Uzbeks Cut-Off Tajik Gas, May Not Allow Turkmen Gas To Transit

Tajikistan seeks Turkmen gas as shortage looms

* Uzbekistan to stop gas supplies to neighbour from April

* Turkmen-Tajik deal subject to Uzbek transit accord

* Abrupt drop in supply to harm aluminium, cement plants

By Roman Kozhevnikov

DUSHANBE, March 28 (Reuters) – Tajikistan aims to secure natural gas supplies from Turkmenistan to avert a worsening fuel shortage as its traditional supplier prepares to stop pumping from next week, a high-ranking Tajik government representative told Reuters on Wednesday.

Uzbekistan, the sole supplier of natural gas to its Central Asian neighbour, had informed the Tajik government it would halt supplies from April 1 in order to meet growing demand from its main partner, China, the government representative said.

Speaking on condition of anonymity to avoid jeopardising current talks, he cited a letter from state company Uztransgaz to its equivalent gas transportation company in Tajikistan.

Mountainous Tajikistan, the poorest of 15 former Soviet republics, experiences frequent power blackouts. Only southern regions of the country and upmarket homes in the centre of the capital Dushanbe receive regular supplies of gas.

The biggest losers from any abrupt cut in gas supplies would be the state-run aluminium smelter, which contributes more than half of the country’s entire export revenues, and a state-owned cement factory.

Relations between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan have long been strained over the former’s plans to build a huge hydroelectric power station that Uzbekistan says would disrupt water supplies downstream and harm its agricultural production.

"The stoppage of Uzbek gas supplies is a politically motivated step," said Dushanbe-based political analyst Ramzan Sharipov.

"If Dushanbe cannot agree with Tashkent on supplies of Uzbek gas or transit of Turkmen gas, among the first to suffer will be Tajik Cement, whose products are used to construct the Rogun hydroelectric plant; the cornerstone in Tajik-Uzbek relations."

With an acute shortage looming, the Tajik government representative said Turkmenistan was prepared to export the necessary volumes of gas at an "acceptable" price.

"But we don’t have a common border with Turkmenistan, so we need once again to ask Uzbekistan. Now we are asking only to use the gas pipeline that crosses its territory."

TRANSIT QUESTION

Uzbekistan’s current gas contract with Tajikistan, signed in January after a two-day interruption to supplies, expires at the end of the first quarter.

The contracted volume for the three months to March 31 was 45 million cubic metres, state company Uzbekneftegaz said in a statement posted on its website, http://www.ung.uz, on March 25.

The Tajik representative said his government was willing to continue taking Uzbek gas when available and that it had already proposed a new supply contract to cover the second quarter.

"We buy 15 to 20 million cubic metres of gas every month, which is no more than 10 percent of daily gas production volumes in Uzbekistan," he said. "Our people have long been deprived the pleasure of contemplating warm gas heaters in their homes."

An Uzbek Foreign Ministry spokesman said by telephone from Tashkent that gas supply talks had "no relation to politics."

Turkmenistan holds 4.3 percent of global natural gas reserves, BP data shows, ranking it joint fourth with Saudi Arabia in terms of reserves, behind only Russia, Iran and Qatar.

A source in the Turkmen government said he could not comment on Tajik supplies before negotiations were concluded. But he said: "Turkmenistan is prepared to supply the required volumes of its gas to any customer at the border."

He added: "Transit is the customer’s responsibility."

Tajikistan itself produces no more than 1.5 million cubic metres of gas every month. Toronto-listed Tethys Petroleum and Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom are drilling in the country. (Additional reporting by Marat Gurt in Ashgabat; writing by Robin Paxton; editing by James Jukwey)

Hillary’s Busybodies Looking for New Excuses To Meddle In Asia

[Dig this bullshit–

"the country will focus on the fight against domestic social unrest caused by the water issues that distract them from their collaboration with the United States on important policy objectives." 

Is the intention to keep people in the future from rioting whenever they begin to die of thirst?  Hillary wants to stick her nose into everything.]

Water Truce

 
Arkady Dubnov, a columnist for "Moscow News", especially for the "New" – Kazakhstan "

Hillary Clinton, America has found work in Central Asia

The Americans found a new job in Central Asia after they leave Afghanistan. Yes, however, will be engaged in it, even if there will …

So, note that the mouth of America Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced a new initiative – "Partnership for the U.S. Water Resources." So it will be created in the United States called public-private partnerships to improve water management worldwide. Americans can not refuse in the ambitious claims, they are not shy to admit his ideas of globality. But this time it is not about planting democracy and not about the battles for alternative delivery routes of Central Asian hydrocarbons. All serious and I would say, no alternative.

