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CRS — Central Asia: Regional Developments and Implications for U.S. Interests

March 31, 2014 Comments off

Central Asia: Regional Developments and Implications for U.S. Interests (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

U.S. policy toward the Central Asian states has aimed at facilitating their cooperation with U.S. and NATO stabilization efforts in Afghanistan and their efforts to combat terrorism; proliferation; and trafficking in arms, drugs, and persons. Other U.S. objectives have included promoting free markets, democratization, human rights, energy development, and the forging of East-West and Central Asia-South Asia trade links. Successive Administrations have argued that such policies will help the states to become responsible members of the international community rather than to degenerate into xenophobic, extremist, and anti-Western regimes that contribute to wider regional conflict and instability. Soon after the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, all the Central Asian “front-line” states offered over-flight and other support for coalition anti-terrorism operations in Afghanistan. Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan hosted coalition troops and provided access to airbases. In 2003, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan also endorsed coalition military action in Iraq. About two dozen Kazakhstani troops served in Iraq until late 2008. Uzbekistan rescinded U.S. basing rights to support operations in Afghanistan in 2005 after the United States criticized the reported killing of civilians in the town of Andijon. The Kyrgyz leadership has notified the United States that it will not extend the basing agreement. U.S. forces will exit the “Manas Transit Center” by mid-2014 and move operations to other locations. In recent years, most of the regional states also have participated in the Northern Distribution Network for the transport of U.S. and NATO supplies into and out of Afghanistan.

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CRS — Central Asia: Regional Developments and Implications for U.S. Interests

November 26, 2013 Comments off

Central Asia: Regional Developments and Implications for U.S. Interests (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

U.S. policy toward the Central Asian states has aimed at facilitating their cooperation with U.S. and NATO stabilization efforts in Afghanistan and their efforts to combat terrorism; proliferation; and trafficking in arms, drugs, and persons. Other U.S. objectives have included promoting free markets, democratization, human rights, energy development, and the forging of East-West and Central Asia-South Asia trade links. Such policies aim to help the states become what various U.S. administrations have considered to be responsible members of the international community rather than to degenerate into xenophobic, extremist, and anti-Western regimes that contribute to wider regional conflict and instability. Soon after the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, all the Central Asian “front-line” states offered over-flight and other support for coalition anti-terrorism operations in Afghanistan. Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan hosted coalition troops and provided access to airbases. In 2003, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan also endorsed coalition military action in Iraq. About two dozen Kazakhstani troops served in Iraq until late 2008. Uzbekistan rescinded U.S. basing rights to support operations in Afghanistan in 2005 after the United States criticized the reported killing of civilians in the town of Andijon. In early 2009, Kyrgyzstan ordered a U.S. base in that country to close, allegedly because of Russian inducements and U.S. reluctance to meet Kyrgyz requests for greatly increased lease payments. An agreement on continued U.S. use of the Manas Transit Center was reached in June 2009. The Kyrgyz leadership has notified the United States that it will not extend the basing agreement when it comes up for renewal in 2014, and the Administration is moving operations to other locations. In recent years, most of the regional states also have participated in the Northern Distribution Network for the transport of U.S. and NATO supplies into and out of Afghanistan.

Country Analysis Brief: Kazakhstan

October 29, 2013 Comments off

Country Analysis Brief: Kazakhstan
Source: Energy Information Administration

Kazakhstan is a major oil producer, and estimated total liquids production was 1.64 million barrels per day (bbl/d) in 2013. The key to its continued growth in liquids production from this level will be the development of its giant Tengiz, Karachaganak, and Kashagan fields. Development of additional export capacity also will be necessary for production growth.

Although Kazakhstan became an oil producer in 1911, its production did not increase to a meaningful level until the 1960s and 1970s, when production plateaued at a nearly 500,000 bbl/d, a pre-Soviet independence record production level. Since the mid-1990s and with the help of major international oil companies, Kazakhstan’s production soared to more than 1 million bbl/d in 2003.

