Thursday, February 09, 2012

Syria: another Zioconned US stepping stone....Hiatus in European debate on Iran....

Syria: another Zioconned US stepping stone....Hiatus in European debate on Iran....

By Ardeshir Ommani

The Syrian armed opposition is not independent from the United States and reactionary Arab regimes in its objective to capture power, not through the ballot box by imposing a civil war. The degree of its dependency and servitude manifests itself when US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton unambiguously called on "friends of democratic Syria" to unite and rally against President Bashar Assad. This proclamation was ushered the day after the US sponsored authorization for military intervention into Syria was rejected by China and Russia, who were forced to veto the US plan for invasion of Syria.

In the continuation of her command, Clinton reiterated that the "international community", just like George W Bush's "coalition of the willing" had a duty to promote a political transition that would see President Bashar al-Assad step down.

Clinton gave her directive to the whole world while visiting Bulgaria, one of the 10 poorest countries of Europe, with Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of less than US$53 billion in 2010, the Per Capita Income of $13,449 and the General government gross debt as high as 19.7% of the country's GDP. The purpose of interposing Bulgaria's poor economic conditions is not to denigrate the country or its people, but to show that US Imperialism with its plans of domination, destruction and plunder uses even the most poverty-stricken nations to turn against other struggling countries such as Syria, Iran and not too long ago Libya to accomplish its criminal purpose. Following in the footsteps of Cheney, Rumsfeld and Company just before the invasion of Iraq, Clinton lashed out at Russia and China as a stepping stone to declare "faced with a neutered Security Council we have to redouble our efforts outside of the United Nations with our allies and partners…."

I think we have seen this movie before. The first character that appears on the stage is a spokesman for the Arab League (AL). It makes no difference whether he is elected or appointed by the Saudi Arabian King and Prime Minister and more importantly he has received Hillary Clinton's or General David H. Petraeus, the Director of the CIA's blessings. Following his assignment, the Arab League emissary who has been ushered to the UN General Assembly room by Susan Rice, US Ambassador to the United Nations, pleads for establishing a "no fly zone" to save the lives of the innocent Syrians for God's sake!

If there is no contest to the resolution well-prepared by the US government, then Washington gets to work and with the help of the coalition of the willing, permission in hand, begins the bombarding of Syrian logistics, every kind of arms depot, the electrical grids, the factories, food depots, water reservoirs, city sewer systems and schools and hospitals. Does this scenario have precedence? Yes, about six months after extracting the license to impose a "no fly zone" over Libya, the Western powers with carpet bombings flattened that country, liberated the country's light sweet crude oil and succeeded to install one of the senior ENI SpA executives (Italy's major oil company) as Libya's oil minister and in two months the Western oil companies were sucking out 1.3 million barrels a day.

This time the job of preparing the draft resolution was given to the Moroccan representative to the UN who was on a fast track. The plan demanded the Syrian government withdraw all of its armed forces from all populated areas back to its barracks. However, it ignored Russia's demand that the Syrian opposition distance itself from extremist groups that commit violence and crimes against civilians. The second Russian demand that was totally ignored was that 'armed groups must stop attacks against state institutions and the public while the Syrian armed forces are leaving the cities.' The refusal to include these provisions into the draft resolution meant only one thing: dissolution of the Syrian state and a total "regime change".

Instead of being apologetic, the co-authors of the draft began slamming the integrity of the Russian government. For instance, Morocco's representative charged the Russian government with ignoring the "Arab's common stances". France's delegate went as far as calling Russia and China accomplices in crimes committed by the Syrian regime. For Russia and China who had seen the terrible consequences in Libya, there was only one alternative and that was vetoing the resolution.

This time around, in the case of Syria, China and Russia had learned their bitter lesson and resisted being fooled for a second time. But the US and its allies had stacked the cards in favor of passing the resolution and doing unto Syria what they did to Libya. More telling, the US did not accept any alteration in the resolution, which forced China and Russia to veto the motion and defeat it.

