The Hizb ut-Tahrir is a popular and growing movement in Central Asia which to date (Sept.2007) is less violent then the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan/Turkestan has been so far. In fact the Hizb ut-Tahrir paradoxically directly address the concerns of the people, such as the growing inequality of wealth, unemployment and a lack of political rights. Its aims are anachronistic, even atavistic. Yet it is the very 'other-worldly' and idealistic nature of Hizb ut-Tahrir that perhaps explains its appeal.
Under the Soviets, there were campaigns designed to eradicate Islam from Central Asia.' By the 1930S, there were fewer than a hundred mosques still operating and no madrassahs. To win hearts and minds to the socialist cause, the Soviets introduced education for all and a health-care programme. They industrialized the towns, mechanized agriculture and expanded irrigation. Having brought all the Central Asian states into one polity, communications were improved and there was an increase in the internal trade of goods. Raw materials poured north into the Soviet heartland, while thousands of Russians were resettled to manage and administrate the reforms and new industry. The aim was clear: wean the Central Asians from 'reactionary' Islam and convert them into urbanized proletarians. The Basmachi revolt and other Middle Eastern resistance had indicated that Islam was a mobilizing force, capable of unifying people against Soviet rule. Any unrest might provide an opening for foreign intervention, as had occurred during the Russian Civil War. As the Cold War developed, this became a more pressing concern. Eager to prevent a radical version of Islam from emerging, the Soviets subsequently created a closely regulated 'official' Islam. State-approved mullahs and registered mosques were established. Muslim holy days were marked, and there were invitations to Middle Eastern religious leaders to discuss how Communism and Islam might be compatible (an experiment attempted at Baku in 1920 with little success). Islam came under one final onslaught in the mid-1980s under Gorbachev, and accused once again, of being an anti-modern influence. For the Central Asian republics' leaders, Islam continued to be a potentially radical force, capable of mounting mass protests and overthrowing the authorities - as had happened in Iran in 1979 and Afghanistan in the 1980s.
The fact that Islam had gone underground in the Soviet era has assisted the more radical Islamist groups since the 1990S in their opposition to the Central Asian governments. Devout Central Asians had continued various religious practices in secret, and Soviet officials, with clan connections to those involved in Sufi activities, ignored what was going on or participated themselves. This collusion reinforced a sense of difference from an all-pervasive Russian influence and was also reflected in the systems of patronage that survived throughout the Soviet era. Clan loyalties ensured that, regardless of Party membership, certain groups could dominate the echelons of local power, be that in administration, in the running of local collective farms or in industry.
In the 1980s, religious beliefs, clannishness and national identity were transformed. In Moscow, Gorbachev's policy of restructuring and candour was interpreted as an opportunity to express new identities and aspirations. While he did not approve of Islam, he was unable to prevent the spread of feelings of nationalist and Islamic distinctiveness.3 Yet perestroika also coincided with the closing stages of the bitter Soviet War in Afghanistan. Many returning Soviet soldiers had expressed sympathy for the courageous and determined resistance of the Afghan mujahedin. A few Muslim soldiers had defected and joined the fighters, and here they came across the austere, intolerant Salafest Wahhabi doctrine of the Arab volunteers. Some young men, inspired by the idea of defying the Soviets, headed for Pakistan to study. The form of Islamic teaching they were exposed to did not resemble the Sufi or moderate Sunni traditions of Central Asia: it was the radical Deobandi ideology, which advocated a new world order, created, if necessary, by a jihad. These two ideologies might not have taken root so easily, however, had it not been for the conduct of the wars in Afghanistan and, later, Chechnya. The widespread destruction of property, the deaths of thousands of civilians, the exodus of 5,000,000 refugees and stories of atrocities and torture began to radicalize Central Asia. Returning soldiers and those who had fought for the mujahedin had been steeped in a particularly ruthless experience. Young Afghans, who then endured a twelve-year civil war, had no other skills than those connected with conflict. In short, a whole generation had been mobilized, radicalized and militarized.
Crucially, young men from Central Asia and Afghanistan made contact with and learned from other Muslims from no less than 43 countries. It is estimated that as many as 100,000 men from around the world fought in the Soviet-Afghan War; tens of thousands attended Pakistani madrassah complexes, often travelling up into the Northwest Frontier Province for guerrilla training. Central Asians were often given free accommodation and instruction. Not only did they hear from Palestinians and Arabs about alleged oppression by Israelis and Arab oligarchies; they were indoctrinated with the Deobandi philosophy.
Deobandism had emerged in the nineteenth century in British India, inspired by anti-colonial and anti-Western resistance. A strict Sunni sect, the Deobandis disapproved of Shi'ism and of any form of liberation of women. In the 1960s, radicals were advocating a modern form of jihad and resistance to Western modernism, and, noting the mobilizing of the Iranians in their 1979 revolution, the Deobandis began to advocate the formation of a mass movement that would build into an irresistible jihad.4 With the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989, the Deobandis were convinced that it was they, by force of will and divine providence, who had achieved victory. They failed to acknowledge the financial and military support of the us. Nor were they prepared to admit that their radical philosophy had to be imposed by force on the people of Afghanistan, using the backing of Pakistan, with the consequence that Afghans were condemned to years of terror, poverty and ruin. To the Deobandis, all that mattered was the waging of jihad and the radical purification of the faith. The Deobandis found common cause with the Saudi Salafest Wahhabists in the interpretations of Islam. Salafi Wahhabis are bitterly opposed to the 'heresy' of Shi'ism and Sufism in South-west Asia.5 In their world-view, women are virtually invisible, while men are expected to conduct themselves soberly and with dignity, since maintaining prestige is a critical element to their society. It is interesting to note that the Saudi regime aligned itself with Wahhabi Islam from the outset and is compelled to act in accordance with the wishes of a very conservative ulema. Osama bin Laden, although a Saudi, has family roots in Hadramawt in Yemen, and it is here that the most austere forms of Wahhabism still exist. Women, for example, are largely confined to large accommodation complexes and rarely appear in public. In a sense, it is curious that such conservative figures could embrace such a populist, radical version of Islam, but the answer lies in a wounded sense of pride, envy for the mobilization of Iranians and Afghans, and a desire to assert their religion and culmre - which they believe to be the only true way of life - over the successful and powerful modernists of the West and East Asia. Salafis are angry at the Arab regimes for failing to adhere to the strictest forms of the faith, for failing to defeat heretical sects and for tolerating the presence of Westerners (and Israelis) in the 'land of the holy places'.
However, Deobandism and Wahhabism have not been accepted by all Central Asians. The Tajik Islamic opposition, for example, drew their inspiration from the resistance of Ahmad Shah Masoud, the Tajik-Afghan who fought the Soviets and then the Taliban. Masoud embodied a moderate version of Islam and Tajik national identity.6 The IRP was founded in 1991 with the aim of spreading Islamic belief, promoting a spirimal revival and assisting with the economic independence of Tajikistan. In contrast to the Taliban and other radicals, it favoured democracy rather than an Islamic state. It openly supported popular opposition to the government during housing riots, and proyided food and blankets to protestors, which led to the toppling of the government of President Nabiev in September of the same year. When the civil war broke out, the lRP formed guerrilla bands in the mountains, and they evenmally helped form the post-war coalition government. The IRP was less successful elsewhere. In Kyrgyzstan, it only managed to recruit from the Uzbek population in the rural south.
In Uzbekistan, itwas undermined by more radical movements, such as Tauba, Islam Lashkarlary and Adolat, and suffered a loss of momenmm when its leader, Abdullah Utaev, went missing in 1992; it is alleged that he was murdered by the Uzbek secret service. In Kazakhstan, the IRP was dominated by non- Kazakhs - which hampered its appeal- and it failed to get established at all in Turkmenistan. Millions more are deterred by the violence of Deobandi and Wahhabi Jihadists, and today there is little support for such haughty, alien beliefs. Some Central Asian governments, particularly Karimov's in Uzbekistan, have chosen to label all opponents of the regime as Wahhabi terrorists. This generalization may help to explain why an idealistic but largely peaceful new movement known as Hizb ut-Tahrir, also imported from South-west Asia, is taking root in Central Asia.
