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"Wet" reasons to stay

Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - 16:22

After the announcement of the timetable for the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, in favor of the upcoming presidential elections, the United States were concerned about finding the causes and opportunities to maintain its presence in Central Asia and Afghanistan by any means. Perhaps this explains the increased tension that has been seen in Afghanistan recently. The burning of the Koran, the shooting of civilians and other acts of military personnel of Anti-terrorist coalition (mostly Americans), as well as the actions of employees of private security firms contribute to the escalation of violence against the local population, it will likely allow the United States to declare about the difficulties with the transfer of authority to the Afghan government and extend the stay of troops for an indefinite period of time.
In addition to the continuing instability in Afghanistan, the United States came up with another opportunity to extend the term of the stay of their troops in the country, and accordingly, to extend the geopolitical control over the strategically important region. The USA are interested in control of one of the most important strategic resources of the planet - water, for which they had initiated the project "Partnership of the USA on water resources" as a new form of public-private partnerships to improve the management of water resources around the world.
The basis for the adoption of the initiative was a report prepared by the U.S. secret services. This document is based on the data of "National intelligence estimate" and is a forecast up to 2040 about water resources in the basins of the seven major across-the-border rivers all over the world, where there is the greatest likelihood of conflicts.
One of such contentious rivers is Amu Darya, the longest and water-bearing river in Central Asia, which originates in Afghanistan. The Amu Darya basin covers four states in the region - Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan, but the main watershed is conducted in Tajikistan. In addition to the Amu Darya there is one more major river in the region - the Syr Darya, the beginning of which is on the territory of Kyrgyzstan. As the Amu Darya, Syr Darya flows through several countries - Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan.
As the prognosis, the report describes the events that have already become a reality for Central Asia: "The countries that are in the upper reaches of the rivers will hinder or even stop the flow of water downstream, the water scarcity and its poor quality will increase the probability of regional instability and tension". An example is the relationship between the two neighbors in the region - Tajikistan and Uzbekistan that are now in a state of "cold war".
At present time the main problems of water resources in Central Asia are the lack of effective inter-state agreements on water use, the growing deterioration of water quality and disturbance to the rivers’ flow, ineffective management of water resources. The result of inefficient water use in Central Asia is the deterioration of environment conditions and food security in the region, which is especially important today because last year the largest food producers in the world (the USA, Russia, Brazil, and Kazakhstan) suffered considerable losses because of the drought.
In this context, particular attention should be paid to the words of the President of Uzbekistan I. Karimov said during his visit on September 6-7, 2012 to Kazakhstan. During the meeting with President of Kazakhstan N. Nazarbayev held on the 7th September in Astana Karimov, speaking about the problems of water resources, said that in the future they may lead to global conflicts not only in Central Asia but also in the entire Asian continent. Karimov said, "I'm not going to name specific states but all can be worsened to such an extent that it will cause not only serious opposition, but also the war". Special displeasure of Karimov is caused by the agreement between Russia and Tajikistan on the construction of the Rogun hydroelectric power station, as well as the agreement between Russia and Kyrgyzstan on the building a cascade of Upper-Narynsk HPS and HPS "Kambarata-1". Because after the implementation of these agreements, the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan located in the upper reaches of the rivers will receive additional opportunities to use water as a tool of foreign policy action (as it is done by Uzbekistan which in the same way uses a natural gas and a gas transportation system that Uzbekistan inherited from the Soviet Union).
Besides the already existing tensions related to water use of the Syr Darya and Amu Darya, the other waterways in the region may be of interest for the USA, namely the major rivers of Kazakhstan - Ili and Irtysh. Both rivers originate in the territory of China: Irtysh (named Black Irtysh until Zaysansky reservoir in Kazakhstan) starts on the border with Mongolia, on the slopes of the Mongolian Altai, Ili starts in the mountains of Tien Shan. Next, the rivers flow through the territory of Kazakhstan, where the Ili River flows into Lake Balkhash and the Irtysh River crosses the border with the Russian Federation and flows into the River Ob. The Ili-Balkhash basin is home to about three million people, and the Irtysh basin is home to about four million people, besides only the Irtysh supplies water to Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, through the Irtysh-Karaganda. At the same time, since 2000 the central government of China pays special attention to the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region - one of the poorest regions in the country, and the most important element in the development of a growing population and production capacity of Xinjiang is to provide the region with water, which is taken from the Ili and Black Irtysh.
