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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
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
ALMATY, KAZAKHSTAN – “We need a new name,” a senior official in Kazakhstan told me. “People keep confusing us with all the other crazy “stans.” We are not like them. Quite right. Compared to neighboring Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan is an island of tranquility and quiet development. Kazakhstan is the world’s 9th... Read More
The control of Central Asia has been a core part of international relations since the “Great Game” between Tsarist Russia and the British Empire. At the turn of the 20th century, John Halford Mackinder developed the “Heartland Theory,” which revolves around the concept of a pivot area/Heartland, that covers Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Western China... 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
The board is Central Asia. The major players are (in order by length of experience) China, Russia, and the U.S.A. Important supporting roles are filled by Pakistan, Iran, India, and Turkey. Welcome to the Great Game, 21st-century style. Can't spell "Kyrgyzstan"? Stick around — pretty soon you'll be murmuring it in your sleep, and the... Read More
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