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Central Asia

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samarkand-sco-2022
Amidst serious tremors in the world of geopolitics, it is so fitting that this year’s Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) heads of state summit should have taken place in Samarkand – the ultimate Silk Road crossroads for 2,500 years. When in 329 BC Alexander the Great reached the then Sogdian city of Marakanda, part of the... Read More
SAMARKAND – Interconnecting Inner Eurasia is an exercise in Taoist equilibrium: adding piece by piece, patiently, to a gigantic jigsaw puzzle. It takes time, skill, vision, and of course major breakthroughs. A key piece was added to the puzzle recently in Uzbekistan, bolstering the links between the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the International... Read More
It’s tempting to visualize the overwhelming collective West debacle as a rocket, faster than free fall, plunging into the black void maelstrom of complete socio-political breakdown. The End of (Their) History turns out to be a fast-forward historical process bearing staggering ramifications: way more profound than mere self-appointed “elites” – via their messenger boys/girls –... Read More
Photo Credit: The Cradle
SAMARKAND – The ultimate Silk Road city, set at an unrivaled Eurasian trade crossroads, is the ideal spot from which to examine where the New Silk Roads adventure is heading next. For starters, the upcoming summit of heads of state of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will take place in Samarkand in mid-September. The ancient... Read More
KONYA – Mystic poet, Sufi, theosophist, and thinker, Jalal al-Din Rumi remains one of the most beloved historical personalities in history, east and west. A wanderer in search of the light, he famously characterized himself thus: “I am nothing more than a humble lover of God.” The era of Rumi’s father – Sultan Bahaeddin Veled... Read More
The meeting of the SCO Ministerial Council in Tashkent this past Friday involved some very serious business. That was the key preparatory reunion previous to the SCO summit in mid-September in fabled Samarkand, where the SCO will release a much-awaited “Declaration of Samarkand”. What happened in Tashkent was predictably unreported across the collective West and... Read More
traincradle
The War of Economic Corridors is now proceeding full speed ahead, with the game-changing first cargo flow of goods from Russia to India via the International North South Transportation Corridor (INSTC) already in effect. Very few, both in the east and west, are aware of how this actually has long been in the making: the... Read More
cradlepepe-0112
The year 2022 started with Kazakhstan on fire, a serious attack against one of the key hubs of Eurasian integration. We are only beginning to understand what and how it happened. On Monday morning, leaders of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) held an extraordinary session to discuss Kazakhstan. Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev framed it... Read More
Maidan in Almaty? Oh yeah. But it’s complicated.
So is that much fear and loathing all about gas? Not really. Kazakhstan was rocked into chaos virtually overnight, in principle, because of the doubling of prices for liquefied gas, which reached the (Russian) equivalent of 20 rubles per liter (compare it to an average of 30 rubles in Russia itself). That was the spark... Read More
Afghanistan was at the heart of the 17th Extraordinary Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers representing 57 nations at the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC). It was up to Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan to deliver the keynote address to the session, held on 19 December at the Parliament House in Islamabad. And he... Read More
The Eurasian chessboard is in non-stop motion at dizzying speed. After the Afghanistan shock, we’re all aware of the progressive interconnection of the Belt and Road Initiative, the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and of the preeminent roles played by Russia, China and Iran. These are the pillars of the... Read More
unknown-7-2
Something quite extraordinary happened in early November in Kabul. Taliban interim-Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi and Turkmen Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov got together to discuss a range of political and economic issues. Most importantly, they resurrected the legendary soap opera which in the early 2000s I dubbed Pipelineistan: the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline. Call it... Read More
Fiercely independent, the Pashtun have famously lived for centuries on \"the margins of Great Empires,\" evolving into more sophisticated renditions, but never far from their roots.
