ATO

by Nathan Hamm on 4/17/2006 · 3 comments

Every now and then, I find it kind of nice to read what Asia Times Online has to say about Central Asia for no other reason than to remind me of why I do not normally read what Asia Times Online has to say about Central Asia. From the latest article by M K Bhadrakumar, whom I have found not to be as bright a bulb as his CV might suggest.

The Central Asians have also displayed a lack of interest in the idea of “Greater Central Asia”. This became apparent during the conference sponsored by Washington recently in Kabul focusing on the theme.

From the Kazakh Foreign Minister last week in Afghanistan as reported in an Indian newspaper.

Speaking at an international conference in Kabul, “Partnership, Trade and Development in Greater Central Asia”, recently, Tokaev said: “As a regional leader, Kazakhstan can and is willing to bring meaningful contribution to the restoration of Afghanistan and creation of a Greater Central Asia, which we view as a civilizing and economic entity aimed at ensuring security and development of the region.”

Tossing it back to Bhadrakumar.

The US seeks an expansion of its physical control over Kazakhstan’s oil reserves and formalization of Kazakh oil transportation via Baku-Ceyhan pipeline, apart from carving out a US role in Caspian Sea security.

But Kazakhstan is playing hard to get.

It took me literally seconds of fevered calculations in my laboratory to come to the conclusion that perhaps Kazakhstan’s foreign policy seeks to serve its own national interest and not just pick sides. Perhaps that’s a bit more economical and exact explanation for how it can, on the one hand, support the “Greater Central Asia” concept while also exporting oil through Russian pipelines. Of course, given the geopolitical particulars during the period in which Bhadrakumar served most of his career, that a country like Kazakhstan might seek to enhance its power by playing great powers off one another to maximize its own benefit and independence is surely a novel concept.


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– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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{ 3 comments }

Laika the space dog April 18, 2006 at 12:50 am

Excellent blog, thanks for all your hard work in producing stuff of this quality. it’s appreciated!

Josh April 18, 2006 at 7:34 am

You’d almost think a country acting in its own interest was a foreign concept to him. But seriously—most journalistic accounts of what Central Asian countries think are mostly wrong. Dig around any archive of source documents (like ciaonet.org) and you can quite plainly see what the actual governments are up to. And, like any other government, Kazakhstan is all about increasing its own standing in the region and the world.

None of this should be surprising to people who study the place.

Curzon April 18, 2006 at 6:27 pm

It took me literally seconds of fevered calculations in my laboratory to come to the conclusion that perhaps Kazakhstan’s foreign policy seeks to serve its own national interest and not just pick sides.

Hilarious image (and line).

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