Everyone started tweeting on Friday that Hillary Clinton would announce sometime Sunday that she was running for president. So I floated the idea to my Diplomat colleagues of doing a piece on what a Clinton presidency may mean for Asia. With their research in hand (seriously, I floated the idea and they sent me links to speeches!) I did some weekend work and this was posted Sunday shortly after the announcement went live. Paying attention trumps regurgitating press releases any day.
Monday, Kazakhstan’s Navy celebrated its 22nd birthday. Sure, it is more of a coast guard but hey, the Caspian is super important and filled with oil and gas. Then Russia actually settled (and made public) a sale of S-400 missile defense systems to China. It’s not a huge deal since China already had S-300s, but it does mean Russia decided (again) to overlook the fact China will steal the tech and it is the first foreign sale of the system.
Back to Kazakhstan (with a side of Uzbekistan) I discussed why Central Asia is super excited about progress between the P5+1 and Iran: namely simple economics and validation. Then Kurt Campbell, a guy one reporter told me is being tapped by the Clinton team (if true, means she’s betting Asia is super important), spoke before the Senate Armed Services Committee. He said some interesting things.
Then India’s Ambassador to Afghanistan said there is and there is not a proxy war between India and Pakistan in Afghanistan. There is. But while the Ghani administration seems keen to embrace Pakistan (which the Karzai administration pulled back from doing), India is eager to remind Afghanistan that Pakistan has not always been that great of a neighbor.
Back to Central Asia, Amnesty International dropped a torture report on Uzbekistan. It’s about as disturbing as you’d expect. Fun fact: I quoted myself writing about Human Rights Watch’s Uzbekistan prison report from last fall. Human rights defenders seem, to me, to be betting that decreased US attention in Afghanistan means a higher likelihood of the US actually pushing back on the Karimov regime. Others fear, with justification, that US region-wide apathy is what will happen instead.
Last week Tajikistan decided the best way to narrow the pool of hajj aspirants was to set an age limit at 35. Handy, if youth radicalization is your major fear. Also, reports of forced beard shavings. Somehow this piece got more views than all the rest, even the Clinton I think.
Friday, I drove off the Lexington for a weekend in the bluegrass. But first I posted this piece on Kashagan, an oil field in the north Caspian that has been nothing but trouble. If it ever gets online it will be worth it, it’s one of the largest oil finds in the past 30 years.