The basis for the proclamation of the initiative was the report prepared by the U.S. intelligence community – the union of 17 federal agencies including the CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), National Security Agency (NSA), FBI, etc. The report is based on data classified "national intelligence estimate" relative forecast the situation in the next 30 years, until 2040, around the world water resources in the basin 7 major transboundary rivers around the world, where there is a greater likelihood of conflict.

"Honorary" among them is given the Amu Darya, longest river in Central Asia, a swimming pool which covers five states in the region – Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan. In an open report to specific countries are not named, marked only the general problem of the next 10 years for the States "are important for the United States": water scarcity, poor quality, flooding, which will increase the risk of instability and collapse in the States, but also lead to regional tension.

Interestingly, as formulated, "the intelligence community," the U.S. statement of the question, "the country will focus on the fight against domestic social unrest caused by the water issues that distract them from their collaboration with the United States on important policy objectives." This gives way to frank altruism characteristic of American pragmatism. This immediacy, even impressed, because otherwise it is difficult to believe in their sincere concern for the troubled regions.

"At the end of the next 10 years will also increase the likelihood of water resources as a weapon or implement terrorist purposes," – says the report. In this case, the authors proceed from the historical experience, partly encouraging, they say, the flash of interstate conflicts over water resources in the next 10 years are unlikely, "because historically, tensions over water resources often led to the signing of agreements on the sharing of water resources, than to conflict with violence. "

However, if you remember the level of hostility that separates the two neighbors in the region – Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, the minefields on the border between them, where for the past decade and a half blown up dozens of people and hundreds of head of livestock, transport blockade of one of the country, arranged by another propaganda war waged on both sides, this optimism seems a little affectation.

The authors describe the report as a prediction of what is already a reality, at least in Central Asia: "We anticipate that over the next 10 years, the countries that are in the upper reaches of the rivers will hinder or even stop the flow of water down the flow. " And said that the targets of terrorists and rogue states can be hydroelectric dams (in Russia it has become a reality. – AD), the installation of desalination, water channels or pipes.

That offer Americans? Of course, the U.S. leadership in this area. "Our own experience in water resources within our country and our technological expertise are highly regarded around the world – Hillary Clinton, representing the" water "initiative. – As the state will experience more difficulties in the field of water resources or will to deal with crises in this area, they are increasingly likely to seek assistance from the United States. "

Washington Secretary of State promised to assist these states, as diplomatically as well as other possible means. And for some reason it seems that, say, in Dushanbe or Tashkent, where there is a whiff of "fried" in water, but rather turn to faraway America, rather than to close Russia’s mediation efforts. First, it may be advantageous. And secondly, it may be that genetically obliged the Soviet past concerns about the evil thoughts, "Uncle Sam" for the past 20 years, were scattered to a much greater degree than encountered for the same years the fear of being in the new post-Soviet dependence on Moscow …

But even if we imagine that it’s not that sad from the Russian point of view, and the mood in the region is not as Russophobe, we are ready if the Russian commanders to peacemaking in the region? Their services recently proposed CSTO Secretary General Nikolai Bordyuzha, but it seems that other than personal desires, the distinguished general have nothing to boast more – not the political will of the Russian government, nor the necessary means or experienced mediators, none of that in Moscow today is not found.

As noted recently in an interview with the newspaper "Vedomosti" well-known expert on the sociology of international relations Marcos Troyho of Columbia University, "for Russia and to a greater extent for the Soviet Union in an effort to increase its political and military influence tend to do the calculation on brute force rather than to increase well-being, as we have entered China in ’33. " Add that Russia today can not afford to keep on petrodollars over 150,000 technical advisors in 76 countries around the world, as he wrote about another American analyst Michael Dobbs, in his book "The End of the Soviet empire."

In a word, "water truce" in Central Asia, it seems, will be engaged in by Americans. If the legs will carry safely out of Afghanistan …

US Assigns Troops To Protect Other Troops In Their Sleep

New security for U.S. troops in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. military commanders in Afghanistan have assigned "guardian angels" — troops that watch over their comrades even as they sleep — and have ordered a series of other increased security measures to protect troops against possible attacks by rogue Afghans.

The added protections are part of a directive issued in recent weeks by Marine Gen. John Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, to guard against insider threats, according to a senior military official. And they come in the wake of a spike in attacks on U.S. and coalition forces by Afghans, including the point-blank shooting deaths of two U.S. advisers in Afghanistan’s Ministry of Interior.

Some of the changes have been subtle, others not so much.

In several Afghan ministries, Americans are now allowed to carry weapons. And they have been instructed to rearrange their office desks there to face the door, so they can see who is coming in, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the internal directive.

While Allen did not detail the new measures in a briefing earlier this week, he acknowledged that changes had been made.