As far back as in November 2011, NATO in collaboration with the pro-imperialist and reactionary Arab Sheiks of Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Turkey were planning to invade Syria, set up a colonial regime and overthrow a social democratic secular government. According to an article on Al Bawaba, an Arabic/English internet site, Senior European sources revealed that Arab jet fighters and possibly Turkish warplanes, backed by American logistical support would impose a no-fly zone in Syria's sky after the Arab League issues a decision calling for armed intervention. The sources told Kuwait's al Rai daily that the Syrian trucks, tanks and military vehicles would not be excluded from the targets of the invading jets.

The fates of Libya and Syria could not be more similar. While deep in economic crisis, the US and Europe are looking to regenerate capitalism through widespread war with the developing countries before being ready for war in many forms....hard and soft....with Russia and China......
Hiatus in European debate on Iran....
By Kaveh L Afrasiabi

PALO ALTO - At last week's Munich Security Conference, there was a conspicuous absence of any meaningful discussion of the "Iran crisis" threatening global peace and security.

This was not surprising since the Europeans have moved in lockstep with the United States on Iran despite a US reorientation of its defense policy towards Asia and the Pacific at the expense of Europe.

In early January, US President Barack Obama unveiled a new US defense strategy that reflected a continuing US commitment to maintaining global military superiority while addressing the need for bringing a decade of military over-expansion to a halt.

In light of Pentagon budget cuts and rising US domestic needs, the US requires greater "burden sharing" between North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) members, former US Defense Secretary Gates said at last year's Munich conference. His successor, Leon Panetta, sounded more upbeat at this year's conference [1], predicating that the Afghan conflict would soon end.

Neither Panetta nor any other Western speaker gave more than cursory attention to Iran and the danger signs in Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz. The conference devoted much attention to Syria, but not Bahrain, another flash point of mass rebellion and insecurity in the Arab world. Many speakers took aim at Russia for its unapologetic support of the embattled Baathist regime in Damascus.

It seems that in Europe, ad hoc policy such as France and England's naval bandwagoning with the American armada in the Persian Gulf has replaced rational defense strategies that could entertain an Iranian-European security debate and even cooperation.

Given Europe's proximity to Iran compared to the US and shared interests with Tehran, there ought to be an enlightened Iran-European security dialogue unaffected by Israeli and American intrusions.

Because of their economic interdependence, Iran and the European countries have the potential to lay down the elements of a broad security agreement that is mutually rewarding, such as a non-intervention pact. That would instantly take care of European anxieties about Iran's missile threat, the threat of terrorism, and the like, as well as Tehran's worries that Europe is conspiring with Washington and Tel Aviv for regime change in Iran.

Europe is increasingly a mirror of interventionist and hawkish US policy toward Iran, despite the threats to Europe's security, especially energy security, in light of EU's recent decision to impose an oil embargo on Iran within a few months.

Had the participants at the Munich security conference [1] paid serious attention to the issue of energy security, then they would have been compelled to debate the impact of the Western approach on the stability of world oil market, upon which the fate of global economic recovery rests.

"The Europeans have joined the Americans in declaring an economic war on Iran and are refusing to see the light of reality, which is that this is not an alternative to war but a prelude to it," said a Tehran University political science professor who spoke with the author on the condition of anonymity.

"The costs to Europe of a blind obedience to the United States on Iran are on the rise and may soon become prohibitively too high if the Europeans are not careful," added the Tehran professor, who has published widely on the subject of Iran's relations with Europe and wishes to see a genuine "European Union-Iran dialogue" apart from the "five plus one" talks that include US, Russia, and China, on the subject of the nuclear standoff.

In the past, there were several rounds of such dialogue on economic, human rights, and other issues, but these have stalled in the wake of the continent's concerns over Iran's nuclear ambitions. In deferring to US for leadership on the Iran issue, a whole range of diplomatic possibilities have been ignored, which is neither in Europe's nor Iran's interests.

China is likely the biggest beneficiary of a crisis that has diverted US military attention from other "priority areas". A US-Iran war would drain the US economy, and this too would benefit Beijing in some significant respects, heralding a declining Western superpower overstretching itself that paves the way to future superpowers.