Hizb ut-Tahrir however,wants to see the establishment of a single, unified caliphate across Central Asia, from Xinjiang Province to the Caucasus. Ultimately they wish to see the entire Muslim world united as one umma without national borders. They long for the reconstruction of the Khilafat-i Rashida, the empire that lasted from 632 to 661, shortly after the life of the Prophet. This period is held in special reverence because it appeared to be a more pure, spiritual age when Islam had not been sullied by sectarian division or modem influences. To achieve a multi-ethnic single polity, Hizb ut-Tahrir's followers believe that creating a mass movement will eventually overwhelm one of the regimes of Central Asia or the Middle East. Having established one unified state, they argue, others will inevitably follow. Sheikh Abdul Qadeem Zallum, a prominent leader of Hizb ut-Tahrir, states his aim as 'transform[ing) Muslim lands and this has to be done by re-establishing the Khilafah'.7 Hizb ut-Tahrir feel that the Prophet Mohammed provided a blueprint for overthrowing regimes in that, first, he spread his message secretly; second, the revelation was espoused openly; and third, he launched a jihad. Hizb ut-Tahrir argue, rather inaccurately, that the Prophet also faced propaganda and foreign sanctions, and that his followers suffered torture, just as Hizb ut-Tahrir's members do in the early 21st century.
Hizb ut-Tahrir do not just suffer from a selective and historicist misunderstanding of the early career of Muhammad; they conceal a far more sinister plan. The organization was founded in 1953 by Sheikh Taqiuddin an-Nabhani Filastyni, a Palestinian who had graduated from Al-Azhar University in Cairo before becoming a school teacher and then a judge. 8 He was forced to flee Palestine soon after the creation of the State ofIsrael and established the movement in Jordan. In his writings, he described a Muslim world divided and unable to conceive of any other form of political system than 'depraved' democratic nation states. An-Nabhani was convinced that nationalism was a barrier to Muslim unity and strength. He was the first to argue that, by following the life of the Prophet, a strategy could be developed for overcoming the differences of the Muslim world. This in itself was wholly idealistic since Muslims were divided on sectarian and ethnic grounds (not to mention between classes and cultures) as much as by 'Western' notions of national identity. What was more disturbing, perhaps, was the celebration of the period of Arab expansion. Although a thrilling time for the advocates of Hizb ut-Tahrir, the empire was achieved by a process of war, conquest and, in many cases, forced conversion. Thousands of 'unbelievers' were slaughtered. And if the Khilafat-i Rashida was the model to emulate, the fact that it only survived for 30 years would surely suggest that there was something inherently weak about it.
The movement believes that enlisting massive numbers of supporters will help to avoid violence, but it conceals its ultimate objectives. By sheer weight of numbers, its members argue, it will be able to overwhelm regimes. Certainly, the Uzbek authorities take this threat seriously enough to arrest and intimidate members of Hizb ut-Tahrir, but it difficult to see, in light of the government's determination to break up opposition groups and maintain its exclusive hold on power, how a series of mass protests can succeed. There seems to be a similar utopianism when it comes to the form of the caliphate the movement desires. It would a politically centralized empire, governed by one man and advised by a religious council, or shuTa. The Caliph would rule as a were a dead, stifling hand on the Muslim world. Their conservatism brought to an end an era of Muslim scientific scholarship and condemned the empire to stagnation. Hizb ut-Tahrir seems eager to reestablish such a system, although they seem less willing to tolerate non-Muslims within their empire. For all their criticism of Western colonialism and secular dictatorship, they seem to wish to embrace the idea of imperialism and dictatorship on their own terms.
Perhaps the most absurd misinterpretation of history favoured by Hizb ut-Tahrir is their belief that Ataturk, the architect of Turkish modernism, was little more than a puppet of the West and its Jewish allies. The demise of the Ottoman Empire was, they argue, brought about in part by the conquests of the Western Allies in the closing stages of the First World War, but the final destruction of the Islamic state was carried out by Ataturk in the 1920S. They fail to mention that a modernist movement, the Young Turks, had already begun to change the Ottoman regime from within, before the First World War, in 1908. Nor do they mention that Ataturk, far from being a puppet of the West, went to war with Greece in 1919-22 over the territory of Smyrna and was prepared to fight the British on the Dardenelles in the famous Chanak Incident (1923) as part of his assertion of national independence. Ataturk carried out extensive reforms and abolished the old Ottoman systems of administration, emancipated women, introduced national education and established a Turkish national identity. It is these measures which Hizb ut-Tahrir so deride.
The organization is virulently anti-Israel to the point of anti-Semitism, belying its Middle Eastern roots. Karimov of Uzbekistan is even described as a handmaiden of the Zionist world conspiracy and is accused of maintaining a front for Israel. Thus Hizb ut-Tahrir wants to see the removal of all Jews from Central Asia, even though their ethnic cleansing would uproot a portion of Central Asian society that has been in the region for 2,000 years. To Hizb ut-Tahrir they simply 'do not belong here'.11 A similar fate awaits the Shias and Sufis. Traditionally, Central Asian Islam has always been tolerant of different practices, but these foreign, strident beliefs represent a wave of Islamist radicalism that is sweeping across the Muslim world. In Indonesia and Malaysia, whose forms of Islam have also been historically tolerant, a similar process of radicalization is taking place. A more interconnected world, particularly in communications, has meant that many young Muslims are exposed to conflicts and injustices that were once distant and unknown. Now they are immediate and apparently 'local'. The obligations of Islam and strong traditions of solidarity mean that it is impossible to remain a spectator to disputes such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Chechen Wars or the battles over Lebanon.
Hizb ut-Tahrir is banned in most Muslim countries, and, in another paradox, it has therefore sought sanctuary in Europe. The multicultural, tolerant and cosmopolitan cities of the West have provided the sort of environment the movement lacks in its own homelands. It uses cities like London and universities across the UK to recruit, raise funds and spread its message.12 It is a well-organized group that has a strong appeal for young male Muslims. However, in Central Asia, Hizb ut-Tahrir is thriving in a more clandestine fashion. Its leaders' identities and locations are kept secret. Activists operate in seven-man cells, each one led by a cell chief. Only the chief knows the identity of the next layer of the hierarchy. The leader sets out the tasks of the group members, usually the formation of new daira (cells) as study groups and the distribution of propaganda. Such tight security is essential: Uzbek security police have been able to penetrate several cells by posing as recruits, although they have found it more difficult to identify and arrest the leaders. However, Hizb utTahrir does not rely on word-of-mouth contacts alone. They like to use the shabnama (night chronicle), a newsletter pushed through letterboxes at night by activists. Posters are also put up at night. Hizb ut- Tahrir now also makes extensive use of modern communications technologies to spread their message. Videos, CDS, printing and photocopying facilities and email are all used.
The movement has had to learn how to win over the public after a faltering start. Hizb ut-Tahrir did not appear in Uzbekistan until 1995, when a Jordanian calling himself Salah'uddin recruited two Uzbeks in Tashkent and began distributing Arabic leaflets in the city's underground. Few could read the texts, but translations were soon available and new cells were established in the capital, then in Ferghana, and eventually in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Hundreds have been arrested for belonging to the organization, but Hizb ut-Tahrir estimates its membership to be in the tens of thousands. Others put the figure closer to just 7,000.13
The communications equipment and initial funding for the movement, like its ideology, is not indigenous to Central Asia but imported. The close approximation to the ideas and aspirations of the Salafi-Wahhabis is no coincidence. They reject the idea of the modem state, and the ideas of democracy, socialism and capitalism. They disapprove of many entertainments and cultural activities (such as music, dancing and even kite-flying). They claim that they do not deny women an education, but it seems they have a very limited view of the form this education should take -largely preparation for serving men. Olivier Roy noted that Hizb ut-Tahrir have a strong faith in Sharia law as the means to solve all their social ills.14 Like the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, there is really only one policy objective after the waging of jihad, and that is the imposition of Sharia.15 They do not, in fact, need to overthrow the state, since they aim to transform the state from within. By winning over the mass of the population to their way of thinking, they believe the regimes will collapse and offer no further resistance. They are somewhat arrogant in their beliefs, since they state that all other Islamist movements will eventually be proved wrong. Such notions are based on a misreading of the Koran, a claim that the Prophet predicted that there would eventually be seventy-three Islamic movements, only one of which would be right. The Koran actually states there should be a group that 'invites to the good, orders what is right and forbids what is evil - and they are those who are successful' and makes reference to the idea that, since not all are beli~vers, only a few will be favoured.16 There is no mention of any number, and the passage refers to the need to be guided to do what is right and good, as that is the true measure of a person's success.
