One's personality is both a composition and reflection, but if I have to choose one of them, I will choose reflection as the "self" is more important to me than "me". One's composition may change, walking across the cultural landscapes and climbing the social ladder but one's self is tied to one's reflections. The fun part is that reflections are not bound to "Time-Space" barriers ( it is not time-space) and respective mental constructs, which have grown so thick over ages, that they had reduced the image of humans to Sisyphus, rolling different sizes of boulders on hills of different heights.… As the name of this Blog indicates, knols are my perspectives on topics of interests, sweet/bitter experiences or just doodling :)
Sunday, January 1, 2012
Central Asia's changing perspectives
Central Asia is the largest landlocked region on earth and is the heart of Asia. By lying in between Russia, China, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan it is the cradle of power, economy and security. Due Soviet occupation of the area and reliance on marine routes for trade and projection of power Central Asia lived in shadows. The emergence of new states created not only change the geopolitical situation but also geo-economical situation. The vast deposits of gas, Copper and Uranium make this area an attractive region for energy hunger Europe and China. From one side emerging economy of the largest republic in the region, Kazakhstan indicate the fast growth capacity of this region however the emergence of new ethnic and ideological conflicts in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kirgizstan which stretch beyond the border of Central Asia into Afghanistan and Pakistan also show the instability of the region. It is called Central Asia because it lies in the center of Asia bordering on East to East Asia, On South to South Asia and somewhat West Asia, West to East Europe and Caspian Sea and on north to North Asia. Central Asia is mainly composed of five main countries of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kirgizstan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan.
Image Source: http://www.sairamtour.com/centralasia/CentralAsiaMap.gif
Water and ethnicity
Central Asia is not only home to landlocked countries but also to landlocked sea like Caspian Sea and Aral Sea. Adding to these two seas is the world’s Twelfth
largest lake, Lake Balkhash. This Amu Darya and Hari River is two largest rivers of this region which connect this region to Afghanistan and Iran. These two rivers and along with Syr Darya is the bloodline of this arid and semiarid region. The Fergana valley is most fertile area of this region which is irrigated by two rivers Kara and Naryn Darya which join to create Syr River. The fertility of this valley attracted Uzbeks, Tajiks and Kirgiz, three out ethnicities of the region to the valley. This ethnic diversity is one of the major sources of conflict in the region and today this valley is divided into three republics of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kirgizstan. Beside the ethnicity, the ideological and irrigating rivers are also the source of the conflicts. The effects of these conflicts can be sensed beyond Fergana valley into Afghanistan, Northwestern Part of Pakistan and also Xinjiang Province of China. In Soviet Period it was tried to solve the problem by changing the traditional multi-crop culture of into a single cash crop of the cotton and also by dividing the valley based on the ethnicities. This experiment failed and after Soviet era the valley is shifting to traditional multi-crop culture that is more sustainable. Though the geography and economy of the valley is linked however the fear of unrest makes Uzbekistan to close the border and divide the valley.
Though this region is conquered by Alexander and then Han Chinese but the fame and Power of this region came through Islamic civilizations and Descendant of Genghis Khan who have adapted Islam as their religion. The famous cities of Samarkand and Bukhara were the cradle of Islamic Civilization. During Islamic Period the Turks from this region spread to neighboring areas to spread Islam. The most phenomenons are conquering India and Byzantine Empire. The Timor Lang headed his army to South and Southwest to conquer India and found the Mogul Empire in India. Also Turks from this region headed south to collapse Byzantine Empire and make it the home of Turks that is modern Turkey. Due to Turko-Mongolian and Islamic military expeditions and also geographical ties we cannot separate the Central Asia from Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Mongolia and Xinjiang province of China and so it is not wrong to include them in Central Asia. The Russian and Subsequent Soviet occupation of the region separated it from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Mongolia, Iran and Xinjiang Province and pushed this region into dark shadows of isolation.
Playground of Big Powers;
Central Asia is resuming its history of playground for big powers. Currently it is the test ground for power projections and conflicts of interests between, Russia, China, USA and possibly EU. It is not only big powers but medium powers of region like, India, Pakistan, Iran and Turkey is also trying to expand their interests and increase their influence in the region. Before 1990, the world was much safer, as West and Soviet Union was balancing each other's power. However, the world, after 1990's are going to be increasingly more politically unstable, more insecure and economically declining. The Central Asia is suffering the worst of all. Which power is going to get greater share of the influence in the region depends on the share of the power in the security, political stability and economic cooperation in the region.
Changed Perspectives of Central Asia:
Once Genghis Khan grieved by poverty of his people due to isolation and harsh weather were looking to China, Persia, India and Middle East as sources of grains, cottons, people and gold as sources of power that were scarce on the plains of Central Asia. Silk Road which were connecting these settled areas were the source of his hope to change the fate of his people. He tried to do trade with neighboring Persia and China but settled people of these areas were not ready to do trade and share their riches with poor people of Steppe, so he was forced to use his last option and that is occupy.
Since that time a lot have changed. Industrialization has changed the nature of hunger. Grains and cotton have declined in importance as energy and minderal resources got importance. This time it is not Central Asian People looking to settled areas but the settled aread looking into Central Asia for more power. Energy and mineral hungry China, Europe, Russia, India, Pakistan, Turkey, South Korea and USA is looking to vast resources of these region.
From nature to human societies, everything has a capacity in specified time. Sure time changes the capacity as I mentioned in the previous paragraph. It is of no wonder that US, Europe and Middle East's economies are on decline. They have consumed their capacities. Unless they do not create a new space as digital technologies created immense space for growth, this decline will be there. Central Asia on the other hand remained unexploited. Its natural, geographical and human resources promise a lot of growth in this region. I can see how the focus of great players is going to increase in this region and it will bring both opportunities and conflicts in this region.
1. Central Asia Water conflict and Solution;
2. Central Asia on verge of conflict on water
3. Power Politics in Central Asia:
4. Mineral Resources of Central Asia and Europe (USGS)