The Central Asia Sweepstakes

Now that the world is paying attention to Asia, what is Asia paying attention to? Central Asia. Specifically, Central Asian energy, according to this post over at China and India are both making big pushes not only to secure oil and gas supplies, but also to establish military bases and defense agreements, and the scramble for a toehold in the region has broader strategic implications:

“The global order is re-dividing into roughly two de facto blocs — one has the US at its core and the other has Russia-China at its core. Energy is the major dividing line between the two blocs,” W. Joseph Stroupe, a strategic analyst, wrote recently. By putting the nuclear deal on the fast track, New Delhi too seems to be all set to join the US bloc and become an active participant in the energy war in Central Asia.

Central Asia has been flying under the media radar, with most of the “potential crisis” attention going to the wide swath of conflict and instability that runs from the Middle East through to Central Africa. But the region is definitely getting a lot of attention from strategic analysts. The fact that it’s now becoming an extended field of Asia’s emerging power rivalry adds yet another level of complexity and volatility to the equation.

As I mentioned last week, the Indian domestic political opposition which (along with U.S congressional time constraints) is jeopardizing the U.S.-Indian nuclear deal is not necessarily hostile to the broader vision of a U.S.-Indian strategic relationship. The stakes in Central Asia help explain the logic of such a relationship for both sides.

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