Hizb ut-Tahrir is a well-organized movement and has been successful in distributing literature throughout Central Asia, but it draws its strength from urban, more educated elements of society. Students, teachers, urban workers and men in their twenties are well represented, as records of their arrests indicate. Hizb ut-Tahrir has less support from rural populations, where the more radical IMU and IRP enjoy some sympathy. Nevertheless, it is unclear how much backing Hizb ut-Tahrir has from personnel within the administration, army, intelligence services and police. Officially, of course, it is an illegal organization, but Ahmed Rashid suggested there may be some who favor the movement.'?
In 1998, following the Law on Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations, the government of Uzbekistan launched a crackdown on all Islamist suspects. It was declared illegal to preach Islam. All mosques and imams had to be registered. Women were arrested for wearing the hijab, and thousands of men with beards were questioned. Men travelling to Pakistan, or who had more than one wife, were also subject to interrogation. Many were arrested. Even fathers whose sons were suspected to be members of Hizb ut-Tahrir or other Islamist organizations were arrested. The following year, fifty-five death sentences were awarded and fifteen executions took place; some of those convicted were members of Hizb ut-Tahrir. The movement stated, in wildly exaggerated figures, that 100,000 members were imprisoned. The American Human Rights Report and the Independent Human Rights Organization of Uzbekistan estimated that the figure was nearer 5,000.'8 But prisoner numbers increased so dramatically that a new incarceration unit was established at Jaslik in the autonomous region of Karakalpakstan. It is overcrowded and has polluted water which infects the inmates with hepatitis. Prisoners are made to work on forced-labor wojects and cannot pray or read the Koran. There have been accusations of torture and estimates of around 50 extrajudicial deaths. The Uzbek authorities regard the imprisonment of more than 5,000 members of Hizb utTahrir, and a further 1,600 members of the insurgent IMT and their Wahhabi allies, as a success. What is of concern to human-rights organizations is the high number of apparently innocent practicing Muslims and civil rights activists who are imprisoned, as well as the general conditions and treatment of all political prisoners.
The Uzbek government encourages the use of informers, the MahalIa, to assist in the policing of the state.'9 In 2000, itwas estimated that there were 10,700 suspected 'enemies of the state' in the country. Yet, as other historical examples show, denunciations and informing on neighbours or strangers has a dynamic of its own. In the end, it does not matter how many actual enemies of the state there are: what happens is that people believe that informers are everywhere and society becomes obsessively self-regulating and self-policing. No one dares to speak out or criticize; almost everyone is eager to conform. If suspects are arrested, the human rights organizations believe, beatings and torture are common. In some cases, beatings are carried out to extract confessions. There have been allegations that electric shocks are administered, and victims are almost suffocated. Some have died during these sessions. The police are not above planting weapons, drugs, ammunition or inflammatory literature in order to make an arrest, get a conviction or sometimes just to extract a bribe. These tactics are not unknown in other Central Asian states when dealing with religious organizations or democratic activists. In Azerbaijan, for example, democratic-opposition members were arrested, beaten up, intimidated and kept under surveillance during the election period of October 2003.
The centre of Hizb ut-Tahrir's activities in Uzbekistan, other than in the capital, has been the Ferghana Valley, and this is also the focus of the movement's efforts in Kyrgyzstan. Trials of Hizb ut-Tahrir suspects have revealed the same range of activities: the distribution of propaganda texts, video and audio tapes and posters. The accused are men aged between 18 and 25; many were trained in Afghanistan alongside the IMT and the Taliban. Trials and Hizb ut-Tahrir literature have revealed their disgust with Christians in Kyrgyzstan, by which they mean hatred for~ ethnic Russians. They want to see churches demolished and the government punished for pandering to the immigrant Russian population, who make up 17 per cent of the country's people. They fail to realize that the economic consequences of ejecting the Russians in one go could be severe, as Tajikistan discovered in the civil war of 1992-6. Christian worship has increased in the north of the country, adding to the bitter annoyance of Hizb ut-Tahrir and thus fuelling ethnic tensions. In fact, there is already a deep-seated antagonism between the ethnic Uzbek population of southern Kyrgyzstan and the Kyrgyz themselves. A quarter of the population in the southern province, but as many as 40 per cent in the city of ash, are Uzbek. Hizb ut-Tahrir fails to acknowledge this obvious division because it does not fit into their world-view.
They continue to espouse their utopianism while the majority are concerned with government corruption, poverty and a lack of progress in solving the economic problems of the country. Yet it is the esoteric values of Hizb ut-Tahrir that are, in themselves, appealing. The people of Central Asia are likely to listen to a movement that offers even a vision of a brighter future while their actual prospects remain so grim. Young men especially look to a movement that offers them some empowerment, status and a higher cause. In Kazakhstan, Hizb ut-Tahrir leaflets appeared for the first time in the largest city, Almaty, in July 2001, prompting concerns that radicalism would spread in the country. Similar anxieties were voiced by the Tajik government when Hizb ut-Tahrir started to appear in the northern provinces. President Rahmonov has appealed to the more moderate IRP to condemn the radicals. However, the IRP has noted that Hizb utTahrir doesn't just appeal to disgruntled members of its own organization who are dissatisfied with the peace settlement after the civil war; it has also found strong support among a new generation of young men. Children of the civil war period, they look to Hizb utTahrir to give them an untainted introduction to Islam. Perhaps, unsurprisingly, some of these radical idealists have drifted into the ranks of the insurgent IMT.
One persistent question that has emerged in Western governments and intelligence agencies is whether Hizb ut-Tahrir is a terrorist organization. It denies any links with violent groups and argues that it has not been involved in kidnapping, bombings or insurgency training in camps. It states it has always advocated peaceful change. However, ideologically, it has much in common with organizations like the Salafest Wahhabis and the IMT. It does not espouse jihad in the way that Al-Qaeda does, but it envisages the same ultimate objective.20 It is therefore a question of ends and means. Hizb ut-Tahrir is, in many ways, the acceptable face of an intolerant political idea. Members of Hizb ut-Tahrir were co-located with the IMT in Afghanistan during the Taliban years, and they co-operated at every level.21 Drawn from the same countries and even the same clans, links perhaps inevitably developed. The Kyrgyz authorities state that Hizb ut-Tahrir literature was found on the bodies OfIMT fighters killed near the border, and they believe that Hizb ut-Tahrir members received military training in the same camps. The movement was sympathetic to its Taliban hosts. Here, after all, was the first state to fall to its ideology and the first to impose the sort of measures Hizb ut-Tahrir favoured: restrictions of women in public life; the imposition of a rough Sharia law; and the banding together of Afghans, Chechens, Arabs and other Central Asians in a common cause, albeit an exclusively radical and Sunni one. Hizb ut-Tahrir would also have approved of the fact that Sufis and Shias were persecuted. Nevertheless, they made a distinction from the sort of lifestyle the Taliban imposed. Where the Taliban favoured a life of rural austerity and preparation for the next life, Hizb ut-Tahrir wanted a more comfortable life on earth, the creation of a version of heaven on earth prior to the life hereafter.
The closeness of Hizb ut-Tahrir to the extremists is further revealed in their views on Osama bin Laden. Like many Muslims around the world, there is a degree of sympathy for a man who, forgoing his millions, stood up to the West and embraced a life of piety and sacrifice. One leading Uzbek member of Hizb ut-Tahrir stated, 'We have no special relationship with bin Laden, but he supports all Islamic movements in Central Asia and he is very famous here for doing So if Kyrgyz and Uzbek leaders argue that Hizb ut-Tahrir members met Osama bin Laden in September 2000 in Kabul, where, no doubt, he gave his blessing to their mission. Many of the rank and file of Islamist groups, in common with Islamists around the world, are prepared to believe any conspiracy theory against the West and are always prepared to give Osama bin Laden the benefit of the doubt. Some still convince themselves, in spite of all the contrary evidence, that somehow the us States orchestrated the attacks of 9/11 on themselves so as to launch a global war against Islam. Osama bin Laden was, so the theory goes, entirely innocent of the crime. Yet they are all prepared to admit that Al-Qaeda is essentially an ideology of resistance to the West and to apostate rulers which bin Laden and his confederates advocate and often fund or support. Inspired by his example and teachings, jihadists are prepared to carry out the most foul atrocities. Certain in their conviction that Allah approves of their 'defensive' measures, they kill and are killed in greater numbers.23 And yet, despite years of war, terrorism and 'martyrdom', the Islamists and their jihadist commandos are not one step nearer their goal of a united califate.