Regional Analysis Brief: Caspian Sea Region

August 27, 2013 Comments off

Regional Analysis Brief: Caspian Sea Region
Source: Energy Information Administration

The Caspian Sea region is one of the oldest oil-producing areas in the world and is an increasingly important source of global energy production. The area has significant oil and natural gas reserves from both offshore deposits in the Caspian Sea itself and onshore fields in the Caspian basin. Traditionally an oil-producing area, the Caspian area’s importance as a natural gas producer is growing quickly.

This report analyzes oil and natural gas in the Caspian region, focusing primarily on the littoral (coastal) countries of the Caspian Sea (Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Iran). A discussion of Uzbekistan is also included. While not a Caspian coastal state, a considerable amount of Uzbekistan’s territory, along with its energy resources, lies in the geological Caspian basins.

Aside from Azerbaijan’s oil production, the Caspian Sea largely was untapped until the collapse of the Soviet Union. With several newly independent countries gaining access to valuable hydrocarbon deposits, the different countries have taken diverging approaches to developing the energy resources of the area. At the same time, the lack of regional cooperation between the countries’ governments and few export options for Caspian hydrocarbon resources have slowed the development of Caspian oil and natural gas resources.

The combination of foreign investment and rising energy prices allowed the coastal countries to shift from diverting oil extraction for local use to supplying both regional and world oil markets. The ability of countries to export greater volumes of Caspian crude oil and natural gas will depend on how quickly domestic energy demand rises in those countries, how quickly they can build additional export infrastructure to global markets, and whether expensive projects to develop Caspian resources can attract sufficient investment.

CRS — Kazakhstan: Recent Developments and U.S. Interests

August 12, 2013 Comments off

Kazakhstan: Recent Developments and U.S. Interests (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Kazakhstan is an important power in Central Asia by virtue of its geographic location, large territory, ample natural resources, and economic growth, but it faces ethnic, political, and other challenges to stability. Kazakhstan gained independence at the end of 1991 after the break-up of the former Soviet Union. Kazakhstan’s president at the time, Nursultan Nazarbayev, was one of the top leaders of the former Soviet Union and was instrumental in forming the successor Commonwealth of Independent States. He has been reelected president of Kazakhstan several times and in June 2010 was proclaimed the “Leader of the Nation” with lifetime ruling responsibilities and privileges. Kazakhstan’s economy is the strongest in Central Asia, buoyed by oil exports. Its progress in democratization and respect for human rights has been halting, according to most observers. Nonetheless, Kazakhstan’s pledges to reform convinced the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to select the country’s leadership for its 2010 presidency.

According to the Obama Administration, the United States’ strategic aim in Kazakhstan is to help the country develop into a stable, secure, and democratic country that embraces free market competition and rule of law, and is a respected regional leader. Cumulative U.S. aid budgeted for Kazakhstan in fiscal years 1992 through 2010 was $2.05 billion (all program and agency funds), with Kazakhstan ranking fifth in aid among the 12 Soviet successor states. A large part of U.S. aid has supported Comprehensive Threat Reduction (CTR) programs to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Budgeted aid for FY2011 was $17.6 million and was $19.3 million for FY2012. Requested aid for FY2014 is $12.2 million (these latter amounts include foreign assistance listed in the Congressional Budget Justification for Foreign Operations, and exclude Defense and Energy Department funding; country data for FY2013 is not yet available). Among congressional actions, foreign operations appropriations since FY2003 have barred assistance to the government of Kazakhstan unless the Secretary of State determines and reports that Kazakhstan has significantly improved its human rights record. A waiver on national security grounds has been exercised in recent years.

Reportedly responding to a U.S. appeal, the Kazakh legislature in May 2003 approved sending military engineers to assist in coalition operations in Iraq. The 27 troops trained Iraqis in demining and water purification. They pulled out of Iraq in late 2008. Since 2009, Kazakhstan has permitted air and land transit for U.S. and NATO troops and equipment—as part of the Northern Distribution Network—to support stabilization operations in Afghanistan. In mid-May 2011, the Kazakh legislature demurred on sending some military officers to take part in noncombat missions in Afghanistan, citing popular opposition to sending such personnel to Afghanistan. In 2012, Kazakhstan agreed to facilitate the egress of troops and material from Afghanistan.

