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What is the SCO position on the U.S. presence in the region? SCO members say U.S. bases in the region, established in the wake of 9/11, were not meant to be permanent and were only installed to assist the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan. China and Russia have chafed at the U.S. military presence in Central Asia, an energy-rich region both consider within their sphere of influence. After uprisings in Ukraine, Georgia, and Kyrgyzstan unseated leaders loyal to the Kremlin, Russia views the U.S. presence in the post-Soviet region, including the eastward expansion of NATO and its growing presence in Afghanistan, with increasing suspicion. Many in Moscow argue these so-called color revolutions were the work of U.S.-funded nongovernmental organizations. Beijing sees the U.S. military presence along its western border as part of Washington's strategy to contain China, experts say
according to this report the pact was signed on june 15 2006 and Russian ‘Spetznaz soldiers’ (special forces) guard all the key nuclear facilities.
A regular meeting of the Council of Heads of Member States of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (CHS SCO) took place on 28 August 2008 in Dushanbe.
President of the Republic of Kazakhstan N.A.Nazarbaev, Chairman of the People’s Republic of China Hu Jintao, President of the Kyrgyz Republic K.S.Bakiev, President of the Russian Federation D.A.Medvedev, President of the Republic of Tajikistan E.Rakhmon, President of the Republic of Uzbekistan I.A.Karimov were in attendance.
President of the Republic of Tajikistan E.Rakhmon chaired the meeting.
Secretary-General of the SCO B.K.Nurgaliev and Director of the Executive Committee of the SCO Regional Antiterrorist Structure (RATS) M.U.Subanov participated in the meeting.
Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations Organisation M.Jenca, Chairman of the Executive Committee – Executive Secretary of the Commonwealth of Independent States S.N.Lebedev, Deputy Secretary-General of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation T.I.Buzubaev were in attendance.
Heads of delegations from the SCO observer states – President of the Islamic Republic of Iran M.Ahmadinejad, Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas of the Republic of India M.Deora, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia S.Oyun, Advisor to the Prime Minister with the rank of Federal Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan M.A.Durrani, as well as guests of the host state – President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan H.Karzai,
The heads of state exchanged opinions on international issues and the regional situation. Broad convergence or similarity of positions was noted which was reflected in the Dushanbe Declaration.
The Memorandum on partnership relations between the Interbank Association of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and the Eurasian Development Bank was also signed.
Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the Agreement on cooperation among the governments of the member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation on combating illegal circulation of weapons, ammunition and explosives.
Central Asia's Other 'Turkmenbashis'
By F. Stephen Larrabee
SANTA MONICA, California — A dictator's sudden death almost always triggers political instability. But it is doubly dangerous when it poses a risk of regionwide destabilization and a scramble for influence among the world's greatest military powers — the United States, Russia and China.
The sudden death in late December of Saparmurat Niyazov, Turkmenistan's authoritarian president-for-life who declared himself "Turkmenbashi" (Leader of all Turkmens), jeopardizes stability in a country that is an increasingly important supplier of energy to Europe. Worse, given the absence of a clearly designated successor and the weakness of civil society and other political institutions, his death could have repercussions across Central Asia.
Indeed, Niyazov's demise highlights the broader problems of Central Asia's post-Soviet regimes, which, with the exception of Kyrgyzstan, are run by Soviet-era bosses who, while not nearly as eccentric or egomaniacal as Niyazov, tolerate little dissent or opposition. Most of them are old, some of them are unwell. So, in the next few years, Central Asia will face leadership change on many fronts, with security apparatuses — which, as in Turkmenistan, have been crucial to buttressing these countries' regimes
How these transitions turn out will matter for several reasons. First, Central Asia is an important source of energy. The Caspian region accounts for 2 percent to 3 percent of the world's known oil resources — about equal to that of North Sea oil. While far smaller than the deposits in Saudi Arabia or Iran, Caspian oil could prove important if oil production falls or is reduced for political reasons elsewhere.
Much of this Caspian oil is in Kazakhstan, giving that country a critical role in the regional energy market. Moreover, Kazakhstan's strategic importance has increased as a result of recent revelations that the country's Kashagan oil field will produce 25 percent more than initially expected at peak production.
Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan are also major exporters of natural gas. Russia depends heavily on Turkmen gas for domestic consumption and export abroad, which could prove vital as demand rises over the next decade.
Second, Central Asia's leadership transitions could tempt outside powers to exploit the resulting instability and spark a struggle for influence. Because the region was part of both the Soviet Union and the Russian empire, President Vladimir Putin's Kremlin regards it as part of Russia's natural sphere of influence. Putin's efforts to transform Russia into a major energy power and use energy as a tool of Russian foreign policy make the region all the more strategically significant.
Moreover, China has sought to improve trade and transit ties with Central Asia over the last decade, reflecting its growing interests there. Not only is the region important for meeting China's growing energy needs, but the Chinese authorities also are concerned about separatist pressures among the Uighur population in Xinjiang province and the impact of ties with Uighurs in neighboring Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.
Like Russia, China wants a reduction of the U.S. military presence in Central Asia. Both powers have sought to use the
Shanghai Cooperation Organization — a regional grouping that includes Russia, China, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan — as a vehicle to pressure the U.S. to withdraw its military forces from the region.
However, this cooperation represents a short-term, tactical marriage of convenience rather than a budding new strategic alliance. In the long run, Russia and China are likely to be rivals for power and influence in Central Asia.
Iran could also view the transitions in Central Asia as an opportunity to expand its regional influence, particularly given its close ethnic and cultural ties with Tajikistan and its long border with Turkmenistan. And, like China and Russia, Iran has no desire to see the U.S. fill any security vacuum that could emerge as a result of leadership changes in Central Asia.
Pakistan and India — especially the latter — will also watch carefully how the transitions play out. Both countries have growing strategic interests in the region. Like China, India views Central Asia as an important future energy supplier. As a result, India has quietly begun to strengthen its military ties to countries in the region, particularly Tajikistan, where it has a small base.
the transitions in Central Asia could have a strong impact on U.S. interests. As long as the U.S. remains involved militarily in Afghanistan, access to facilities in Central Asia will remain important. With the loss of the use of the base at Karshi-Khanabad in Uzbekistan, access to Manas airfield in Kyrgyzstan has become the main means of re-supplying U.S. troops in Afghanistan from Central Asia.
However, the political situation in Kyrgyzstan is far from stable. Discontent with President Kurmanbek Bakiyev's rule is rising. A leadership change or increased Russian and Chinese pressure on Kyrgyz leaders could precipitate calls for a renegotiation of the agreement regarding access to Manas — or even demands for its termination altogether.
In the 19th century, the struggle for mastery in Central Asia between the Russian and British empires was called "The Great Game." Today, there are many more players involved, and the stakes — energy security, above all — are far higher now. America, India, Europe and Japan will face increasing tension between their short-term military need...