Archive for the ‘Central Asia’ Category

Petraeus seeking broad support for U.S. strategy

October 16, 2008

By David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Even before he takes command of U.S. military strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Gen. David Petraeus is reaching beyond the military sphere to encourage international support for stabilizing the region.
U.S. General David Petraeus addresses journalists after a meeting ... 
U.S. General David Petraeus addresses journalists after a meeting with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown at 10 Downing Street in London September 29, 2008.(Andrew Winning/Reuters)

Petraeus, whose innovative thinking is credited with helping save Iraq from civil war, met International Monetary Fund and World Bank representatives last week in preparation for new efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan, officials said.

The move, unusual for a military commander, underscores the Pentagon’s emphasis on unifying military, economic, political and diplomatic aid to help the two countries cope with militant violence and economic dislocation, officials said.

On October 31, the Army general will become head of Central Command, responsible for American military interests in 20 countries across the Middle East and Central and South Asia.

“The purpose (of the World Bank and IMF meetings) was to touch base and note the Central Command’s interest in supporting comprehensive approaches in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and others,” said a military official close to Petraeus.

His arrival at Centcom is widely expected to reinvigorate U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, where U.S. and NATO efforts face grave challenges from an increasingly confident Taliban.

The United States has 32,000 troops in Afghanistan, including 19,000 under Centcom command and 13,000 under NATO.

Petraeus will launch a 100-day assessment of U.S. strategy for Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq and other countries in the Centcom region once he takes over, officials said.

Read the rest:


China on rise in Central Asian ‘Great Game’

December 16, 2007

KHORGOS, Kazakhstan — The driver of the 18-wheel tractor-trailer from China idling at the Kazakhstan-China border said apples were the cargo he brought to Almaty, Kazakhstan’s booming commercial center.

Shoppers in Kyrgyzstan's second-largest city, Osh, can find Chinese toy vendors in the market. Cheap Chinese goods have turned many poor Central Asians into consumers. But some experts say dependence on Chinese products slows the growth of local industries.

For Kazakhs, there’s a tart irony in the shipment.

Almaty’s region is where the first apple trees were found and the first apple orchards planted. The city was a center of the Soviet Union’s s fruit industry. Its very name means “Father of Apples.”

In the past few years, Chinese fruit, vegetables, TV sets, T-shirts and tires have flooded markets along the old Silk Road in former Soviet Central Asia. Each day, all along the Chinese border, hundreds of tractor-trailers rattle west.

These goods are the most visible sign of Beijing’s growing power ….

Read the rest:

Missile defense in Europe can affect Central Asia – Lavrov

July 9, 2007

BISHKEK, July 9 (Itar-Tass) – The deployment of the US’ missile defense system in Europe can adversely affect the Central Asian region, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a meeting of foreign ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s member states in Bishkek.

“We see that consequences of the unilateral action will affect Central Asia, and we should take into account not only the membership of member countries, but also the interests of observers in this organization,” he said.

“We pay much attention to international security problems, and we make concrete decisions. I am convinced that the proposal of the Russian president (for the joint use of the Gabala radar station with the US) indicates the need for a comprehensive approach to this issue,” Lavrov said.

“Talking about the missile defense, it is necessary to take into account opinions of other states,” he said.

“The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is an organization that has formed not artificially, but naturally. It has formed on the basis of objective interests of the states that make it.”

Further work of the SCO will be “not for the sake of development of the organization, but for stability in the Central Asian region and in the interests of the organization’s member countries,” Lavrov said.