Center for Strategic Assessment and forecasts

Autonomous non-profit organization

Home / Defence and security / / Articles
The U.S. Congress held hearings about the possibility of wars over resources in Central Asia
Material posted: Publication date: 04-08-2013

A U.S. congressional Committee held a July 25 hearing on "the emergence of the threat of resource wars" in Central Asia. But to establish what the threat is and if it exists at all, as a result failed.

The hearing was held by the House Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and emerging threats (House Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats) under the chairmanship of Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (Dana Rohrabacher), bringing their idiosyncratic convictions about the region in the work of the Subcommittee since he was appointed its head earlier this year.

In his opening speech Rohrabacher made a grim warning that "increasing demand in the world markets for mineral and energy resources causes a fierce economic competition, which can lead to counterproductive conflict. ... In a world where one side can acquire resources for development, only took it from another, it is assumed the appearance of a conflict. When I see the new resources, as in Central Asia, there is concern that they are not enough, and so there arises a conflict." However, pointing out that China and India are developing rapidly and need resources, it is not explained how this could lead to war in Central Asia.

Speaking at the expert hearing (from the U.S. government was no one there) politely pointed out that while in Central Asia have resources and access to them are trying to get the various parties, signs of any armed conflict is not observed. "In Central Asia indeed there is competition for resources, as elsewhere in the world," said ed Chow (Chow Ed), energy specialist at the Center for strategic and international studies (Center for Strategic and International Studies), adding that "with all due respect to the Subcommittee, the concept of wars over resources is often exaggerated" (see the full report here). Chow mentioned that an adviser to the U.S. state Department on the project of gas pipeline TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India).

Other expert speakers, Neil brown, working at the Marshall Fund "Germany-USA" (German Marshall Fund of the United States), expressed the view that "the desire to gain control over the territories because of there resources is evident worldwide, but this trend often occurs within countries and not between countries. ... Fortunately, in Central Asia on this front relatively quiet" (see the full report here).

The foregoing is not to say that conflict over resources in Central Asia is impossible. Neal brown mentioned the potential for conflict in the Caspian sea. "The question of the responsibility of the rich energy resources of the Caspian seabed sometimes leads to unnecessary tension between countries in the region. In particular, Russia opposes TRANS-Caspian pipeline project that would allow Turkmenistan to diversify gas exports, opening the "window to Europe" bypassing Russia", – he said.

Ed Chow, in turn, pointed to the fact that most often the tension in the region arises from other resource – water. "In my opinion, the conflicts in Central Asia are most likely to flare up over control over water and not oil and gas resources," he said at the hearing.

Unfortunately, most of the attention of the U.S. government regarding the region that focuses on armed conflicts. Here are the topics of the previous hearing before the Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and emerging threats in the current session: "Islamist extremism in Chechnya: a threat to U.S. security?", "Rapid political and economic advancement of China in Central Asia" and "the Threat of militant Islamism in Eurasia". All of these topics, no doubt, important. But how much more likely that the conflicts in the region will lead them, and not, say, a weak political regime under the leadership of an aging, corrupt and/or venal dictators?


Joshua Kucera


RELATED MATERIALS: Defence and security