Dangers ahead for Turkmenistan's massive gas reserves

Oct 20, 2008 02:00 AM

The report of the independent British auditors confirming that Turkmenistan possibly has the second largest gas reserves in the world is a double-edged sword. There are dangers ahead.
GCA (Gaffney, Cline & Associates) announced on 13 Oct that the Osman-Yoloton field in eastern Turkmenistan has at least 4 tcm of natural gas. The deposits could be as high as 14 tcm, they said.

This is great news because it will help build trust of foreign investors, provide input for multiple pipelines, and contribute handsomely toward making Turkmenistan a prosperous, stable and secure state. At the same time, the confirmation of huge gas deposits has increased manifold the dangers facing Turkmenistan.
There are four clear and present dangers that Turkmenistan must prepare to face:

Danger No. 1 -- The United States
With a financial crisis that threatens to melt the US economy down to the core, ever-deepening quagmire in Afghanistan, freshly brewing insurgency in Iraq, the humiliation suffered recently in proxy fight in South Ossetia and the unavoidable erosion of Monroe Doctrine, the United States is understandably desperate.
The troubling likelihood is that the US foreign policy goals and tactics in Greater Central Asia will either remain the same or change for the worse with Barack Obama voted into office.

"Meeting the Challenge: US Policy Toward Iranian Nuclear Development," a report issued in September 2008 by Senators Daniel Coats and Charles Robb for Bipartisan Policy Centre, advocates military action against Iran and says on page 69: "A deterrence strategy against Iran must also include enhanced access to military facilities in countries East, West, and North of Iran. This involves diplomacy with Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Turkey, and possibly Pakistan to gain their approval to host the US forces and support staff needed for military action. The United States has had access to some facilities in these countries for operations in Afghanistan, but Russian pressure has introduced interruptions and uncertainty in US access."
The report underlines, "The objective would be to enable US military as broad access as possible to Iran from all directions."

And, explains, "To accomplish this build-up, the Pentagon would need to develop regional capacity by improving host facilities to accommodate the assets needed for military action and also to increase and improve the offensive and defensive capabilities of potential coalition partners in the region. The United States would also need to build more interoperability in all domains to include tactics, techniques, and procedures, equipment, munitions, and information and intelligence sharing capability."
This document, combining the views of both Democrats and Republicans, is bound to find its way to the core of the US foreign policy for Greater Central Asia for the next administration and there is nothing good in it for Turkmenistan.

The ideal geographical location of Turkmenistan and its immense gas reserves are too powerful a combination for the United States to resist. Be wary, be absolutely wary, of the United States.
We are not saying this as an anti-American statement; it is simply a pro-Central Asia sentiment, a declaration of facts.

Danger No. 2 -- The big power rivalry
Actually, with all the gas reserves of Turkmenistan, there is no reason for rivalry among the suitors because there is more than enough for everyone. However, the United States, with its zero-sum mentality in everything, is more than likely to try to pitch Russia against China.
The Cold War was basically a state of mind at one level, and a camouflage for ugly intentions at another. This mentality is deeply rooted in the US establishment; the title changes, the story remains the same.

A cartoon, published by The Punch in 1878, is still relevant. The big powers always come as friends when they want something that you have. God help you if you trust them with closed eyes.
While friendship with all countries of the world is an embedded principle of the foreign policy of Turkmenistan, it would be prudent to remain on guard in any interaction with big "friends". This neighbourhood can do better without big "friends".

Danger No. 3 -- Afghanistan
Afghanistan is a danger to its neighbours and its dangerousness is the natural outcome of the presence of foreign troops in that wretched country. Its Taliban are cited as the reason why foreign troops should remain there, it is the logic that only literal idiots -- with IQ less than 40 -- can be expected to believe.
This is the second incarnation of Taliban in Afghanistan. As was the case the first time, the Taliban are the logical product of an impotent and corrupt central government, a government that is the puppet of a foreign power, bowing toward Moscow a decade ago and subservient to Washington now.

Les anyone forget, there was virtually no outflow of drugs from Afghanistan during the last two years of Taliban rule. Drugs, instability, and all other threats that Afghanistan poses to the Central Asian region are easily attributable to the presence of foreign troops.
Afghanistan is also a threat to Turkmenistan, more than ever now that huge Turkmen gas reserves have been confirmed by independent auditors. Some countries, most notably the United States, will keep pressing Turkmenistan for all kinds of corridors for "humanitarian" and "non-lethal" cargo to Afghanistan. It is a ploy that can be used to plant the seeds of trouble in Turkmenistan. Removal of foreign troops and formation of a national government that includes Taliban is the only solution to bring any peace to Afghanistan.

Danger No. 4 -- Religious organizations and NGOs
Turkmenistan would need to watch carefully all kinds of religious organizations and NGOs. While there are many religious organizations and NGOs that are doing exactly what they say they are doing, there are some dubious entities among them.
It would be wise to ban such religious organizations or NGOs where foreign funding, direct or indirect, is traceable. It doesn't matter whether this decision would be popular or not because popularity should not come at the expense of national security.

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