Europe stands to gain little from its current approach toward Iran. Only through real debate can Europe open new horizons in terms of security cooperation.

1. See
here for Panetta's speech.
2. Link to the
Munich conference.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012



Comme par hasard, le Bilderberg a toujours été à la botte de ces manipulateurs, marionnettistes de l'ombre, "illuminatis" qui auront successivement instrumentalisé, entre autres ignominies, deux guerres mondiales, le bolchevisme, le nazisme, et même... le sionisme crapuleux....

Dans ce contexte, tandis qu'à l'Ouest, consigne est donnée de longue date de se boucher le nez, certains plus à l'Est pourraient bien avoir de gros dossiers bien saignants sur les nazis en question. Affaire à suivre, donc....

En faisant briller la lame du bourreau, ils échapperont à la décapitation....???
Cela ne pose pas de problèmes, éthiques, au hasard, de procéder à des généralisations en évoquant: »la domination psychologique des arabo-musulmans sur les Chrétiens et ce n’est qu’un début. »
Ne faites pas partie de ceux, innombrables, qui parlent au nom des tous les autres, quels que soient ces autres?

De surcroît, quitte à évoquer la prétendue domination psychologique des arabo-musulmans sur le reste des composantes de la société française, je dis prétendue, car est dominé psychologiquement celui qui le veut bien, l’honnêteté intellectuelle impose de ne pas oublier de mentionner le silence, voire la complaisance de certains non chrétiens à l’égard des agitateurs islamiques, entretenant peut-être ainsi l’espoir illusoire, « qu’en faisant briller la lame du bourreau, ils échapperont à la décapitation. »

De même qu’il y a autant de façons « d’être juif » qu’il y a de juifs, il y à autant de façon d’être un ‘goy » qu’il y a de « goyim », sauf à réduire les gens à un trait identitaire et en faire une prison où ils sont assignés à demeure et pour toujours.

Libre à ceux qui le souhaitent de procéder ainsi en ce qui les concerne, mais qu’ils ne parlent pas au lieu de l’autre, dont ils ne savent rien au fond, sauf à prétendre savoir mieux que lui ce qu’il est....

La Démocratie ? Quelle Démocratie.... ?

C’est un artefact exceptionnel, qui a émergé un jour dans la culture grecque.
Aussi anormal que le « Royaume de Dieu » d’un certain Rabbi Iéshoua qui a émergé un jour dans la culture Juive....

Dans l’un et l’autre cas, ça a pu prendre forme pendant un certain temps en s’appuyant sur un « petit troupeau », une minorité agissante, convaincue et volontaire.
Et toujours de manière précaire, car allant contre les tendances naturelles récurrentes que certaines religions et idéologies savent, elles, flatter à fond : appétits, jalousie, domination sur les plus faibles, des mâles sur les femelles, hystérie collective, fanatisme, rêve de domination mondiale, etc.

Ces hommes et ces femmes, pleinement adultes (pas des assistés de 16 ou 18 ans), de type équilibrés, avides de vérité, responsables, honnêtes, travailleurs et courageux ne sont pas toujours là en nombre suffisant pour s’imposer, hélas.
Et le suffrage universel suffit souvent à lui seul à les noyer sous la masse prédominante des clients de la démagogie, de la paresse parasitaire, du fanatisme, de la bêtise manipulée, et les réduire à l’impuissance tout aussi efficacement qu’une révolution bolchevique, un golpe ou une invasion armée.

Conclusion : le cours naturel des choses voudrait que bientôt ces deux épiphénomènes spécifiques de l’Occident, nommés « Démocratie » et « Royaume de Dieu », dont nous aurons profité un certain temps, ne soient plus qu’un souvenir historique.
Alexandre Vialatte aurait eu le mauvais ( ?) goût de conclure : Et c’est ainsi qu’Allah est grand !

It gets even better when the skunk Tom Friedman tries to explain it all on a daily basis with his utter drivel....

