Pipelines are forever

Interesting little article on FP Pipeline politics redux By Steve LeVine
Generals are consigned to fight the last war, as we know from the 118 million hits that Google turns up on the phrase. But must politicians? Such has been the spectacle this week in Istanbul, where the West and Russia did their best imitation of the uber-dramatic pipeline wars of the 1990s that established the United States as a key player on the Caspian Sea. Meanwhile, 2,000 miles to the east, an unchallenged China advanced another rook by signing a preliminary deal to pipe Uzbek natural gas into Xinjiang, and supported a fourth round of United Nations sanctions against Iran on the condition that it could continue its gasoline trade with Tehran.

In any case, there is still intrigue on the Caspian. In December, China opened an 1,100-mile natural gas line starting in Turkmenistan, and connecting into the Chinese natural gas grid in Xinjiang. Iran has done the same in a smaller way, but China is fast replacing the United States as the main geopolitical-balancer in Central Asia. China's energy policy also undermines U.S. efforts to isolate Iran, another Caspian Sea state. Here is Michael Klare on that topic.

China's investments are also giving the country a lasting presence in Central Asia that, so far, the United States has failed to match. It almost doesn't matter that the U.S. has put down military bases in the region. The Manas Air Base in Kyrgyzstan is ephemeral; pipelines by comparison are forever. China, its eye affixed on the original prize, has won the second round of pipeline politics.
Worth reading the whole thing. Both Beijing and Gazprom are running rings round us.

Edited to add:

And The new Iran sanctions are a bigger deal than they seem and Actually, they're really not by Levitt and Drezner.

Drezner has a point, smart sanctions won't work but that is all that Beijing's going to tolerate as it's got its eye on Iran's gas reserves. Actually faced with a skilled evader like Qom even dumb sanctions are not going to work in the time frame available.
The (Great) Game's afoot.

The previous Kyrgyz regime was extremely friendly to Beijing, based on trade relations, energy and mineral exports and a shared suspicion of their respective Uighur seperatists. Looks like the new incumbents want to keep a pillow fluffed in Moscow as well.

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