While advocating the 'peaceful jihad' of conversion and persuasion, members of Hizb ut-Tahrir are not above threatening violence. In fact, their role in supporting the insurgents of Central Asia is revealed in the following short statement. An Uzbek leader of the movement noted, 'ultimately, there will be a war because the repression by the Central Asian regimes is so severe and we have to prepare for that. If the IMU suddenly appears in the Ferghana Valley, HT activists will not sit idly by and allow the security forces to kill them.'24 The IMT insurgents are dependent upon local support to be able to move, as Mao Zedong once styled it, 'like fish through water'. It is likely that Hizb utTahrir supply the IMU, harbour them in safe houses and provide them with information. They also appear to embrace provocation. The same Hizb ut-Tahrir leader pointed out that intervention by Russian troops if there was a crisis in the governance of Uzbekistan (perhaps caused by the assassination or overthrow of Karimov) would play into the Islamists' hands, as it would 'expose everybody, force polarization and the war will begin'.25 This appears to be an argument in favor of civil war, a final settling of accounts that would result in an Islamic victory not unlike the Taliban's in Afghanistan in 1995-6. The consequences of an Islamist takeover would mean ethnic cleansing on a vast scale. But, like the Taliban, Hizb ut-Tahrir appears to be inept when it comes to economic matters, condemning the people of the region to worsening poverty and a perpetuation of war.
Rashid argued that legalizing Hizb ut-Tahrir might go a long way to solving the problem.26 It would force the movement to advocate actual economic and reform policies rather than vague promises. It might give them a stake in the future of the country and would therefore avoid a civil war. Yet, after 2001, the Uzbeks suppressed this movement and others even more ruthlessly. Members of Hizb ut-Tahrir tried in October 2001 were accused of being allies of AI-Qaeda as well as belonging to an illegal party. They received sentences of between nine and twelve years. Such convictions were designed to attract American support against a common enemy. Rashid believes that it is the regimes that need to change if there is to be less radicalism in Central Asia, but it is difficult to see what an incentive might be: faced with insurgency, terrorism and radical ideologues, do they really have any choice but to fight on? Reforms might look like a capitulation to extremism and an encouragement to push harder against a weakening regime. The Central Asian governments must hope that the radicals will lose momentum and fail to attract mass support.
It is more likely that economic performance holds the key to change in Central Asia. A fairer distribution of wealth, an abundant food, water and energy supply and a reduction in the severest security measures might swing the public mood away from the Islamists. At present, there is disillusionment, if not despair. Support for idealists reflects the degree of stress and hopelessness felt by the population. Hizb utTahrir itself is nevertheless doomed to failure. It will be unable to overcome the class, ethnic, clan and national divisions of the people of the region. It will be unable to implement its cherished caliphate or to fulfill the promises it holds out to so many young men and women. As a result, it is likely, as is already happening on a small scale, that some of these will join insurgent bands and fight the regimes. Already there is an established base of support for the extreme ideas of Salafi-Wahhabi Islam, sympathy for the Taliban and admiration for Al-Qaeda. It was precisely this breakdown of toleration and faith in radicalism that brought about the bloodiest conflict in modem Central Asian history: the Tajik Civil War.
Hydrocarbons and the Great Powers
As Steve LeVine describes in his new book “The Oil and the Glory “(to be released for general sale in a few weeks); “The collapse of the Soviet Union was a big opportunity for Big Oil.” In fact the Caspian Basin was one of the earliest sources of oil production in the world, with significant extraction beginning in the nineteenth century at which time Averell Harriman, “the Harvard-trained scion of nineteenth-century robber baron Edward Harriman,” tried his hand at the business before turning to manganese mining, while Armand Hammer “became a money launderer for the Bolsheviks, sneaked cash to secret Bolshevik agents in the United States, and profited handsomely as the representative in Russia of some thirty American companies.” Hammer set the tone for the Americans who flocked to the Caspian in the first years of the Clinton presidency, which maneuvered for the construction of an east-west oil pipeline that, by reversing the old pattern of Central Asian materials going north to Russia and coming back as products for sale, “would favor the West and disfavor Russia.” (Kirkus review of LeVine “The Oil and the Glory “).
Today, despite years of under-investment in the Soviet era, engineering difficulties and the problem of piping the oil and gas to markets outside of the region, the Central Asian fields are emerging as some of the most important in the world. This importance is not just based on the physical volume of oil and gas, estimated at 50 to no billion barrels of oil and 5 to 13 trillion cubic meters of gas (170 to 463 trillion cubic feet), but on the fact that the flow of Central Asian hydrocarbons could help to meet the burgeoning world demand and provide a surplus that would help regulate world prices in times of temporary shortage.27 For decades, the Saudi-based oil companies generated sufficient reserves to assist in the regulation of prices, pouring more oil into the markets if prices increased or reducing their own production when more oil was being sold from other areas such as Nigeria, Russia or South America. However, the rapid growth in consumption in the Asia-Pacific region in the last years of the twentieth and early years of the 21st centuries, and conflicts in South-west Asia, have all but eliminated the surplus reserves available in the Middle East. Attention has therefore focused on processing more oil but also on developing new fields for extraction, and Central Asia is under the spotlight. Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan have been successful in attracting significant investment from the West but Iran and China have also been eager to establish bilateral agreements with the republic to achieve 'energy security' - access to 'sufficient supplies prices, free from serious risk of disruption', and, where possible, ’strategic stocks' or reserves.28
The strategic importance of oil and gas is long established. And as LeVine reminds us in ‘The Oil and the Glory’, in both world wars, the Central Asian and Middle Eastern fields were crucial to the Allied war effort. The Central Powers in the Great War in the Second World War tried unsuccessfully to wrest control of the regions. Hitler's Wehrmacht fought desperately to open the Caucasus in southern Russia, and the Allies occupied the Middle East, including Persia, as a precautionary move. More recently there has been considerable speculation that America's policy of South-west Asia through expeditionary warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan is not just about neutralizing the foundations of extremi an attempt to restructure the region for two ends. One is to secure dominance of American investment in the oil industry, ' is to create 'energy security' for the us by encouraging the sale of hydrocarbons on the world market.29 However, this is a simplistic interpretation of the issues. Energy security depends a variety of factors, and the globalization of the oil industry relegate physically possessing oil reserves. Essentially, energy security depends on international prices, investment, security of demand, spare capacity and geographical diversification of production.
Globalization has tended to standardize oil prices around the world, ironing out the differences in cost produced by the quality of the crude, local taxation regimes, refining capacity and distances from producer to consumer. Prices have become the most visible aSI security for millions of consumers globally, and share price are contentious political issues. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEc) has been able to smooth increasing production in periods of relative shortage in reducing production in times of plenty. In each case, the not been affected: in periods of diminished production, oil but at higher prices. Since the oil crisis of 1973, energy security has become one of the leading policy issues of the industrialized nations. With burgeoning demand, the physical supply of oil is the main security concern. Current world production is approximately 85,000,000 barrels a day (bpd), and, despite the predictions of the International Energy Agency (lEA) that, by 2020, the world will be producing 120,000,000 bpd, Thierry Desmarest, the Chief Executive of Total, believes the global production will be struggling to exceed 100,000,000 bpd by that date. The world has 2.2 trillion 'proven' barrels in reserve but will consume 1.5 trillion in the period 2006-30. The daily consumption figure for the year 2030 is estimated to become 115,000,000 barrels. To meet the demand, the industry estimates that it will require $3.1 trillion of investment ($2.2 million replacing spent reserves, $260 billion on tankers and pipelines, and $410 billion on refineries). BP and Exxon Mobile believe that new technologies and the vast reserves still available will enable the world to meet its soaring demands.
