Energy diversification

Otro interesante informe del International Crisis Group, recién salido del horno, uno de los elementos más destacables es el mapa del final, que puede ser de gran utilidad por su claridad:

Bishkek/Brussels, 24 May 2007: Central Asia’s oil and gas cannot solve the European Union’s energy dependence on Russia, but these resources can destabilise the producing region unless governments use the revenues to promote good governance and rule of law.

Central Asia’s Energy Risks,* the latest report from the International Crisis Group, examines the resources of three countries – Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan – and the dangers of mishandling them. It argues that a trans-Caspian gas pipeline cannot largely write Russia out of the European energy equation, as Brussels hopes. But it also disputes the common view that the 12 May Russian-Central Asian gas agreement prevents that pipeline from being built.

“Central Asia can make a contribution – a modest one – to helping resolve Europe’s energy security concerns”, says Charles Esser, Crisis Group Energy Analyst, “but only if outside investment is tied to the good governance that is needed to improve regional and human security. If Western governments turn their eyes away from mismanagement and human rights abuses in expectation of short-term gains, they risk stimulating instability in Central Asia that will only add to their energy and other security problems”.

The three countries present different challenges, but all three are suffering from the “resource curse”. Kazakhstan has used its money best and is impressive compared to its neighbours but should aim for a higher standard now. It is at a point where enormous oil revenues need to be translated into commensurate outcomes that benefit its citizens. Corruption, an undiversified economy, improper management of state funds and a lack of the legal guarantees that are part of a true democracy hold it back.

All these problems are more extreme in Turkmenistan, a major gas exporter that was pillaged by the eccentric and brutal dictator Saparmurat Niyazov until his death in December 2006. Despite a relatively high per capita income on paper, most Turkmen live in poverty. Investment in energy production has faltered. It remains to be seen if anything fundamental will change under the new leader, a close protégé of Niyazov’s who came to power in a rigged election. He may not have much time before revenues fall, as gas production will decline without substantial new investment.

Uzbekistan has the least oil and gas of the three producers. It is a net importer of oil, and much of its declining gas output has been sold to Russia. Despite wishful thinking in some European capitals, it will never be a part of EU energy security arrangements. The gas also perpetuates a system that impoverishes and represses its people. Domestic supplies are often cut in winter, for example, so the gas can be sold abroad, leaving cities unheated in freezing weather, provoking protests and serious unrest.

“The hard fact is there is no substitute for arrangements with Russia that stress mutual dependence on commercial oil and gas delivery”, says Michael Hall, Crisis Group Central Asia Project Director. “The international community needs to pay more attention to Central Asia as a security risk, without expecting it to solve its outside energy needs”.

Kazajstán-España

Buen artículo de Augusto Soto en ElCano sobre las relaciones entre ambos países, destaco algunos párrafos:

Los vínculos bilaterales, establecidos en 1992, se han acompañado de unas cordialísimas relaciones entre el Rey Juan Carlos, que ha visitado varias veces Kazajistán, y el presidente Nursultán Nazarbayev, que ha visitado seis veces nuestro país desde 1994, más que ningún jefe de Estado de las Américas o de Rusia. Más aún, en la última boda real, en 2004, entre los invitados, Nazarbayev fue el único presidente asistente de un país al este de Berlín.
Igualmente cuenta el sentido de la reciprocidad. Se ha resaltado la presencia del ministro español de Asuntos Exteriores, Miguel Ángel Moratinos, como más alto representante de un gobierno de la UE en la ceremonia de investidura de Nazarbayev, en enero de 2006, tras su tercera reelección. Tal asistencia habría favorecido la decisión del Gobierno kazajo para proponer a Repsol YPF un mejor acceso en el Caspio. El acuerdo se firmó en noviembre pasado para trabajar en el yacimiento de petróleo y gas de Zhambay, donde la empresa española tiene el 25%, al igual que la rusa Lukoil, y Kazmunaigaz, kazaja, el 50%. El último proyecto de Repsol había sido el del área de Darjan, hoy asignado a la petrolera china CNPC.

Tan importante como la energía es el compromiso de permanencia en el país demostrado por Talgo en la agilización de la red ferroviaria. Destaca la venta y mantenimiento de nuevos trenes entre la antigua capital Almaty –la ciudad más cosmopolita de Asia Central– y la nueva capital, Astaná, poseedora de los edificios más modernos entre Moscú y Pekín, además de los trenes de la conexión Almaty-Chimkent, ciudad colindante con Uzbekistán y en dirección al Caspio. Por otro lado, la empresa Indra, de tecnologías avanzadas, cuyo presidente viajó en la delegación con Moratinos, espera obtener un sustancial contrato de suministro de radares para el Ministerio de Defensa.