This commentary provides background on Javakhetia, the ethnically Armenian region in southern Georgia, in order to establish that is not the next Karabakh and not another Abkhazia, and therefore neither flashpoint nor bottleneck for oil pipelines crossing the Caucasus from the Caspian to the Black Sea. Stability in Javakhetia is likely to continue, although in the long term there is a wild card: the Meskhetian Turks, a people deported by Stalin whose has been mandated to their homeland, which lies west of Javakhetia proper and east of Ajaria.
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Nearly two weeks ago, twenty-two individuals (twelve citizens of Russia and ten ethnic-Russian citizens of Kazakhstan) were arrested in Ust-Kamenogorsk in East Kazakhstan province. They were charged with planning an uprising to seize political power in the province and proclaim a republic called "Russian Land," autonomous of both Russia and Kazakhstan. The deeper significance of this group's arrest is not limited to only inter-ethnic relations in Kazakhstan or even problems of democratization in the country; it more importantly concerns relations between Russia and Kazakhstan and the future geopolitical configuration of Central Eurasia itself.
Continue reading "Kazakhstan's Ethnic Mix: Recipe for a Shatterbelt In Central Eurasia" »
This column continues the series on the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline agreements and their fall-out. Previous articles discussed the cost guarantee agreement, the Main Export Pipeline (MEP) agreement itself, and the agreement between investors and transit states. This week, I wish to interject remarks on the role of the Azerbaijan International Operating Company (AIOC). Future articles will continue discussion of the Istanbul accords, including the Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline (TCGP) for natural gas from Turkmenistan to Turkey and the problem of identifying sufficient oil to fill the MEP, as well as the construction contract and Iran’s recent moves to cut the cost of its swaps to the producer countries.
Continue reading "Just When You Thought Baku-Ceyhan Was Dead and Buried (4/7)" »