Gas Games, but Not Where You’d Expect

by Joshua Foust on 1/5/2009

As a follow up on Michael’s post about Tajikistan being cut off from Turkmenistan’s power exports, we should probably explore exactly what Turkmenistan is up to these days. The UN General Assembly recently passed—unanimously—a Turkmeni proposal (as part of a broad agenda on “sustainable development“) to devise an international system of some sort to protect transnational energy pipelines. While that is certainly boilerplate with little chance of turning into something tangible, like a ratified treaty (the question of ownership—and I don’t mean by countries—would play an enormous and probably ignored role), it does say something about where Turkmenistan is focusing its energies.

In stark contrast to viewing the issues with energy supplies only through the lens of Russia, Turkmenistan represents an enormous challenge… and opportunity. For a long while, I’ve been arguing about the importance of Turkmenistan’s energy policies, and how vital it is for the U.S. to have a plan for dealing with a newly-invigorated Turkmeni president looking to expand beyond his predecessor’s neurotic and unreliable foreign policy.

Behold. Even while Ashgabat delays the opening of the new gaspipe to China (apparently they finally found the prospect of a 2000 mile pipe route daunting), it is inking new deals with Iran to keep its energy flowing south.

There is obviously a lot more happening (and, in a way, a lot less, since Tehran and Ashgabat have an established history together). But the real energy story is happening south of the Caucasus, not north of it.


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This post was written by...

– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from Registan.net. His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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