However, there are some concerns. War and civil conflict can have a serious impact on production, as exemplified in Nigeria and Iraq in the early years of this century. Nationalist policies can also deter investment with Russia, Iran and Venezuela restricting access to foreign oil workers despite a general shortage of engineers and skilled workers. This has caused delays to vital oil and gas projects. There are some current technological problems still to be overcome. There is a shortage of deep-water drilling rigs, and costs for existing platforms are increasing. The need to repair or replace old infrastructure in existing fields is also a cause of delay and rising costs. Christophe de Margerie, Total's exploration chief and the next CEO, believed that it was not a question of nerves but a lack of engineers and problems in infrastructure that was likely to threaten the world's chances of meeting future demand.30
The IEA estimates that non-OPEC countries will increase production in the years 2006-15, but concerns about the scale of reserves mean they estimate a halving of the 55,000,000 barrels a day from these sources between 2015 and 2030. At the same time, the lEA believes that the costs of developing pipelines and tankers, and of developing Asia's oil and gas industries, will be in excess of $350 billion. The inter-relationship between oil prices and costs can have a significant effect on investment and production and, therefore, on growth. In the 1990S, for example, stable and low oil prices from the previous decade led to under-investment by the major companies. The effect of this was that the world industry was less prepared for the sudden increase in demand from the Asia-Pacific region and for the need to offset disruptions to the Middle Eastern supplies caused by the conflict in Iraq. Higher oil prices have traditionally encouraged national and international companies to invest, but the recent diversification of sources which have added new supplies to the market could cause prices to fall again. Such a situation means many countries are likely to depend more on OPEC to regulate production in order to keep prices, and therefore investment, stable. The development of the Central Asian industry could have a significant effect on this dependence. The Caspian and Central Asian region has considerable potential, but there are some strong deterrent factors to investment and exploitation because of certain 'risks' caused by the political climate. In the 1950S, the Soviet Union neglected oil exploitation in the Caspian as it sought to develop its Urals-Volga and western Siberian fields, which were, in fact, strategically more secure. With independence, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan have moved rapidly to attract investment and obtain markets for their supplies. The first challenge in this respect was to modernize the infrastructure of the industry in these countries. Lutz Klevemann, who visited the old Soviet Caspian platforms, noted: The offshore production site is in utter decay. The roads leading out to the open sea look like the aftermath of an intense artillery barrage. Our driver has to steer the Volga precariously around gaping holes, under which dirty, oil-soaked waves splash against the rotting stilts. Pipelines and oil reservoirs have rusted away, while crooked drilling towers of wood and steel are reminiscent of the first oil wells in Pennsylvania in the 1870s.31
There are also other concerns. There are serious disagreements about the legal status of the Caspian which threaten to disrupt production and development. There are fierce disagreements about the routing of oil and gas pipelines which carry financial and strategic implications. There are some anxieties about the political stability of the region, not least the potential for terrorist attacks on pipelines and installations, but there are also concerns about the lack of co-operation exhibited from time to time by Russia, the us, China and the Central Asian republics as each tries to assert its energy and strategic interests - a phenomenon sometimes referred to as the new 'Great Game'. In the Friendship Treaty of 1921, and reiterated in the Treaty of Commerce and Navigation of 1940, Persia and the Soviet Union agreed to close the Caspian to all other vessels of the world and to reserve a 19-kilometre zone close to their coasts for exclusive fishing rights. However, no national 'borders' were agreed, and, since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Central Asian republics have challenged the legality of the old agreements. Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNLOSC), any nation may claim up to 19 kilometers from its shore as its own territorial waters and up to 320 kilometers as an exclusive economic zone (EEZ). In the case of the Caspian, this would mean that a border could be drawn up that traced a line equidistant from the national coasts, and this would also apply to the resources that lie on the seabed. However, if the Caspian is defined as a lake, the law of the sea would not apply and the resources would have to be developed jointly, as a condominium. Unfortunately, this very definition is a cause of dispute.Until 2003, Iran's view was that all the littoral states should adopt a collective approach to the exploitation of the Caspian's resources. The simple explanation for this apparently well-meaning argument is that Iran's territorial waters, if defined by UNLOSC, would hold the least oil and gas reserves of all of the Caspian states. Tehran has maintained that the 1921 and 1940 agreements should hold good until new arrangements are settled between all the states, but this too suggests the prospect of giving Iran a larger share in any final deal. Iran has condemned bilateral agreements concluded by Russia and wants to see a sharing of the wealth generated. However, Iran appears to have accepted the division of the Caspian into national sectors while still claiming that it should have an equal share - 20 per cent of the surface and seabed - rather than a division based on UNLOSC. Nevertheless, it appears to have accepted that its policy line is in tatters. It has signed agreements with international companies for the exploitation of oil its own sector and, from June 2003, began to develop the resources in its own portion. Faced with a rapidly growing population, a deteriorating economy and increasing energy demands, Iran could not continue with its principled and defiant position any longer.
Iran has also called for the demilitarization of the Caspian. This seemingly pacific gesture is largely the result of a fear that Russia, if it felt threatened, would use its vast military resources to face down Iran. Tehran, which has been confronted by the West over its nuclear programme and is anxious about Western military forces in neighboring Afghanistan and Iraq, cannot afford to antagonize Russia or engage in an arms race. In 2002, this was starkly illustrated by an aggressive Russian naval exercise on the Caspian. Since 2001, Turkmenistan has acquired 20 patrol boats from Ukraine, while Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan have procured American naval hardware. The US Navy also provided personnel to Azerbaijan to advise on the protection of Azeri oil installations. Iran protests frequently about American influence in the region, but the fact is it can do little to assert itself politically or militarily against either the US or Russia. Until 1996, Russia believed that UNLOSC did not apply to the Caspian, and it looked to maintain the 1921 and 1940 agreements. However, in that year Moscow concluded a number of bilateral agreements with other states and favored the division of the sea into distinct national sectors some 70 kilometers from each coast. The remaining central portion, it believed, could be developed jointly, administered by a joint stock company that would represent the five littoral states. However, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan rejected the proposal, so Moscow changed its position again. In 1998 Russia advocated the median-line approach (based on UNLOSC) and concluded a deal over the northern Caspian with Kazakhstan, even though this line cuts across several potential oil and gas fields. Curiously, Russia and Kazakhstan agreed to maintain common ownership over the surface waters to avoid complications with shipping, fishing and the environment. In January 2001, Russia concluded a similar agreement with Azerbaijan over the south-western Caspian. In 2002, Putin and Nazarbaev of Kazakhstan cemented their 1998 agreement with a deal to divide three gas fields on an equal basis. Just one year later, LUKoil and Gazprom, two of Russia's largest companies, announced their intention to start exploiting the Tsentralnoye gas field in 2007.32 Iran and Turkmenistan protested about these agreements. Despite arms sales and co-operation over nuclear technology, the Caspian thus remains a bone of contention between Tehran and Moscow.
American concerns about Iran's nuclear programme initially centered on the combination of Tehran's fiery rhetoric against the West and Israel, and its apparent desire to acquire a WMD. However, Paul MacDonald argues that Iran is facing an energy crisis that makes its quest for nuclear power valid and pressing.33 Iran has been unable to sell its heavier crudes, it has major technical problems in its newest fields which have delayed production, it has fewer reserves than it anticipated, and it has failed to meet its OPEC demands. Iran was in the curious position of having to import 150,000 bpd to satisfy domestic demand in 2005-6. It annual rate of increase in consumption is 5 per cent, but its production increased by only 100,000 bpd between 2000 and 2006. The peak of Iranian oil production was in 1974, when it managed 6,000,000 bpd, but it has struggled to exceed this level, and its ambitious targets that were to be realized in 2005 have not been met. In the later 1970S, production levels continued to be driven up, but the 1979 Revolution and subsequent war with Iraq caused a sharp downturn in production. The anticipated recovery was slow to materialize, and production rose from 1.5,000,000 bpd to only 3,000,000 bpd in 1990. In 2006, production stood at 3.9 million bpd, still well below its meyday in 1974 and significantly lower than its target of 5 million bpd. One of the key problems was that re-injection of gas into oil fields was interrupted, leading to the ingress of water, known to the industry as 'coning', which caused the loss of millions of barrels of oil. Iran also overestimated its reserves to attract investment. Despite a survey carried out by the National Iranian Oil Company in the 1970S, which identified 62 billion barrels of proven reserves, the Revolutionary government raised its estimate to 93 billion barrels in 1988, and in 2003 it announced that it had an estimated 132.5 billion barrels. However, it is thought that Iran's four offshore fields and some of its older onshore ones have already peaked in terms of capacity, and that, despite the discovery of new fields, its actual reserves may be about half that claimed by Tehran. In addition, heavy 'sour' crudes have proved unattractive to the market. 'Buy-Back' schemes, in which companies act as service providers in return for oil, have been delayed. Some investors have been deterred by Iranian politics or the offer of low rates of return, known as 'upstream difficulties' in the industry, and American companies are unable to co-operate with Iran under the Iran Libya Sanctions Act 1996 (ILSA). Iran is looking to use gas to offset its shortfall in crude production, but it cannot completely fill the gap. The South Pars field is expected to produce 125,000 bpd of condensates rising to 200,000 bpd in 2007 and 400,000 bpd in 2008. There is also the potential for Iran to increase its production via Gas-to-Liquids, but investment for these is expensive and may not be cost-effective. Iran may therefore be looking to nuclear power to close the gap in demand. The government in Tehran, which expects increasing opposition if the economic situation deteriorates further, seems utterly committed to nuclear processing for its survival. This may be in addition to its desire to regain some military strength in the region at a time when America appears hegemonic.