Photo Credit: The Cradle
It was bound to happen: the remixed Saigon moment at Kabul airport and the stunning comeback of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, led by Pashtuns, has unleashed across the West a cheap Orientalization avalanche. The whole of Afghanistan is now “threatened” by the return of the “barbarians.” Once again, Afghan women need to be protected,... Read More
Over a week ago the excruciatingly slow Doha peace talks between the Kabul government and the Taliban resumed, and then they dragged on for two days observed by envoys from the EU, US and UN. Nothing happened. They could not even agree on a ceasefire during Eid al-Adha. Worse, there’s no road map for how... Read More
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting of Foreign Ministers on Wednesday in Dushanbe, the Tajik capital, may have been an under-the-radar affair, but it did reveal the contours of the big picture ahead when it comes to Afghanistan. So let’s see what Russia and China – the SCO’s heavyweights – have been up to. Chinese Foreign... Read More
The no holds barred US-China strategic competition may be leading us to the complete fragmentation of the current “world-system” – as Wallerstein defined it. Yet compared to the South China Sea, the Korean peninsula, the Taiwan Straits, India-China’s Himalayan border, and selected latitudes of the Greater Middle East, Central Asia shines as a portrait of... Read More
The latest installment of the interminable Syria tragedy could be interpreted as Greece barely blocking a European “invasion” by Syrian refugees. The invasion was threatened by President Erdogan even as he refused the EU’s puny “offer you can refuse” bribe of only one billion euros. Well, it’s more complicated than that. What Erdogan is in... Read More
Nearly two decades after the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan post-9/11, and after an interminable war costing over $ 2 trillion, there’s hardly anything “historic” about a possible peace deal that may be signed in Doha this coming Saturday between Washington and the Taliban. We should start by stressing three points. 1- The Taliban wanted... Read More
Chinese cargo truck coming from the Kyrgiz-China border. Photo: Asia Times / Pepe Escobar
This journey into the past also reaches the heart of 21st century China’s New Silk Roads strategy
At the start of the Tang dynasty, in the early 7th century, a young wandering monk embarked on a 16-year long voyage from the imperial capital Chang’an (today’s Xian) to India to collect Buddhist manuscripts. At the time Chang’an was six times bigger than Rome at its height, with a population of over one million... Read More
Chinese container cargo trucks after crossing the Kulma pass at the Tajik-China border. Photo: Pepe Escobar / Asia Times
This is arguably the ultimate road trip on earth. Marco Polo did it. All the legendary Silk Road explorers did it. Traveling the Pamir Highway back to back, as a harsh winter approaches, able to appreciate it in full, in silence and solitude, offers not only a historical plunge into the intricacies of the ancient... Read More
Central Asia, betweem China and Europe, is bustling
We are cruising on a pristine, 380 km-long four-lane superhighway from Almaty to Khorgos – finished in 2016 for $1.25 billion, 85% of the cost covered by a World Bank loan. And then, suddenly, riding parallel to us, there’s the real superstar of New Silk Road connectivity. Meet Yuxinou, the container cargo train plying back... Read More
The pros and cons of being the Heartland in the 21st century
Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan. Crossing Tajikistan from west to northeast – Dushanbe to the Tajik-Kyrgyz border – and then Kyrgyzstan from south to north all the way to Bishkek via Osh, is one of the most extraordinary road trips on earth. Not only this is prime Ancient Silk Road territory but now is being propelled as a... Read More
Before the end of 2011, Pakistan will start working on its stretch of the IP (Iran-Pakistan) gas pipeline - according to Asim Hussain, Pakistan's federal minister for petroleum and natural resources. The 1,092 kilometers of pipeline on the Iranian side are already in place. IP, also known as "the peace pipeline", was originally IPI (Iran-Pakistan-India).... Read More
BEIJING - For all the rhapsodies on the advent of the New Silk Road, it may have come into effect for good last week, when China and Central Asia got together to open a crucial Pipelineistan node linking Turkmenistan to China's Xinjiang. By 2013, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong will be cruising to ever more... Read More
The New Great Game is not only focused on the face-off between the United States and strategic competitors Russia and China - with Pipelineistan as a defining element. The full spectrum dominance doctrine requires the control of the Pentagon-coined "arc of instability" from the Horn of Africa to western China. The cover story is the... Read More
The earth has been shaking for a few days now all across Pipelineistan - with massive repercussions for all the big players in the New Great Game in Eurasia. United States President Barack Obama's AfPak strategists didn't even see it coming. A silent, reptilian war had been going on for years between the US-favored Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India... Read More
There's a Central Asian energy revolution going on. In the key arena of gas geopolitics, it's no secret Russia favors the creation of a gas "OPEC" - to the despair of the George W Bush administration. But Alexei Miler, the powerful head of Russia's Gazprom, was in for a rude shock this Tuesday when the... Read More
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has ruled - and expressly told Revolutionary Guard commanders - that nuclear weapons are against Islam, and cannot be used in war even for self-defense. For all practical purposes - and with International Atomic Energy Agency confirmation - Tehran is pursuing a civilian nuclear program. Virtually the whole country... Read More
TEHRAN - The black chador-clad secretaries behind rows of flat computer monitors at the Petroleum Ministry building in central Tehran are all smiles. Not to mention their bosses. No wonder. According to the ministry's latest estimates in August, Iran will export at least US$60 billion in oil in 2005 - more than $10 billion more... Read More
History may judge it as one of the capital moves of the 21st century's New Great Game: May 25, the day high-quality Caspian light crude started flowing through the Caucasus toward the Mediterranean in Turkey. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline (BTC) - conceived by the US as the ultimate Western escape route from dependence on oil from... Read More
"I am delighted to be back in Uzbekistan. I've just had a long and very interesting and helpful discussion with the president ... Uzbekistan is a key member of the coalition's global war on terror. And I brought the president the good wishes of President Bush and our appreciation for their stalwart support in the... Read More
Was it people power? Was it a coup? Or was it just the toppling of a clan? With the same lightning speed with which it materialized, the March 24 revolutionary object called the Tulip Revolution has disappeared like a comet in the geopolitical cosmos. For four days, Kyrgyzstan had two parliaments. Then last Monday the... Read More
It all went down at the speed of light. In only a few hours on Thursday in Kyrgyzstan's capital Bishkek, the palace was stormed, the tyrant fled and a new order was starting to take shape. Or was it? The revolution had traveled by bus - 500 winding kilometers from Osh, of Silk Road fame,... Read More