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Zioconned Western special services: it is easier to conclude peace with Islamists rather than struggle with them...

Zioconned Western special services: it is easier to conclude peace with Islamists rather than struggle with them....from the Hinu Kush to MENA, to Africa and beyond....LOL

Expert on Central Asia Vitaliy VOLKOV

Central Asia is a powder keg to the World....

Last week the members of local community of salafits in Shubarshi village in Aktobe oblast shot up three policemen. It has been not the first case this year. Before that, a die-hard exploded himself in Aktobe KNB department, in addition a vehicle filled with explosives detonated near KNB pretrial detention center in Astana. Members of Almaty city Special Forces suffered in a bloody slaughter in one of Almaty flats. These week, the prisoners of Balkhash colony exploded themselves in attempt to escape (at least one of them – adherent of untraditional religious flow). Does it mean that tolerant and calm Kazakhstan is facing real threat of religious extremism? Alexander KRASNER (Novaya-Kazakhstan) and Seitkazy MATAYEV (KazTAG) discussed it with well known German expert on Central Asia Vitaliy VOLKOV in Köln.

-I have been talking about an “arc of crisis” for a long time, which has two branches: one comes from Afghanistan and Pakistan to India, and another one- through Central Asia to Russia and Caucasus. The fire has been walking on it inflaming hotbeds here or there. Islamic terrorists are trying to act in a wide front and constantly remind about themselves, as any resonant terror act attracts not just attention but also supporters.

There is quite wide recruiting base in Kazakhstan. It includes not only Kazakh people, but also migrant workers, who work here. Arab people actively act on your territory, who are closely connected with Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). But their target is not Kazakhstan, but, first of all, Uzbekistan and Russian Caucasus. If in tactical aims they need destabilization in Kazakhstan, they wil do it, and they have these opportunities. Although, your special forces, as I believe, are trying to trace this situation.

There are data, that the heads of newly formed Islamic underground world acting at the base of the IMU in Kyrgyzstan have strong positions and are ready for military actions. In this new IMU, as some sources reported, there are many militants from Caucasus and other Russian regions. There are data, that lately their troops have been replenished with militants from Kazakhstan.

The new IMU are basically based in Pakistan and supported by ISI – interdepartmental investigation office of this country. It is not based on relatives ties, which previous IMU members had, who escaped from Uzbekistan in the end of 1990th and settled in Pakistan. The new generation browbeats even the talibs in Afghanistan. They are carpetbaggers who set their rules of Shariat, they are ready to move, first to Afghanistan, and then to Kyrgyzstan, and through Tajikistan to Uzbekistan. They do not consider Tajikistan as a front direction, as in many districts there they have freedom of movement. The local Tajik authorities are paid by the IMU members, fear them or have the same goals as they do. That’s why they let them move through their territory, basically to Kyrgyzstan. Of course, the main ideological target of the new IMU is Uzbekistan. Karimov is their enemy, and the presidential chair under him, according to some signs, is swinging. People are dissatisfied with the ruling regime, population’s passionarity has increased. Recently one political force stated that they are ready for revolution of Arabic type. In common, that Arabic example for Central Asia has been underestimated by experts, including me.

Kazakhstan is a very convenient rear base for the militants, thus, it has better position in these terms, than other Central Asian states. There is no sense for Islamists to frustrate situation in Kazakhstan. Although, they can do it already today.

-S.Matayev: In one word, you believe that militants are preparing operations in Central Asia to invade in these or those states of the region?

-According to my data, the IMU are planning scaled operations in Pakistan, Afghanistan and some Central Asian states.

-S.M.: Who is interested in it and who is financing it?

-There are at least two big financing sources. First- it is drugs traffic. The drugs lords are not interested in destabilization, as they have adjusted routs for drugs transportation. They don’t need a big wave. They need small conflicts, as in the time of such conflicts it is possible “to fish in troubled water”. Another thing, when drug lords and warlords are the same people. They can be close relatives of the president of this or that state or have direct ties with the president, government or somebody from the government; in this case the primary goal is the politics and the profit from drugs trafficking is a means for the goal achievement.

