Tuesday, April 8, 2014


Good question this week in my INTL 5665 Central and South Asian Studies Masters class...what are the relations between the US and Turkmenistan? Here you would start by looking first at US policy regarding this country.
During the administration of GW Bush, the focus was on Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, in order to obtain military bases re: NATO-US war against Taliban 2001-now.
Under Obama, there has been rapprochement (a French term used in diplomacy which means attempting new relations after either hostilities or neutrality). Obama wants to focus on energy cooperation (the TAPI pipeline) and so Turkmenistan became important, as well as Kazakhstan, Central Asia's largest producer and exporter of oil (Turkmenistan is the region's largest producer and exporter of natural gas.)  But Turkmenistan wants to diversify export routes of its gas - and this is its key foreign policy objective.
Obstacles in the way of the US being a prime economic ally of this country are these:
1) Hegemonic influence of the USSR - still a major holdover from the days of the USSR
2) Turkmenistan sees China as a major consumer, and this has resulted in extensive Sino-Turkmenistan energy cooperation.
3) Because the US is promoting democracy and human rights in Central Asia, the US State Department cannot take the government of Turkmenistan's abysmal human rights record, lightly.  Amnesty International noted that in 2013, in February, "President Berdimuhamedov was re-elected with 97.4% of the vote. The OSCE did not send election monitors, citing limited political freedom in Turkmenistan.
In March, the UN Human Rights Committee concluded that although Turkmenistan showed a “new willingness” to improve its human rights record, a disparity between legislation and implementation persisted."
The US must still, according to its energy objectives, attempt rapprochement. A 2013 Congressional Research Service report states that US has provided and $6.02 million in FY 2013, and has requested $6.455 million for FY 2014 - excluding amounts from Defense and Energy Department funding. 



Recent Developments and U.S. Interests

Jim Nichol

Specialist in Russian

and Eurasian Affairs

December 12, 2013


No comments:

Post a Comment