"We have taken steps necessary on our side to protect ourselves with respect to, in fact, sleeping arrangements, internal defenses associated with those small bases in which we operate," Allen said, adding that now someone is "always overwatching our forces."

The security measures came after the U.S. military mistakenly burned Qurans and other religious materials in February, triggering anti-American demonstrations and riots. And on Feb. 25, two U.S. military advisers were gunned down at their desks in one of the most heavily guarded ministry building in Kabul.

As a result of the shootings, more than 300 advisers were pulled out of the Afghan ministries. So far, several dozen have returned, but many will not go back until additional security measures are put in place by the Afghans. That would include better vetting procedures, background checks and physical security measures at the ministries. The military official also said some advisers may not return, since commanders have determined that some may no longer be needed in the jobs.

The military official said Allen issued the directive "to get every single troop in the war zone to read it and think" — and to emphasize that troops should be aware of their surroundings as they go about their jobs.

U.S. commanders and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta say the killings do not represent a trend, and they say that less than half of the killings have been by Afghans associated with the Taliban.

Instead, Allen said, these types of attacks come with fighting an insurgency and happened in Iraq and Vietnam. The enemy, he said, will do what it can to disrupt efforts to train and grow a nation’s indigenous security force.

Still, the recent spike in Afghans gunning down troops they are serving alongside reflects increased tensions between the two countries just as the coalition escalates efforts to train Afghans to take over their own security so that most NATO forces can leave by the end of 2014.

Officials insist the killings have not hampered the U.S. mission in Afghanistan. But they come at a time when new, small advisory teams are heading into Afghanistan to beef up the training program, requiring them to work closely with Afghan military units.

So far this year, 16 NATO service members have been shot and killed by Afghan soldiers and policemen or militants disguised in their uniforms, according to an Associated Press tally. That equals 18 percent of the 84 foreign troops killed this year in Afghanistan. Of the approximately 80 NATO service members killed since 2007 by Afghan security forces, more than 75 percent were in the past two years.

In two separate incidents on Monday, Afghan security forces shot and killed one American and two British troops.

In one incident, two British service members were killed by an Afghan soldier in front of the main gate of a joint civilian-military base in southern Afghanistan, the coalition said. And in the second incident, a U.S. service member was shot and killed at a checkpoint in Paktika province in eastern Afghanistan by a man who was believed to be a member of a village-level fighting force the U.S. is fostering in hopes of countering the Taliban insurgency.

According to the military official, the so-called guardian angels provide an extra layer of security, watching over the troops as they sleep, when they are exercising, and going about their day.

Allen noted that the Afghans have also taken some similar steps to provide guards for their own forces.

The Afghans have also inserted their own intelligence officers into their units to help try and ferret out possible insurgents or rogue soldiers. And, since the ministry shooting, the Afghans have taken a number of steps to increase building security in the ministries and to improve the vetting of their workers.

"They are helping the troops to understand how to recognize radicalization or the emergence of extremism in some of those, in individuals who may in fact be suspect," said Allen. He noted that there have also been some arrests by Afghan forces when they identified possible attackers within their ranks.

Russia stares down the West on Syria

Russia stares down the West on Syria

VLADIMIR RADYUHIN

FOLLOW THE LEADER: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has cautioned against attempts to circumvent the authority of the United Nations in finding a solution to the Syrian crisis. The picture is of a European security conference in Moscow on March 23, 2012.

AFP  FOLLOW THE LEADER: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has cautioned against attempts to circumvent the authority of the United Nations in finding a solution to the Syrian crisis. The picture is of a European security conference in Moscow on March 23, 2012.

The West has accepted that Moscow has a key role to play in settling the Syrian crisis.

If one needed a textbook example of how propaganda can help turn defeat into victory then one should look at Western media coverage of recent diplomatic battles on Syria.

Everybody agrees that the so-called “presidential statement” on Syria the U.N. Security Council adopted on March 21 was a turning point in efforts to resolve the Syrian crisis. It marked the first time the Security Council (SC) had reached an agreement on Syria and endorsed a peace plan proposed by U.N. and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan. The surprise consensus in the Council, which was earlier riven by divisions, raised the question of who had made concessions — Western powers or Russia and China, who had vetoed two West-backed SC resolutions.

To believe Western news outlets it is Russia and China that blinked first.

Christian Science Monitor saw Russia’s support for the SC statement as a “distinct shift” in Moscow’s stance. Radio Free Europe said Moscow had “finally relented,” while the Economist categorically declared: “Russia shifted firmly to the side of Al Assad’s detractors.”

The text of the SC statement, however, shows that it is the West that embraced the Russian stand.