The second source of financing is bigger- it is sponsors from Arabic states, who, by the way, work also in Kazakhstan. Through their channels they actively finance, including the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. They aspire to make khalifat.

The war in Libya on the background of the failure of NATO troops in Afghanistan nudges that in the USA, and, perhaps, in Europe, there is opinion in some political circles and special services that it is easier to conclude peace with Islamists rather than struggle with them. To make peace and define spheres of influence. Where is the border of this division?

Until today, all the heads of Central-Asian states believed that in any geopolitical situation they will get support from the West and from Russia, because they struggle with Islamists. As soon as Western politicians start looking for peace with ben Laden’s followers, it will immediately change the position of Central-Asian leaders.

-S.M.: Is the reaction of Central Asian leaders adequate on this situation?

-Differently. Recently there was a message that Turkmenistan president ordered to organize controlling service on earth orbit and empowered it to the local Ministry of National Security. One of my colleagues supposed that Berdymukhamedov recently got to know about Google. And that Americans are watching Ashgabat and see everything what is going on there. He ordered to control this Google. Of course, it is a joke, but it is adequate to the level of his thinking. Berdymukhamedov is a dentist.

They said that he was Niyazov’s dentist. This person has no idea about how a state functions and how it is governed. All his analytics is based on fear. The situation is different in Kyrgyzstan, they have no time to analyze. Their goal is just to keep the state. As I know, Uzbekistan has strong analytical service, there are Soviet specialists. They forecast the future. Another thing is that this future does not seem pink in their forecasts. The economy is in critical condition.

Even Karimov can’t and does not want to go against gentility, terrible corruption, which is corroding the state.

There is no analysis of the situation in Tajikistan. But as far as they have ties with Afghan warlords, Rahmon gets information in the form of baizes what is planned and who to contact. He imprisoned all his former colleagues. They are also not great specialists, but at least they were warlords who went through war and had ties with various groups. Today Rahmon is in very complicated situation: his own kindred is dissatisfied with him, they say that he tends to lie a lot and disrespects elder people.

As for Kazakhstan, I think, the country which chaired the OSCE last year, should invest more into analytics connected with Afghan processes and propose deep strategic conception.

A. Krasner: Looks like the heads of Central-Asian states do not think much about geopolitical situation. First of all they are concerned about preservation of their personal power…

-The age of governors of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan (for now I exclude Tajikistan and Turkmenistan leaders) stimulates various political circles and elites to think about their claim for power. It is more obvious in Uzbekistan and might be destabilization factor. There are several groups, controlled by the local national Security Council, which for now supports Karimov. However, the head of the council Inoyatov has his group of supporters in a certain region of the state. There are big businessmen, who form some political lobby, there is elder president’s daughter.

The situation is a bit different in Kazakhstan, I would not underestimate the factor of, for example, Rakhat Aliyev. Despite strong overestimation of his own opportunities, he continues to destabilize the situation.

-S.M.: What do you expect from the upcoming presidential elections in Kyrgyzstan? Will the cardinal problems be resolved there or everything will come to banal property redistribution? Now the presidential post in Kyrgyzstan reminds the royal one in Great Britain: reigning but not ruling. According to your opinion, should the presidential form of ruling return to Kyrgyzstan?

-It is the same as to think if a fly sitting on the head of a hippo affects his behavior. I am not sure the election will be held in the form as it is planned. Let’s make comparison with Afghanistan. For example, we will hold elections there. But Afghan people do not want to live in a uniform country. In this situation, they can elect anybody, but the main problem won’t be resolved, how to find consensus with various ethnic groups. I don’t believe that something can seriously depend on election in Kyrgyzstan. Perhaps, something can be changed, if a wave of processes travels through Central Asian states which I had mentioned before. A strong Islamic group will appear which will make claim for power.

As for Kyrgyzstan, there is a president, who can do almost nothing there, and, perhaps, already does not want to. It is obvious that security agencies of this state act independently and only in their interests, sometimes in cooperation with criminals.