The Central Asian republics of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan have a common policy line driven by their estimation that the seabed closest to their coasts contains more oil and gas than that of either Russia or Iran. Moreover, developing hydrocarbons is regarded as an essential component of generating national wealth, and therefore of sustaining political independence. The opportunities created by eager international investors are also too tempting to ignore (Kazakhstan attracted $40 billion in foreign investments in 2003), and they have given the republics more confidence in challenging the Russians.34 Azerbaijan has consistently regarded the Caspian as a sea and called for the division of national sectors along a median line. In 1997 Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan agreed to delimit their sectors in this way. Kazakhstan then led a similar division with Turkmenistan. The following year, the Kazakhs concluded a deal with Russia to divide the northern seabed, and in 2001 Azerbaijan followed suit in the south. The only stumbling block seems to have been a dispute between Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan as to the exact positioning of a median line. Thus, while none of the Caspian states have ever agreed on the status of the Caspian, Iran has been faced with a fait accompli. Oil companies have also tended to ignore the lack of an agreement and forged ahead with developing the resources, but full exploitation has yet to be realized. Part of the problem lies in the shipment of oil and gas once it has been extracted and refined: the land-locked nature of the Caspian means that it is impossible to utilize the world's existing tanker fleet; instead pipelines must be established across thousands of kilo meters in order to access the world's markets. With billions of dollars at stake, in terms of costs or potential profits, the pipeline issue has become one of the most contentious in recent years.
The routing of pipelines represents a considerable opportunity for the Central Asian states and their neighbors. Oil and gas are more readily available for domestic use if pipelines cross national borders. There are substantial amounts of foreign capital, the possibility oflucrative transit fees, more local employment and even strategic advantages: states which depend on the flow of hydrocarbons are vulnerable to the demands of those that have pipelines running across their frontiers. However, since Central Asia's pipelines need to cross a number of international borders and the stakes are so high, the negotiations are particularly fraught.Formerly, Central Asian oil was routed into the Soviet Union. A pipeline crossed the Caucasus and terminated at the Black Sea coast of Novorosiisk. However, in 1991 the Central Asian states were concerned that continuing to route their oil and gas exclusively through Russia made them vulnerable and only promised access to Western markets. To take advantage of the burgeoning demands of Japan and China, it was proposed that a second pipeline be opened up eastwards from Kazakhstan to China, while a third pipeline could be constructed through Afghanistan to Pakistan, where it could be shipped on to Eastern markets. Another pipeline was proposed to run due south from the Caspian into Iran, while a final project envisaged a line from Baku across the Caucasus, where it would be routed either to Ceyhan on the Turkish coast or to the port of Supsa in Georgia. Each of these projects had to be prioritized, costed and debated between oil companies and governments. The positions of each player have been partisan.
From the 1990s, the US favored the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTc) route as a priority.35 This reflected their desire to avoid Iran and Russia, their regional rivals, rather than take costs and engineering into consideration. The project was approved in 2005, and the Americans envisage the BTC to be the Main Export Pipeline to the West's markets with a million barrels a day being pumped along its route. Most of the oil that the pipeline will carry will come from Azeri fields, such as Azeri-Chirag and Gunashi, but the Kazakhs also expect to be able to utilize the line. It is expected that a gas pipeline will subsequently be co-located, and this will terminate at Erzerum in Turkey, although Greece and Turkey have concluded a deal that will transport gas beyond Turkish shores into the European market. Turkey is particularly keen to act as the transit state for Europe's hydrocarbons, which it sees as a means to enter the European Union 'club'. Equally, European states are anxious to see a diversification of sources for European energy. When President Putin reminded EU leaders in 2005 that Russia was the main provider of European gas and was likely to remain so, the response was frosty. Russia, understandably, initially opposed the BTC project. In 2001, however, Moscow's position changed as it sought co-operation, not confrontation, from American oil companies. The stimulus was, in November 2001, the completion of the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (cpc) route. Running for 1,500 kilometers from Tengiz in Kazakhstan to Novorosiisk, the oil is subsequently pumped into tankers for global distribution. American expertise and funding, particularly from Chevron-Texaco, had been crucial in developing the Tengiz field (along with Exxon Mobil and Kazakhstan itself), and the logical next step was to get the oil from Kazakhstan by the most pragmatic and cost effective means. Kazakhstan, which lacks refining capacity for its enormous reserves, still depends on Russia for the bulk of its exports. The CPC is unlikely to be able to cope with the growing export capacity, however, and the Kazakh government have looked to China, which overtook Japan as the world's second-largest oil consumer in 2003, as a likely partner for its surplus. A pipeline deal has been concluded that will see a new route established from Atasu in Kazakhstan to Alashanku in China. Begun in 2003, the project is due for completion in 2008.
Kazakhstan has, like Russia, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan, also engaged in 'swaps' deals with Iran. Despite the obvious advantages of a southern pipeline, including the short distance to the refining installations in the Persian Gulf, the us has consistently opposed any Iranian route. The solution has been to ship Central Asian oil to Iranian ports, particularly Neka, where the fuel is refined (in Tehran and Tabriz) in return for an equivalent volume of oil that can be picked up by the companies' tankers in the Gulf at Kharg Island (with quality differentials taken into account). This saves the Iranians having to pump oil from its southern fields to its population centers in the north, and allows the oil companies to avoid the expense of a pipeline. In 1997, the deal did not function entirely smoothly because of disputes over the quality of Iranian crudes, but the system resumed in 2002. Kazakhstan's hydrocarbons industry stands out as the region's greatest energy success story. In 2003, production of crude oil and natural-gas condensate amounted to 51.2 million tons, an increase of almost 9 per cent on the previous year. Exports of oil and gas condensate amounted to 44.3 millions tons, valued at more than $7 billion. The proven oil reserves are calculated to be 4 billion tons with a further 2,000 cubic kilometers of gas. It is thought that this potential could translate into 3,000,000 bpd by 2015, lifting Kazakhstan into the top ten oil producers of the world. Its oil and gas exports now account for 65 per cent of the country's total, and generates 24 per cent of Kazakhstan's GDP. All this, and a carefully managed monetary policy, means that GDP is likely to triple in 2015 compared with 2000. The annual growth rate is over 9 per cent, making it the second fastest-growing economy in the world in real terms. That said, there have been significant delays in exploiting Caspian resources compared with land-based fields. Some doubts have been cast on the Kazakh forecast that it could, in conjunction with Azerbaijan, supply 100-120,000,000 tons of oil annually from the Caspian. This estimate did not include a further 50,000,000 tons pumped to the Black Sea coast.
