The attacks of 9/11 and the ensuing war in Afghanistan did not start the new "Great Game" in Central Asia. Local governments had already grasped the Islamist threat and Russia's neo-imperial longings, and the region's great energy stakes had already determined American resistance to Moscow's policy. But those events undoubtedly imparted a pronounced military aspect to the great power rivalry there.
The New Great Game
Central Asia's energy reserves make it the prize of a new "Great Game," with rival powers maneuvering for access to pipeline routes and military bases. The region's complicated human rights issues cloud the picture for policymakers. WPR examines Central Asia.
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Articles in this feature
To discuss human rights in Central Asia without resorting to stereotype is a difficult prospect. The area's strategic value is unquestioned and has led some to turn the region's human rights record into a vehicle for promoting their own interests -- distorting reality in the process. What's more, the human rights picture varies significantly from country to country across Central Asia.
In the new "Great Game" between Russia and the West over the future of Central Asian energy, the prize is certainly a tempting one. The Caspian and its attendant coastline are estimated to contain as much as 250 billion barrels of recoverable oil and up to 328 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas. Since 1991, Washington has sought access to the region's energy while bypassing both Russia and Iran.