There is a good chance that economic jockeying between China and Russia in Central Asia will intensify in the coming months. For Russia, Chinese economic expansion could put a crimp in President Vladimir Putin’s grand plan for the Eurasian Economic Union.
How many Central Asians are fighting for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and do they want to return to wage jihad upon their return home? No one knows for sure, but in recent months Russian officials and pundits have sounded the alarm.
It has been a chastening few months for gas-rich Turkmenistan. Two long-standing energy buyers have indicated they will stop purchasing the country’s natural gas, potentially leaving Ashgabat dependent on Chinese demand.
Pensioner Jyparkul Karaseyitova says she cannot afford meat anymore. At her local bazaar in Kyrgyzstan’s capital, Bishkek, the price for beef has jumped 9 percent in the last six weeks. And she is not alone feeling the pain of rising inflation. Butcher Aigul Shalpykova says her sales have fallen 40 percent in the last month.
Turkmenistan, home of the Karakum Desert, is one of the most arid places on earth; it is also the globe's biggest water waster. But before other Central Asian states start tsk-tsking, a recently published report describes the entire region as a world "leader" in the inefficient use of water resources.
It’s no secret that Turkmenistan, a modern-day hermit khanate with one of the most repressive governments on earth, has an abundance of political prisoners. But until now, few details were known about how enemies of the state spent their time behind bars.
It appears Turkmenistan is about to lose its second-best customer for natural gas, Iran.
Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said on August 11 that his country no longer needed gas from Turkmenistan. Zanganeh went so far as to say, "Iran is importing Turkmen gas just because it is important to promote political and economic relations with Turkmenistan."