The delays immediately led to increased speculation about the feasibility of the BTC route and its alternatives. American and Turkish estimates were based on the idea that, since the Bosphorus could ship no more than 70-80,000,000 tons a year, the BTC route was essential. However, investments were dependent on accurate calculations of the volume from the Caspian. Delays to the commissioning of the pipeline announced by the Azerbaijan State Oil Company (ASDC), and assessments that the construction would take at least 32 months, coincided with estimates in 2005 that Azerbaijan might only be able to produce between 15 and 17,000,000 tons a year: a volume regarded as 'too little to fill up the pipe'.36 The situation was worsened by the speculation that Ukraine was about to start pumping oil from Odessa to Brody to Gdansk, that a pipeline might be built from Burgas in Bulgaria to Vlore on the Adriatic, and another constructed from Burgas to Alaxandroupolis in Greece, all of which would favor a Caspian-to-Black-Sea pipeline (via the northern coast), not the BTC. The Burgas- Vlore route allegedly attracted the interest of American companies like Exxon Mobil and Chevron-Texaco, both of which are involved in exploiting Kazakh oil and are eager to avoid the chokepoint of the Bosphorus. Yet the American and Turkish governments continued to press for the BTC and $130,000,000 was pledged for preparatory work. The ports of Vlore and Alexandroupolis have, in the industry's estimation, the same potential as Ceyhan. The rivalry over pipeline routes highlights Russia's determination to assert its influence in the region and to acquire a substantial share of the potential profits.
Turkmenistan, which possesses gas as its main hydrocarbon reserve, is far more dependent on pipelines than Iran or the us, and that has made it too vulnerable to Russia. Until the late 1990s, all Turkmen gas was routed via Russian pipelines, but Gazprom, the leading Russian gas company of the region and the owner of the pipelines, is a rival of the state-owned Turkmen gas industry. The Russians cut off access to these lines over a payment dispute in 1997. However, in 2003, the two countries signed a long-term contract, the terms of which allow Turkmenistan to sell an incremental volume of its gas to Gazprom. The volume of Turkmen gas exports to Russia has increased since then. Nevertheless, the government in Ashgabat has been unsuccessful in finding alternatives to this Russian stranglehold. Its hopes for a route to Pakistan via Afghanistan were dashed by the continuing conflict between the Taliban and its opponents. Despite the defeat of the Taliban in 2001, instability has deterred investment, and the chances of realizing the framework agreement, signed by Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan in December 2002, looks bleak. The other alternative for Turkmenistan has been to develop its links with Iran. A 199-kilometrelong gas pipeline from Korpezhe-Kurt Kui was opened in 1997, but it lacks the capacity to export a great volume of Turkmenistan's surplus. The pipeline controversy is further complicated by the issue of energy security. Clearly it is in the interests of both consumers and suppliers to diversify routes to avoid disruptions caused by technical problems or political disputes. It also makes states like Turkmenistan less vulnerable to Russian leverage. Yet, terrorism also means that alternative energy pipelines are essential. Terrorists threaten the region's political stability, but they can also be tempted to attack pipelines because of the disproportionate effect this can have on a government's economy, a point exemplified in Iraq after 2003. On the other hand, pipelines are an expensive burden on oil companies that affects profitability. This problem is worsened by the strategic interests of Russia, the us and the republics, as these can threaten to override the economic priorities. However, as the BTC example demonstrates, pragmatism can break the impasse. American and Russian companies look set to continue their co-operation to exploit Caspian resources, and Russia has shown its willingness to sign bilateral agreements with the Central Asian republics rather than maintain a position of principle that was economically damaging. As the volume of oil and gas production increases, and the demand continues to rise, it is likely that, in most cases, financial arrangements will assert themselves over strategic ones. The exception to this, at least in the short term, is likely to be the dispute between the US and Iran, which has deepened because of the nuclear issue.
There is an eeriness about the approach to the Aral Sea. Rusting hulls of trawlers at Muynak, which once floated in coastal waters, now lie on sand dunes some 100 kilometers from the dying lake. On Vozrazhdenie Island, the Soviets had built a biological-weapons factory; they were eager to close the region to outsiders when Gary Powers flew his U2 spy plane over the sea and revealed the existence of the plant. This had the effect of concealing the environmental disaster that was unfolding. The sea had begun to recede from the late 1950s, when Soviet irrigation schemes were expanded, but the once-thriving fish-canning industry gradually dwindled, the 60,000 fishermen put out of business and the ships abandoned. The local population faces increasing infant mortality and rising cancer rates because the water supply is so badly contaminated. Sandstorms are more frequent, causing respiratory illnesses. It is estimated that the sea will disappear altogether by 2020. The Aral Sea disaster is one of the greatest man-made environmental catastrophes. The construction of the Karakum Canal to feed the cotton fields of Turkmenistan, the impossible targets set by Soviet planners, the waste of water through unlined irrigation channels that are also open to the sun, and the construction of reservoirs upstream in Uzbekistan have all contributed to the sea's death. For years, Soviet planners were unconcerned because yields of cotton were so high. However, salination of fields have rendered many barren, and the toxicity of the water supply has killed off flora and fauna in the sea and the surrounding area - and caused acute damage to human health. Soviet planners believed that they could divert water from the Db and Irtysh rivers to refill the Aral, a project that would have required the construction of a canal 1,600 kilometers long. The plan was stifled by bureaucrats. Uzbekistan argues that it cannot do without the freshwater supply for its cities, and Turkmenistan argues that the Karakum Canal is an economic lifeline. Both believe that they need water for their growing populations, so the sea continues to disappear.
Central Asia is badly affected by pollution after decades of exploitative agricultural and industrial activity. The storage of toxic waste in open sites, which are invariably unprepared, leads to a steady leakage of dangerous chemicals into the atmosphere, underground and surface water systems, and soil. In Kazakhstan, environmentalists identify several 'zones of crisis' caused by nuclear-weapons testing in the years 1949-61 and by petrochemical production.37 At least twelve of the cities with a population exceeding 100,000 are subject to radioactive threats to health at a dangerous level. Radioactive slag heaps, totaling 50,000,000 tons, litter the landscape, and there are 267 sites where radioactive pollution lies between 100 and 17,000 microRads/hr. Kazakhs tend to regard the slag heaps as a source of housing or road materials and use them freely. Other dumps of industrial by-products, some from the metallurgy sector, also threaten water supplies, soil and human health. Even natural radiation appears to be hazardous. Half of the country has yet to be surveyed for radon, which can reach dangerous levels. The Soviet Union authorized the use of strong pesticides, and it is thought that over 500 tons of 'unfit' pesticides are still stored around the country. Kyrgyzstan has fewer radioactive slag heaps, although the town of Mailuu-Suu in the west of the country is badly affected, and the mountainous nature of the country tends to funnel pollutants into areas of population. However, there are problems with the storage of dangerous pesticides throughout rural areas, and environmentalists are generally concerned that seismic activity makes surface storage of hazardous materials very risky. A similar situation prevails in Tajikistan, where pesticides have been used to increase yields in melon and cotton cultivation, although here there has been a sharp decline in their use in recent years. Nevertheless, there is a significant correlation between the use of these pesticides and the appearance of malignant tumours and other illnesses. Perhaps it is not surprising, given the intensity of farming in the Ferghana Valley, that soil and animal pollution from pesticides is also a problem for Uzbekistan.
Kazakhstan has responded to its environmental damage with surveys and monitoring of pollution levels, and an agreement with China (which had a nuclear test site at Lop Nor) to carry out collaborative investigations into the effects of nuclear-weapons tests on the environment. Monitoring of those regions rich in uranium ores has also been established. Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan have begun to reprocess or bury some of their toxic waste. However, there is a long way to go before the years of messy exploitation are cleared up. Central Asia is fortunate in that vast areas of beautiful mountains and austere deserts are unspoiled. But the consequences for the centers of human population are less encouraging. The cause of this damage was the hubris of Soviet planners, who were convinced of the need to 'modernize' and industrialize, partly in order to leap ahead of the West but also to support their social engineering of a loyal proletariat to replace a counter-revolutionary peasantry. In the end, they got neither an economy to match the West nor a loyal population. They ended up with a land that is sick. The inter-governmental panel on climate change's third assessment report was published in 2001 and outlined how, with an increased global surface temperature of 0.6 degrees centigrade since 1900, the world's climate is undoubtedly warming. Changes to inland use and increased emissions have, it is thought, made the earth warmer now than it has been for 5,000 years, and the rate of warming is faster than at any time in the last 10,000 years. The recession of glaciers in Central Asia's mountains, along with increased evaporation, are already altering the water supply of the region. Freshwater lakes are increasingly salinated. Lake Balkash in Kazakhstan covers 18,000 square kilometers and is one of the largest inland waters of Central Asia, but with a fall in the inflow from the River Ili, its main tributary, salination has now reached 4gjlitre, thus rendering it virtually unusable for either drinking or irrigation.38 Scientists now predict that droughts, such as the ones that have affected Tajikistan and Afghanistan in recent years, will become more frequent in the region. Farming economies are therefore at serious risk. There is also some concern that the steady, linear rate of change may shift abruptly and bring about catastrophic climatic events. Yet, this would mean not just the advent of short-term, if disastrous, incidents such as flash flooding, damaging storms, or hazardous temperature extremes. It might also mean rapid desertification, mass migrations of a more permanent nature, and conflicts over water. The Chinese economy, for example, currently pays an additional $30 billion per annum to deal with water shortages. To secure future supplies, China plans to divert more water from the Ili into Xinjiang's industry and domestic consumption. Climatologists think that, by 2020, precipitation in north-west China will have fallen by 20 per cent, a fact that will add to the pressure on the remaining supplies.39 However, this will bring China into direct confrontation with Kazakhstan, which depends on the IIi for its own needs. If large-scale movements of climatic refugees are added to this scenario, existing ethnic and clan tensions could be pushed to breaking point. The existence of diminishing hydrocarbon resources in the same region will further complicate the problem.