-S.M.: Don’t you think that a third power not connected with any kindreds and groups, representing people’s masses can come to power during autumn election in Kyrgyzstan?

- I am very skeptical about so called free elections. From my point of view a young leader should appear to bring changes, so called Shamil, who will call people to fight.

But it is blood. I think appearance of such Shamil is possible in Uzbekistan. Perhaps, it wil be somebody from the group of Mohammad Salih, as Salih is a charismatic person, a well-known poet, oppositionist, who lives abroad.

He stated about foundation of new movements and Karim fears. Looks like there are people in Uzbekistan government who are ready to support this movement. It is a statement of not only Salih, but also information from different sources, which confirms it. He is a representative of intelligence, from one side – quite national, from another side- soviet, dissident. At the same time he is not connected with the West so much to abstract from Uzbek reality. He is a person who believes in Islam, but he is not a fan. There are also “akremists” (main figures of Fergana events of 2005) and a number of other underground movements in Islam.

A.K.: The calmest Central Asian state seems to be Turkmenistan. But as they say still waters run deep.. or am I mistaken?

-Turkmenistan is not a small country. Besides Turkmen people, who are dissatisfied with unemployment, who don’t get salaries from the government, there are a lot of Uzbek and Kazakh people- who are potentially protest electorate, which, Heaven forbid, will be claimed by Uzbekistan from one side and by Afghanistan from another side.

If Uzbekistan flares, I don’t exclude that Turkmenistan might be the next.

A.K.: What can you say about Chinese policy to Central Asia?

-It is quite selective and efficient. As I know Chinese positions are quite strong in some spheres in Kyrgyzstan, in educational branch they recently squeezed up Russians. Iran is trying to keep up to China in Tajikistan. But Rahmon fears Islamic tendencies, thus, he is very careful with Iran.

Chinese positions in Uzbekistan are also very strong, although Karimov is quite careful, and lately tends to set close ties with the US, especially in the military branch. But here, he might face big problems with Russia. Medvedev went to Tashkent before the recent SCO summit not in vain, apparently, they discussed this issue.

At the same time China plays big role in Afghanistan and Pakistan, not less than the US.

Moreover, China is pushing out the US from Pakistan, which used to be American patrimony.

China is brining weapons there and giving Pakistan government more money than the US. That is why, Americans are looking for eastern rout for cargoes delivery to Afghanistan. Chinese, in their turn, do not hinder American base location in Bishkek, although, could outbid it in 5 minutes.

-A.K.: What is ahead in Central Asia?

- From my point of view, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan are the next hot points, and the events might develop there quite soon. There is no a single factor in Kyrgyzstan showing that there won’t be any new bow net with unpredictable consequences.

Central Asia is a powderkeg of the universe. A kind of universal “Afghanistan” will exist and oppose “civilization” despite all the solutions by force and finances until people find a way to reach agreement with each other without using power and money. Nor power neither money managed to defeat Afghanistan. It brings us to an opportunity to search for new peacekeeping ideas. About that I wrote in my books: in Turkmenka and in Kabul-Caucasus, and in the new novel Century of Die-hard.

-Thank you for the interview.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Aral Sea challenge to Kazakhstan....

Aral Sea challenge to Kazakhstan, disputes over water resources and conflicting interests of Russia and China is fraught with new tensions....
By Farkhad Sharip

As a part of Lukoil's incessant attempts to consolidate its presence in the energy sector of Central Asia, on January 17, the Russian company's board of executives endorsed the purchase by its daughter company, Lukoil Overseas, of 6.6% of shares in the transnational Aral Sea Operating Company.

Aral Sea Operating Co was set up in 2006 to explore and develop Uzbekistan's oil and gas fields in the Aral Sea on a product sharing agreement basis. With the additional acquisition, the Russian share in the transnational Aral project joined by Uzbekistan's Uzneftegaz national holding, Chinese CNPC International, South Korean KNOC Aral and Russian Lukoil Company totals 26.6%. The 6.6% of shares purchased by Lukoil earlier belonged to Malaysian Petronas Company, which abandoned the project in 2011.

