So lets begin
Before 1991, the states of Central Asia were marginal backwaters, republics of the Soviet Union that played no major role in the Cold War relationship between the USSR and the United States, or in Soviet Union's relationship with the principal regional powers of Turkey, Iran, and China. But, in the 1990s, the dissolution of the Soviet Union coincided with the re-discovery of the energy resources of the Caspian Sea, attracting a range of international oil companies including American majors to the region. Eventually, the Caspian Basin became a point of tension in U.S.-Russian relations. In addition, Central Asia emerged as a zone of conflict. Violent clashes erupted between ethnic groups in the region's Ferghana Valley. Civil war in Tajikistan, in 1992-1997, became entangled with war in Afghanistan. Faltering political and economic reforms, and mounting social problems provided a fertile ground for the germination of radical groups, the infiltration of foreign Islamic networks, and the spawning of militant organizations like the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). The IMU first sought to overthrow the government of President Islam Karimov in Uzbekistan, later espoused greater ambitions for the creation of an Islamic caliphate (state) across Central Asia, and eventually joined forces with the Taliban in Afghanistan. With the events of September 11, 2001 and their roots in the terrorist groups operating in Afghanistan, Central Asia came to the forefront of U.S. attention
The Great Game was a term used for the strategic rivalry and conflict between the British Empire and the Russian Empire for supremacy in Central Asia.
Crude oil, once seen as a wealth-creating blessing for mankind, is fast turning into the “devil’s tears”. The struggle to control the world’s remaining energy reserves increasingly culminates in bloody conflicts and the killing of innocent civilians, with the war in Iraq only being the latest example. In The New Great Game, Central Asia, known as the "black hole of the earth" for much of the last century. The Caspian Sea contains the world’s largest amount of untapped oil and gas resources. It is estimated that there might be as much as one hundred billion barrels of crude oil in the former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan alone.
The Taliban initially enjoyed enormous good will from Afghans weary of the corruption, brutality, and the incessant fighting of Mujahideen warlords. Two contrasting narratives explain the beginnings of the Taliban. One is that the rape and murder of boys and girls from a family traveling to Kandahar or a similar outrage by Mujahideen bandits sparked Mullah Omar and his students to vow to rid Afghanistan of these criminals. The other is that the Pakistan-based truck shipping mafia known as the "Afghanistan Transit Trade" and their allies in the Pakistan government, trained, armed, and financed the Taliban to clear the southern road across Afghanistan to the Central Asian Republics of extortionate bandit gangs.
Alhough there is no evidence that the CIA directly supported the Taliban or Al Qaeda, some basis for military support of the Taliban was provided when, in the early 1980s, the CIA and the ISI (Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency) provided arms to Afghans resisting the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and the ISI assisted the process of gathering radical Muslims from around the world to fight against the Soviets. Osama Bin Laden was one of the key players in organizing training camps for the foreign Muslim volunteers. The U.S. poured funds and arms into Afghanistan, and "by 1987, 65,000 tons of U.S.-made weapons and ammunition a year were entering the war."
Pakistan tribe agrees to hand over Taliban
KHAR, Pakistan (AP) — A tribe in a Pakistani region where the military has fought insurgents has agreed to stop sheltering foreign fighters and hand over local Taliban leaders, authorities said. Pakistan has previously signed such pacts with tribes in its northwest regions bordering Afghanistan, and they tend to unravel.
But Monday's agreement in the Bajur tribal area came after the army said it had defeated insurgents there after six months of fighting. Bajur is a rumored hiding place of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, and the offensive there has earned praise from American officials who are concerned that militants use Pakistan as a base from which to plan attacks in Afghanistan.
US sacks top military commander in AfghanistanThe top US military commander in Afghanistan was sacked today after both the Pentagon and the White House decided that “fresh thinking” was needed to win the war. General David McKiernan, who has spent just 11 months in charge of Nato forces in Afghanistan, will be replaced by Lieutenant-General Stanley McChrystal who previously led the special operations command and is credited with killing the leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Lieutenant-General David Rodriguez will be handed a new position of deputy commander of US forces in Afghanistan.
No one would have mentioned his name at all if President George W. Bush hadn't singled him out in public. Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, West Point '76, is not someone the Army likes to talk about. He isn't even listed in the directory at Fort Bragg, N.C., his home base. That's not because McChrystal has done anything wrong—quite the contrary, he's one of the Army's rising stars—but because he runs the most secretive force in the U.S. military. That is the Joint Special Operations Command, the snake-eating, slit-their-throats "black ops" guys who captured Saddam Hussein and targeted Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi.
Oil and gas is the leading economic sector. Production of oil and gas condensate in Kazakhstan amounted to 67.2 million tons in 2007, an increase from 64.5 million tons in 2006. Kazakhstan exported 60.2 million tons of oil and gas condensate in 2007. Natural gas production in Kazakhstan in 2007 amounted to 16.6 billion cubic meters. Kazakhstan holds about 4 billion tons of proven recoverable oil reserves and 3 trillion cubic meters of gas. Industry analysts believe that planned expansion of oil production, coupled with the development of new fields, will enable the country to produce as much as 3 million barrels per day by 2015, lifting Kazakhstan into the ranks of the world's top 10 oil-producing nations. Kazakhstan's 2005 oil exports were valued at $17.4 billion, representing over 70% of overall exports. Major oil and gas fields and their recoverable oil reserves are Tengiz (7 billion barrels); Karachaganak (8 billion barrels and 1,350 billion cubic meters of natural gas); and Kashagan (7-9 billion barrels).