The independence of the Central Asian republics led to considerable speculation about their oil and gas reserves in the early 1990S. Huge investments were made, and there were some exaggerated claims about the region's potential. However, disputes over the Caspian's status and the national boundaries of the littoral states; conflicts in neighboring Afghanistan and Iraq; the technical, financial and diplomatic difficulties of the pipelines; terrorism, ethnic and civil violence, and political corruption; and uncertainty about the Iranian-American confrontation over nuclear weapons have all delayed or deterred the development of the hydrocarbon resources. Nevertheless, despite these problems, the reserves and capacity may turn out to be much smaller than originally predicted. The EIA estimates that, by 2025, Caspian production will reach 6,000,000 bpd. This seems buoyant until one considers that Persian Gulf production in the same year is expected to be 45.2 million bpd. The effect of Caspian production on world prices will therefore be far smaller than expected in the 1990s. That said, hydrocarbons from Central Asia will be regarded as an important addition to world supplies at a time of increasing demand. In terms of energy security, they may well assist the world in diversifying its sources, and they will certainly have a key role to play in developing the republics themselves. Nevertheless, they will also be the source of intense international rivalry; they may fuel domestic corruption and heighten inequalities of wealth and opportunity too. In addition, the expansion of the hydrocarbons industries threatens to repeat the environmental mistakes of the past. Sadly, the attraction of billions of dollars after years of Soviet stagnation will prove too tempting. In the long term, oil and gas are thus likely to be both a blessing and a curse to the region .
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1 Yaacov Ro'i, Islam and the Soviet Union (New York, 2000).
2 Sergei Poliakov and Manha Brill Olcott, Everyday Islam: Religion and Tradition in Rural Central Asia, rrans. A. Olcott (New York, 1992).
3 S. Akiner, Islam in Post-Soviet Central Asia: Contested Territory (Hamburg, 2002); Mehrdad Haghayeghi, 'Islamic Revival in the Cenrral Asian Republics', Central Asian Survey, XIII/2 (1994), pp. 249-66.
4 Mehrdad Hagheyeghi, Islam and Politics in Central Asia (London, 1996).
5 R. H. Dekmejian, Islam in Revolution: Fundamentalism in the Arab World (New York, 1995
6 Ahmed Rashid, Jihad: The Rise of Militant Islam in Central Asia (New Haven, CT, 2002), p. 118.
7 Abdul Qadeem Zaloum, How the Khilafah was Destroyed (Lahore, 1998).
8 Chris Marsh, 'Hizb ut-Tahrir and Islamic Militancy: How Much a Threat to Cenrral Asian Regional Stability?', 1 September 2004, Kings College London, p. 5.
9 An-Nabhani, 'Economic System', 1997; F. Fukuyama, 'Has History Started Again?', Policy, XVIII/2 (Winter 2002), p. 6; 1. Rotar, 'Central Asia: Hizb ut-TahrirWants Worldwide Sharia Law', Forum, XVIII, 2003.
10 Marsh, 'Hizb ut-Tahrir and Islamic Militancy', p. 31.
11 Rashid, Jihad, p. 123.
12 http://hizb-ut-tahrir.org;www.khilafah.org;www.1924.org;http:!/wwwmindspring.eu.com are examples of Western-based sites.
13 See us State Department, Uzbekistan: Human Rights Practices 2000 (Washington, DC, 2001); Independent Human Rights Organisation of Uzbekistan, About Political Prisoners in Uzbekistan (July 2001).
14 Olivier Roy, 'Changing Patterns among Radical Islamic Movements', Brown Journal of World Affairs, 6,1 (Winter-Spring 1999), pp.109ff.
15 Marsh, 'Hizb ut-Tahrir and Islamic Militancy', p. 22.
16 Sura 3, v.I04; sura 3, V.llO-14.
17 Rashid, Jihad, p. 124.
18 Independent Human Rights Organisation of Uzbekistan.
19 International Crisis Group, Central Asia: Islam and the State (Osh and Brussels, 2003).
20 T. Makarenko, 'Hizb ut-Tahrir on the Rise in Central Asia', Jane's Intelligence Review, 12 November 2002, pp. 30-33.
21 A. Cohen, 'Hizb ut-Tahrir: An Emerging Threat to us Interests in Central Asia', (2003).
22 Cited in Rashid, Jihad, p. 134.
23 J. Burke, Al Q.aeda: Casting a Shadow of Terror (London, 2003), p. 234.
24 Rashid, Jihad, P·134.
27 Lutz Klevemann, The New Great Game: Blood and Oil in Central Asia (London, 2003) p·3·
28 Barry Barton, C. Redgwell, A. Ronne and D. N. Zillman, Energy Security: Managing Risk in a Dynamic Legal and Regulatory Environment (Oxford, 2004) p. 5.
29 Rosemarie Forsythe, The Politics of Oil in the Caucasus and Central Asia (Oxford, 1996), PP.17-21; Stephen S. Blank, US Military Engagement with Transcaucasus and Central Asia (Carlisle, PA, 2000); Michael T. Klare, Resource Wars: The New Landscape of Global Conflict (New York, 2002), p. 8. America's objectives regarding pipelines were outlined by Bill Richardson, Energy Secretary, in 1998, and are cited by Stephen Kinzer, in 'On Piping out Caspian Oil, us Insists the Cheaper, Shorter Way Isn't Better', New York Times, 8 November 1998.
30 Gawdat Bahgat, 'Central Asia and Energy Security', Asian Affairs, March 2006,P·3.
31 Klevemann, New Great Game, p. 12. Ahmed Rashid, Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia (New Haven, CT, 2000) p. 6; M. EhsanAhrari, Jihadi Groups, Nuclear Pakistan and the New Great Game (Washington, DC, 2001), p. 2; M. E. Ahrari and James Beal, The New Great Game in Muslim Central Asia, McNair Paper 47 (Washington, DC, 1996); Dianne 1. Smith, Central Asia: A New Great Game? (Carlisle, PA, 1996);Ariel Cohen, 'The New "Great Game": Oil Politics in the Caucasus and Central Asia', Heritage Foundation, 25 January 1996.
32 The joint project, Tsentrkaspneftegaz, was reported in 'LUKOIl Gazprom May Spend $12 Billion to Tap Caspian Field', Moscow Times, 8 July 2003.
33 Paul MacDonald, 'Oil Production Outlook Means Iran May Need Nuclear Power', Petroleum Review (April 2006), p. 20.
34 'Kazakhstan's Vision Sets It up as an Investment Gateway to Central Asia', http://www.dinarstandard.comjcurrentjKazakVision032906.htm.
35 Michael T. Klare, Resource Wars: The New Landscape of Global Conflict (New York, 2002), pp. 102-4.
36 Ivan Gribanov, 'No Bosphorous Please: Four Projects to By-pass the Turkish Straits Spring to Life Simultaneously', RusEnergy.com, p. 3.
37 Ministry of Ecology and Bioresources, Environmental Situation of the Republic of Kazakhstan (Almaty, 1997); v. A. Vronsky, Pollution in Central Asia (Rostov on Don, 1996).
38 Stephan Harrison, 'Climate Change, Future Conflict and the Role of Climate Science', RUST Journal (December 2005).
39 Harrison, 'Climate Change'.
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