Some experts believe that if the project is implemented successfully, the Aral sector of Uzbekistan may become more attractive for investors than the Caspian oil and gas fields of Kazakhstan. But so far its achievements look very modest.

Over the past six years, slightly over US$110 million were invested in the project. Initially, Uzbekistan's sector in the Aral Sea was estimated to hold around 31% of the oil and 40% of the natural gas reserves of Central Asia, which potentially would make Uzbekistan the second-largest oil producer in the region, rivaling Kazakhstan.

It seems that Gazprom chose the correct political moment to make forays into hydrocarbon reserves after the brutally quenched Andijan riots of 2005. In 2010, Gazprom Zarubezhneftegaz, a subsidiary of Gazprom, funneled US$200 million into prospective drilling of the Ustyurt fields in Uzbekistan, but with no significant results. Uzbek experts forecast gas reserves in Aral deposits at 470 billion cubic meters.

But Russians, after repeated failures to confirm these estimates, are becoming skeptical. The only plausible explanation for their staying in the Aral project seems to be the reluctance of Moscow to lose its dominant position in Uzbekistan's oil and gas sector.

Given the deepening mistrust between Russia and China, another important actor in Uzbekistan's energy sector, Russian participation in the Aral project pursues political interests rather than purely economic pragmatism. The Central Asian nations continue to seek hydrocarbon export routes that circumvent Russia. Too much independence by these countries, which possess 22 billion cubic meters of discovered gas reserves comprising 12% of world gas deposits, would be favorable to Beijing and deal a heavy blow to Moscow's key interests.

The situation in the Uzbek energy sector appears paradoxical. Last December, the population of Uzbekistan suffered a severe shortage of gas and electricity, and the government decreed to cut off hundreds of enterprises in Tashkent from gas sources. At the same time, Uzbekistan is steadily increasing its export volumes of gas.

In 2010, the volume of gas exported from Uzbekistan to Russia exceeded that of Turkmenistan to Russia and equaled 15.5 billion cubic meters (bcm), compared with 10.5 bcm in the preceding year. This year, according to Russian sources, Gazprom will buy from Uzbekistan 14.5 bcm of gas for $220 per one thousand cubic meters.

Additionally, from April 1, Uzbekistan will start gas exports to China through the gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to China, the 529-kilometer Uzbek section of which is planned to be completed by 2014. According to the contract signed by the Uzbek Uztransgaz Company and PetroChina International Ltd, the sides agreed on an annual delivery of 10 bcm to China priced at $90 per 1,000 cubic meters, which is cheaper than the gas delivered to Russia by a factor of 2.5 times.

Faced with the scarce investment into its economy and the necessity of modernizing its industry, Uzbekistan is pressed to develop hydrocarbon deposits in the Aral Sea and simultaneously expand its gas export volume, often ignoring the shortage of energy sources in domestic markets.

Clearly, the need to intensify industrial development in rivalry with Kazakhstan in Central Asia will, in the short-term, force the Uzbek government to significantly reduce its export volumes of gas. This calls into question the feasibility of the projected export targets.

Uzbekistan's quest for hydrocarbon sources develops against the background of deepening disintegration and brewing conflicts in the face of worsening energy security in Central Asia.

Southern Kazakhstan is largely dependent on Turkmen and Uzbek gas supplied from Gazprom on a swap basis for $85 and $105 per 1,000 cubic meters, respectively. According to the agreement concluded last December, Gazprom promised to deliver to southern Kazakhstan up to 3.5 bcm of Uzbek gas. However, most likely, Uzbekistan will reconsider the price for its gas in the second half of the year.

Whether the Aral Sea exploration project will yield Uzbekistan its long-sought after foreign investment and turn the country into a major oil-producing state in Central Asia remains to be seen. But its implementation in a densely populated region with longstanding disputes over water resources and conflicting interests of Russia and China is fraught with new tensions.

Farkhad Sharip is an independent journalist who lives in Alma-Aty, Kazakhstan.