ALMATY, Apr 16 (THE GLOBE)
Sovereignty is a delicate thing
Islam or Nursultan? That is the question
In the program, Zheti Kun, on April 16 on Xabar, there were an undercurrent of irritation concerning the official visit by Madeleine Albright to Kazakhstan. Khabar analysts presented the US Foreign Department head as an overly straightforward and ill-educated woman who had experienced a difficult childhood, but not as a statesman.
Obviously, it was the Kazakh leader who was the first to express his irritation on April 15 on Khabar: he said it was not the business of the US State Secretary to give instructions as to whom they were to appoint or not to appoint as the Deputy Minister of Kazakhstan.
We may doubt that Mrs. Albright openly expressed her opinion on the sale of Kazakh fighters to North Korea, yet it is evident they discussed the shift of Nurtai Abykaev, who had been the KNB head when the MIGs had been sold, to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In the West politicians usually leave the scene for ever after such a political failure. But Kazakhstan is different!
The Kazakh Government was obviously upset by the changes to the State Department leadership, as the terms and conditions of staying in Kazakhstan were reduced, yet the terms for staying in Tashkent, at Islam Karimov, became longer than had been previously planned.
Why? Why is President Karimov favoured more than President Nazarbayev is? Naturally, Xabar was irritated, yet did not ask the question, nor answered it. Therefore we wish to suggest an answer.
Rule of thumb:
Kazakhstan is the economy; Uzbekistan and… Russia are security
Recently the US's behaviour and interests in the region could be considered as triad-like:
1. to cut off Iran from Central Asia and the Caucasus;
2. to restrict Russia's influence;
3. to provide supplies of raw materials from the region to world markets, missing both Iran and Russia.
The first statement is of a geostrategic character for the U.S.A., as it is a postulate of the US regional policy and partly due to the anti-American position of Iranian society. To tie Caspian oil to the Persian Gulf? This obviously contradicts western interests.
The second statement may be interpreted in the following way: we should not strengthen Russia and its influence, it would be better to wait and see. Russia will always be a competitor, yet will it be an enemy?
Finally, the third statement is mere economics.
Recently it became obvious:
- the U.S.A. has no resources to properly influence the region in order to support its stability. The events in Batken district of Kyrgyzstan in summer 1999 proved this. It is impossible to manage without Russia.
- the U.S.A. has limited economic resources to construct the very expensive Baku-Ceykhan oil pipeline from Azerbaijan to Turkey. Is it worth speaking of Trans-Caspian variants for the eastern seashore?
For example, rivalry over gas between Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, the failure of the January negotiations in Ashgabad made the recognised US analytical centre Stratfor entitle their material «The U.S.A.steps aside from Central Asia.»
As far as oil pipelines or just big oil supplies from the Caspian eastern seashore, i.e. from Kazakhstan, are concerned, for the time being there is no oil. The shelf will not be efficient soon, even if big oil is in Kashagan. What is there is no oil at all? The new governments are 10 years-old. The only success was Tengis, but its oil will go through Russia.
It becomes quiet clear that economically the U.S.A. cannot master Central Asia. Kazakhstan, the main transit route, is the gate to the Central Asian economy. A loss of interest in the economy is equal to a loss of interest in Kazakhstan.
Under these conditions, the security problems of the region are becoming primary. Obviously, Uzbekistan is the key point here being an outlet to Afghanistan and Tajikistan. Howevew includes other issues such as the Osh Valley and its internal problems (initially over-population) and the various Kazakh border problems.
Obviously, it is impossible to manage without Russia (plus, we should add here the «Putin-Karimov» axis). Negotiations by the Kremlin regarding security in the region will be difficult. But on the whole, the U.S.A. and Russia are allies on this problem.
Thus, security will be the major task for «Washington-Tashkent-Moscow.» And there is no room for Astana.
It seems to me that Xabar does not understand this. By the way, on April 16 I spoke as an expert on Zheti Kun program, by my own initiative. I called my speech «Americans are leaving the region», meaning, of course, the economy. While arranging the material, Xabar journalists cut this off my speech. I presume to undermine my text.
MOSCOW, Apr 17 (AFP)
Iraqi Defense Minister General Sultan Hashem Ahmad met secretly from Friday until Sunday with his Russian counterpart Igor Sergeyev, the ITAR-TASS news agency said, citing the Russian defense ministry.
The two men «discussed questions concerning the current international situation, notably in the Persian Gulf,» ITAR-TASS reported.
Information on the three-day visit was only made available after the Iraqi general's departure, Russian news agencies said.
General Ahmad, accompanied by high-level Iraqi military officers, returned to Baghdad from Moscow via Belgrade, the agencies reported.
The United Nations Security Council, of which Russia is a permanent member, on Friday gave its unanimous approval to a blueprint for the new UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC).
UNMOVIC would replace UNSCOM, the UN Special Commission for Disarmament in Iraq, which was accused by Baghdad of spying on behalf of Washington and Tel Aviv and left Baghdad on the eve of US-British air strikes in December 1998.
Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz said Saturday that the UN move meant nothing to
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