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October 1, 2007
"The Great Game" Turns in Favor of the West?
Central Asia, with its massive oil and gas wealth as well as its strategic placement as the "backdoor" to Iran and the Middle East has long been a source of competition between Russia and the west.
Called "The Great Game" by the Brits back in the 19th century, today's incarnation of this competition has been played in earnest thanks to the end of the cold war which freed the Central Asian Republics from Moscow's direct rule and recent discoveries of energy treasures that have the two sides carrying on a battle for the hearts and minds of the people of the Caucuses.
This Asian Times Online piece details the latest moves in this very important, fascinating, and under reported story:
In focus is Turkmenistan, the energy-rich gas powerhouse of Central Asia. These have been manic weeks in Ashgabat. The melodrama is acute. But then the inscrutable space between victory and the chimera of victory has always been very narrow in Central Asia. September 1 was the cutoff date that the Kremlin penciled in for the signing of agreements relating to the Russian-Kazakh-Turkmen gas deal that Putin had wrapped up during his sensational Central Asia summit on May 12. American Thinker National Security Correspondent Doug Hanson has been covering this story for several years, most recently here. Considering the vital importance the region holds for our energy future as well as a strategic base to checkmate Russian designs in the Caucuses, it is puzzling why this part of the world gets such short shrift in the American media. Yes it is a confusing jumble of unpronouncable names and places with ever shifting alliances and enemies. But the stakes are gigantic.
But September is drawing to a close, and not only have the agreements not been signed, the main protagonist, Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimukhamedov, is unavailable in Ashgabat. He has proceeded on an extended visit to the United States, accompanied by bigwigs in the Turkmen oil and gas industry. It suddenly dawns that in one big throw of the dice, the US and the European Union are desperately playing themselves back into the game, which Moscow thought it had all but secured.
Read the entire Asia Times article for some excellent inside information on the struggles of the west to stay in "The Big Game."