First, the statement did not mention the West’s earlier demand for Mr. Assad to step down. (The February SC draft did not openly call on Mr. Assad to leave but voiced support for the Arab League’s plan, which explicitly demanded his resignation as a precondition for political settlement in Syria.)

Second, the Western powers for the first time endorsed the Russian view that the opposition in Syria should talk to the government. The SC statement said that the Syrian crisis should be resolved through “a comprehensive political dialogue between the Syrian government and the whole spectrum of the Syrian opposition.”

In line with Russian proposals

Third, the SC statement addressed the demand to stop the fighting, not only to the government forces, as the West had insisted earlier, but also to the opposition, as Russia had demanded all along.

Finally, the SC statement did not contain any threats of sanctions or foreign military intervention in Syria that were implied in previous Western drafts.

Moscow had good reason to heartily welcome the SC statement.

Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev said the document was “in line with the proposals Russia has been advocating from the very beginning.”

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov explained what made consensus possible.

“I’m very glad that our [Security Council] colleagues have finally… abandoned ultimatums, threats and attempts to resolve [the Syrian crisis] by making demands to the government only.”

The Arab League has also backed away from “ultimatums”: its head Nabil al-Arabi said that the group is “unlikely” to call for Al Assad to step down at its current summit in Iraq.

Ground realities in Syria have vindicated Russia’s assumptions and proved the West wrong.

Three realities

First, the Syrian regime has turned out to be much stronger than many expected, thanks in part to Russia’s and Iran’s military aid. Large sections of the Syrian population see Al Assad as their best guarantee against inter-confessional violence that may erupt if the ruling regime falls.

Second, the Syrian opposition has failed to unite and speak in one voice. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton admitted that she does not see in Syria “the elements of an opposition that is actually viable.”

Third, al-Qaeda-inspired Islamist groups have established a foothold in Syria raising the spectre of another Iraq.

The strategy of having armed opposition topple the Syrian regime with outside help failed and the West was forced to listen to Russia’s arguments and accept that Russia has a key role to play in settling the Syrian crisis. The initiative has passed to Moscow.

“I share the view that this is a big victory for Russian diplomacy,” said Vitaly Naumkin, head of the Russian Institute of Oriental Studies. “Even the U.S. is edging closer to the Russian stand.”

Russia has said all along that it is not defending the Syrian leaders, but upholding the principle of international law and the interests of regional stability. As far back as last August, Mr. Medvedev had urged Al Assad to “carry out urgent reforms, come to terms with the opposition, restore peace and create a modern state,” if he had wanted to stay in power.

“If he cannot do this, a sad fate awaits him,” the Russian leader had warned.

Last week Mr. Lavrov stated that the Syrian leadership had not only “responded incorrectly to the very first manifestations of the peaceful protests,” but was still “making a lot of mistakes” that are aggravating the crisis.

Mr. Lavrov made it clear that Moscow is not against Al Assad’s eventual departure, but this has to be the decision of Syrians themselves.

“I’m convinced that if a comprehensive dialogue is launched involving all members of the opposition and the government, then it should be possible to solve all questions within this framework, including the question of who would lead Syria during the transition period, the way it was done in Yemen.”

In Russia’s view this scenario of power transition for Syria is not equivalent to foreign-engineered forceful “regime change” advocated by the West.

The unanimous support in the U.N. Security Council for Mr. Annan’s plan focused on facilitating an intra-Syrian dialogue means that Russia’s approach has won the day.

Afghanistan Opts-Out of TAPI Pipeline Scam, Pakistan Thinks That Means More Gas for Them

‘Afghanistan decides to quit TAPI project’

ISLAMABAD: Afghanistan has decided to opt out of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline project and if Afghanistan does, then its share of 500 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) gas will be distributed between Pakistan and India.

This was stated by Petroleum Secretary Ejaz Chaudhary while talking to a group of energy reporters on Wednesday.

He said that final round of TAPI project between energy managers of Tetra partners is expected to be held on April 19 in Kabul, and if Afghanistan is not ready to be a part of TAPI project, then the share of Afghanistan would be distributed between Pakistan and India.

Zaid Hamid Petitions Supreme Court To Restrict Freedom of Speech for the “Glory of Islam” and “Integrity” of Military

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF PAKISTAN, ISLAMABAD

Syed Zaid Zaman Hamid, Founding President of an InternationallyRecognized Threat Analysis Consultancy and Defence Think Tank,

“Brass Tackss”,…..Petitioner

 

Whether it is not a fact that legislature can lawfully impose restrictions upon the freedom of speech and expression on the following grounds, as described in the Article 19 i.e. in the interest of :-

Glory of Islam,
Integrity, security or defence of Pakistan or any part thereof,
Friendly relations with foreign states
Public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, and finally
Commission or incitement to an offence.