Sunday, October 27, 2013

The New Great Game Round-Up #26

The Great Game Round-Up brings you the latest newsworthy developments regarding Central Asia and the Caucasus region. We document the struggle for influence, power, hegemony and profits between a U.S.-dominated NATO, its GCC proxies, Russia, China and other regional players.

While China is building a New Silk Road and wrapping up deal after deal in Central Asia, India has so far failed to secure much-needed energy supplies from the region. Instability in Afghanistan and problematic relations with neighboring Pakistan complicate India's efforts even more since the country lacks direct access to Central Asia. New Delhi still dreams of the implementation of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan pipeline but this project has for now been suspended. In order to strengthen relations with the Central Asian states and to increase the current trade volume of merely $700 million a new, more pro-active approach is desperately needed, as Dr. Arvind Guptar, Director General of India's Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, recently argued. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh addressed this issue during his visit to Russia this week and made the case for closer cooperation between the two countries in Central Asia:
India looks forward for closer cooperation with Russia in Central Asia - India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

Events in central and southern part of Central Asia are important for security of both Russia and India. Currently India is strengthening its historical ties with Central Asian states and looks forward for closer cooperation with Russia in the region, he said.

The minister said that cooperation between Russia and India can play an important role in promoting peace, stability and economic development in Afghanistan. It may also be effective in dealing with common challenges such as extremism, terrorism and drug trafficking, he added. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The New Great Game Round-Up #25

The Great Game Round-Up brings you the latest newsworthy developments regarding Central Asia and the Caucasus region. We document the struggle for influence, power, hegemony and profits between a U.S.-dominated NATO, its GCC proxies, Russia, China and other regional players.

Millions of labor migrants, in particular from Central Asian countries, travel to Russia in search of work. This has triggered xenophobia and hate attack, as once again demonstrated by this week's mass riot in Moscow after the stabbing of a 25-year-old Russian:
Over 380 detained after anti-migrant riot in southern Moscow

Moscow police said they detained some 380 people during the mass rioting in a southern district of the city. A mixed crowd of nationalists and locals attacked a warehouse run by natives of the Caucasus, blaming a migrant for the fatal stabbing of a local.
© Photo RIA Novosti/Anton Denisov

Local authorities responded by closing the attacked warehouse and arresting 1.200 migrants. Sergey Sobyanin, the Mayor of Moscow, supports tougher measures against illegal migration and there have been several raids targeting migrant workers in the Russian capital in recent time. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The New Great Game Round-Up #24

The Great Game Round-Up brings you the latest newsworthy developments regarding Central Asia and the Caucasus region. We document the struggle for influence, power, hegemony and profits between a U.S.-dominated NATO, its GCC proxies, Russia, China and other regional players.

This week's presidential elections in Azerbaijan ended with the expected result. Incumbent President Ilham Aliyev was officialy reelected, winning almost 85 percent of the vote. Few would have mentioned the fraudulent elections and the crackdown of the Aliyev regime on the opposition if the Azerbaijani authorities had not committed a blunder [emphasis mine]:
Oops: Azerbaijan released election results before voting had even started

Even still, one expects a certain ritual in these sorts of authoritarian elections, a fealty to at least the appearance of democracy, if not democracy itself. So it was a bit awkward when Azerbaijan's election authorities released vote results – a full day before voting had even started.
© Photo AP/Sergei Grits

So even Aliyev's close allies in Washington were forced to back the observations made by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Unimpressed by the Azerbaijani version of democracy, monitors of the pan-European rights watchdog criticized "serious" and "overwhelming" violations during the elections:
Observers Find Violations at 'All Stages' of Azerbaijan Elections  
Observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe identified voter intimidation, a restrictive media environment during the election campaign and violations at all stages of the voting process in a preliminary report on the elections released Thursday.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The New Great Game Round-Up #23

The Great Game Round-Up brings you the latest newsworthy developments regarding Central Asia and the Caucasus region. We document the struggle for influence, power, hegemony and profits between a U.S.-dominated NATO, its GCC proxies, Russia, China and other regional players.

Afghanistan's northeastern province of Badakhshan and its role in Washington's plans for the region has been one of the major issues discussed in the weekly round-ups. In the last few days Badakhshan was again making the headlines with heavy clashes between Taliban and Afghan security forces erupting in the remotely located province. Taliban fighters succeeded in taking control over Kuran wa Munjan District which sparked new concerns about of the security of the upcoming Afghan elections:
News Analysis: Security to remain major threat ahead of Afghan elections
To demonstrate its ability to disrupt the polls, the Taliban fighters overran Kuran-o-Manjan District in the relatively peaceful Badakhshan province over weekend, prompting the Interior Ministry to promise that necessary preventive measures would be taken ahead of elections.
© Photo AP/Rahmat Gul