At the event devoted to the World Water Day held in March 22, 2012 at the headquarters of the World Bank in Washington, the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton unveiled a new initiative of the U.S. government, "The U.S. Partnership for Water Resources". In her speech, she said: "Our own experience in water resources in our country and our technological experience are highly valued throughout the world. As the states will experience more difficulties in the field of water resources or will be faced with crises in this area, they are likely to seek assistance from the United States". Hillary Clinton also said that the U.S. government commissioned special services to study the importance of safety of water resources in the world over the next 30 years for the U.S. national security.
The basis for this initiative was a previously submitted report "Global Water Security: the assessment of the intelligence community" prepared by the U.S. special services. According to the authors of this report, "in the next 10 years, many countries that are important to the United States will almost certainly face problems of water resources, such as water shortages, poor quality of ware or floods, which will increase the danger of instability and collapse in the work of the state, and will also lead to regional tensions", and another fragment says that "the countries will focus on the fight against domestic social unrest caused by the water issues that will distract them from working together with the United States on important policy objectives".
The document states that "the outbreak of inter-state conflict over water resources is unlikely in the next 10 years, as according to history the tensions over water resources often led to the signing of agreements on the sharing of water resources than to the conflicts with the use of violence. At the same time, we believe that as at the end of the next 10 years water shortages will become even more pronounced, the water resources in transboundary rivers’ basins will be increasingly used as a tool to gain an advantage. At the end of the next 10 years the probability of using water as a weapon or for the realization of terrorist targets will also increase. We firmly believe in our forecast, as there are excellent reports on water shortages in the future that are based on all the categories of sources, as well as there are well-known examples of how problems around water resources lead to regional tensions".
The report also provides additional data in sections such as "the use of water resources as a key factor", "the use of water as a weapon" and "terrorism with the use of water resources". In particular, it is predicted that "over the next 10 years, a number of states will take advantage of leverage over their neighbors to protect their own interests in the field of water resources. This impact will be applied in international forums and will also include the pressure on investors, non-governmental organizations and donor countries in order to support and stop infrastructure projects in the water sector. In addition, individual states may use their abilities to build and maintain large-scale projects in the field of water resources for regional influence or preservation of their interests in the field of water resources".
The authors remind us that "the physical infrastructure, including dams, has been used as targets that were convenient and loudly declared by extremists, terrorists and rogue states that made threats causing significant damage", and warn us: "In the next 10 years, such a threat would be even more likely . Even if the attack is not completely successful, the fear of massive floods or loss of water will alarm the population and will force the states to go to expensive measures to protect water resources infrastructure. Similarly, a target for terrorists with a high degree of probability will be facilities for water desalination, critically important cannels or pipes".
Especially it is necessary to pay attention to the words of Hillary Clinton that the United States is very concerned about the situation in Central Asia as there is am imbalance in the distribution of water resources in the region. Consequently, there may be water crises and the U.S. government has promised its possible assistance in the settlement of these crises, which implies the regional leadership of the USA in this area. Clinton promised U.S. assistance in resolving water issues through diplomatic ways and other possible means, and suggests that an increase in the number of crises in the field of water resources will make concerned states increasingly seek assistance from the USA.
Thus, on the basis of this initiative, which was expressed by Hillary Clinton, it is possible to say with confidence that regardless of the situation in Afghanistan, the United States found an excuse to maintain its presence in Central Asia.

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