The Great Game Revisited
Iran, which sits on the world's second-biggest gas reserves, imports roughly about as much gas as it exports. U.S. sanctions have been a factor hindering Tehran's export plans, which tries to become a major gas exporter.
An Iranian Oil Ministry official has said he hoped that the commencement of gas delivery would start five years after the contract was signed, adding both Iran and Pakistan would welcome India if it decided to join the project.
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Originally posted by tristar
If simple guidelines are enforced then i do feel that such a thread will gather its momentum and perhaps inform the viewers on how country's negotiate without any direct talks.
This is my opinion and my opinion alone, as i do not represent any person(s).
Somewhere beneath the valley’s floor lies one of the world’s biggest untapped copper deposits, estimated to be worth up to $88_billion (£44 billion) – more than double Afghanistan’s entire gross domestic product (GDP) in 2007. In November, a 30-year lease was sold to the China Metallurgical Group for $3 billion, making it the biggest foreign investment and private business venture in Afghanistan’s history. Last week the Afghan Government approved the contract, clearing the way for the revival of an industry that dates back to Alexander the Great.
Shahzada Zulfikar, a Quetta-based political analyst, said Taliban commanders continue to receive support from Pakistan¡s powerful and secretive intelligence agencies, as they did openly during the time of the Taliban government.
"Pakistan ditched the Taliban due to American pressure, for a while, but now there are fears that their relationship might be restored."
While Pakistan still provides a safe haven for the anti-government Afghan fighters as it did when the Mujahedin were fighting the Russians, there is now a new twist to the Great Game. The Russians, it appears, are on the same side, not on the receiving end.
The Taliban resurgence in Pakistan’s lawless provinces and its unhindered march towards the heartland of the restive country is fueled by an ever increasing economic life-line. Unlike Afghanistan’s Taliban, which depends on the poppy trade for revenues, the robustness of the Pakistan Taliban’s financial strength depends on a variety of sources, ranging from the timber trade, precious stone mining and now, the imposition of a religious/protection tax collected from minority religious communities.
Elements in the Iranian state are sending weapons across the border to the Taleban in Afghanistan, a BBC investigation has uncovered.
Taleban members said they had received Iranian-made arms from elements in the Iranian state and from smugglers.
NEW DELHI: India faces a greater threat from China than Pakistan because New Delhi knows little about Beijing’s combat capabilities, India’s air force chief told a newspaper in an interview published on Sunday.
The world’s two most populous nations fought a brief but brutal war over their 3,500 km (Himalayan border in 1962, and both sides claim the other is occupying big but largely uninhabited chunks of their territory.
India has also been pursuing closer relations with the United States, something that worries China.
WASHINGTON: Satellite images issued yesterday show Pakistan has expanded two sites crucial to its nuclear program, as part of an effort to bolster the destructive power of its atomic arsenal, according to a US arms control institute report.
The images show a big expansion near Dera Ghazi Khan of a chemical plant complex that produces uranium hexafluoride and uranium metal, materials used to produce nuclear weapons, Institute for Science and International Security analysts said.
And at a site near Rawalpindi, photos suggest Pakistan had "added a second plutonium separation plant adjacent to the old one", according to the report.
It also says Pakistan has been building two new plutonium production reactors in recent years.
ISLAMABAD - Pakistan is denying U.S. claims that it's expanding its nuclear arsenal.
At a congressional hearing last week, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff said there is evidence Pakistan is adding to its nuclear weapons systems and warheads.
A growing insurgency linked to al-Qaida and the Taliban is raising fears militants might get hold of Pakistan's nuclear weapons or material.
Pakistan's information minister, however, says his country doesn't need to expand its arsenal, but will "maintain a minimum nuclear deterrence" needed for its defense and stability.
He also assured the international community his nation's arsenal is safe, saying, "No one, no matter how powerful and influential" will succeed in capturing the weapons.
The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs on Wednesday approved tripling U.S. economic aid to Pakistan to about $1.5 billion a year for each of the next five years, including money for Pakistani schools, the judicial system, parliament and law enforcement agencies.
The legislation, which will now go to the House floor and would ultimately have to be reconciled with a similar Senate bill, also authorized $400 million in annual military aid for the next five years.
"We are very clear, very firm and quite convinced that none of our aid will in any way affect the efforts of Pakistan regarding their nuclear stockpile," Clinton told U.S. lawmakers without saying whether Pakistan is expanding its arsenal.
"We are absolutely committed not to seeing any diversion of our money," she added.
Originally posted by mrmonsoon
I always thought the great game, as you call it, was between the US/NATO and Russia.
Russia went into Afghanistan, the US sent stingers
[..] done mainly to cause issues for Russia
(I think a good deal of payback to this is involved in Russia's assisting Iran with nuclear technology)
[..] I don't think we really care who runs what country, as long as they "play ball" with us.