In the United States, our focus is on Iran’s activities to its west and east. Tehran supports Bashar Assad in Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, menaces oil exports in the Gulf and threatens Israel with annihilation. On its other flank, it seeks influence in Afghanistan as U.S. and NATO forces prepare to withdraw. However, we tend to ignore Iran’s actions to its north, even as this — the greater Caspian region — emerges as a particularly active theater for Iran’s ambitions of regional power.
We do so to our detriment. With Washington’s focus elsewhere during the past few months, Iran has steadily pushed the envelope with its northern neighbors, in the disputed Caspian Sea and along its land borders with Armenia and Azerbaijan.… Seguir leyendo »
On Sept. 23, a top Chinese security official and Politburo member, Zhou Yongkang, made a surprise four-hour visit to Kabul during which time he reportedly met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. This was the first high-level visit by a Chinese official to Afghanistan in half a century — a clear signal of a policy shift on Beijing’s part and probably the harbinger of further engagement to come.
Until now, China’s approach to its Eurasian neighbors, including Afghanistan, has been “soft,” primarily based on investment, infrastructure projects, promoting Chinese language and the multilateral body of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Beijing has stayed away from difficult political issues — so much so that U.S.… Seguir leyendo »
Traffic around Tiananmen Square was even worse than usual last week as President Vladimir Putin rolled through town to cement the supposedly flowering Chinese-Russian relationship. A series of high-level deals were signed between Chinese and Russian state-owned enterprises and China announced a substantial infusion into the new Russian Direct Investment Fund.
While cordial, an unspoken undertone to the meetings was Russian concern about growing Chinese influence in the former Soviet Union and particularly Central Asia.
Just before his visit to Beijing, Putin had announced a desire to form a new Eurasian Union that would tie a number of former Soviet states back into the Russian orbit.… Seguir leyendo »
On Feb. 26, I woke up to the sound of a suicide car bomb explosion two blocks away. I ate my full English breakfast amid cacophonous gunfire from the neighborhood park. The Taliban took responsibility for my wake-up call. It is these sorts of events that prompt analysts here to argue that despite impressive progress against insurgents in Marjah, Afghanistan is «going to hell in a handbasket.»
But, as I ventured out on to the streets later that day, I couldn’t help noticing the extraordinary resilience of ordinary Kabulis. The bazaar was bustling, men and women flocked to mosque and traffic was as thick as ever.… Seguir leyendo »
What little-known international issue is key to our relationship with Afghanistan, Iraq, China, Russia, Turkey, the countries of Central Asia and our European allies? Eurasia’s energy geopolitics cut across more U.S. foreign and energy policy priorities than any other topic of discussion in Washington. The problem is that energy in Eurasia is not receiving the kind of high-level attention it deserves from this administration. While Moscow, Beijing and Tehran take the nexus of energy and foreign policy very seriously, Washington is playing catch-up across the Eurasian continent.
Since World War II, European countries and even the substantial bloc of the European Union have not had much of a policy toward China.… Seguir leyendo »