CRS — Central Asia: Regional Developments and Implications for U.S. Interests

October 23, 2012 Comments off

Central Asia: Regional Developments and Implications for U.S. Interests (PDF)

Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

U.S. policy toward the Central Asian states has aimed at facilitating their cooperation with U.S. and NATO stabilization efforts in Afghanistan and their efforts to combat terrorism; proliferation; and trafficking in arms, drugs, and persons. Other U.S. objectives have included promoting free markets, democratization, human rights, energy development, and the forging of East-West and Central Asia-South Asia trade links. Such policies aim to help the states become what various U.S. administrations have considered to be responsible members of the international community rather than to degenerate into xenophobic, extremist, and anti-Western regimes that contribute to wider regional conflict and instability.

Soon after the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, all the Central Asian “front-line” states offered over-flight and other support for coalition anti-terrorism operations in Afghanistan. Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan hosted coalition troops and provided access to airbases. In 2003, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan also endorsed coalition military action in Iraq. About two dozen Kazakhstani troops served in Iraq until late 2008. Uzbekistan rescinded U.S. basing rights in 2005 after the United States criticized the reported killing of civilians in the town of Andijon. In early 2009, Kyrgyzstan ordered a U.S. base in that country to close, allegedly because of Russian inducements and U.S. reluctance to meet Kyrgyz requests for greatly increased lease payments. An agreement on continued U.S. use of the Manas Transit Center was reached in June 2009. In recent years, most of the regional states also participate in the Northern Distribution Network for the transport of U.S. and NATO supplies into and out of Afghanistan.

Policymakers have tailored U.S. policy in Central Asia to the varying characteristics of these states. U.S. interests in Kazakhstan have included securing and eliminating Soviet-era nuclear and biological weapons materials and facilities. U.S. energy firms have invested in oil and natural gas development in Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, and successive administrations have backed diverse export routes to the West for these resources. U.S. policy toward Kyrgyzstan has long included support for its civil society. In Tajikistan, the United States focuses on developmental assistance to bolster the fragile economy and address high poverty rates. U.S. relations with Uzbekistan—the most populous state in the heart of the region—were cool after 2005, but recently have improved.

Congress has been at the forefront in advocating increased U.S. ties with Central Asia, and in providing backing for the region for the transit of equipment and supplies for U.S.-led stabilization efforts in Afghanistan. Congress has pursued these goals through hearings and legislation on humanitarian, economic, and democratization assistance; security issues; and human rights. During the 112th Congress, the Members may review assistance for bolstering regional border and customs controls and other safeguards to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), combating trafficking in persons and drugs, encouraging regional integration with South Asia and Europe, advancing energy security, and countering terrorism. Support for these goals also has been viewed as contributing to stabilization and reconstruction operations by the United States and NATO in Afghanistan. For several years, Congress has placed conditions on assistance to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan because of concerns about human rights abuses and lagging democratization (the Secretary of State may waive such conditions). Congress will continue to consider how to balance these varied U.S. interests in the region.

Country Analysis Brief: Kazakhstan

September 19, 2012 Comments off

Country Analysis Brief: Kazakhstan
Source: Energy Information Administration

With total liquids production estimated at 1.6 million barrels per day (bbl/d) in 2012, Kazakhstan is a major producer; however, key to its continued growth in liquids production will be the development of its giant Tengiz, Karachaganak, and Kashagan fields. Furthermore, development of additional export capacity will be necessary for production growth.

Rising natural gas production over the last decade has transformed Kazakhstan from a net gas importer to a country that as of 2011 was self-sufficient. Natural gas development has lagged oil due to the lack of domestic gas pipeline infrastructure linking the western producing region with the eastern industrial region, as well as the lack of export pipelines.

Kazakhstan is land-locked and lies a great distance from international oil markets. The lack of access to a seaport makes the country dependent mainly on pipelines to transport its hydrocarbons to world markets. It is also a transit state for pipeline exports from Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Neighbors China and Russia are key economic partners, providing sources of export demand and government project financing.

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