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The June summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) highlighted China's swelling economic presence in Central Asia. Chinese premier Hu Jintao unveiled an ambitious agenda for the region, with $10b in loans to be infused into the corresponding projects. At the moment, the Chinese investments in Central Asian republics estimatedly total $20b, and Beijing evidently aims at the role of the main economic partner of the entire Central Asia, especially in the spheres of energy and transit.

China is open about being keenly interested in Central Asian energy sector and transit projects. At the summit, Hu Jintao called the Central Asian partners to move on to the formation of an integrated network of railroad and expressway transit, telecommunications, and energy supply and pledged China's assistance in the training of 1,500 specialists from SCO countries over the next three years, along with financial support for 30,000 students and professors plus perks like scholarships for 10,000 visitors from the Confucius Institutes scattered across the SCO countries over the next five. The above list shows that the Chinese soft power is meant to reinforce Beijing's already impressive economic influence in Central Asia.

On May 23, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India penned a deal to construct the Trans-Afghanistan pipeline which is supposed to pump gas from Turkmenistan to South Asia. It appears at the moment that the partners in the project whose feasibility provoked debates of varying intensity since the early 1990ies finally managed to achieve some clarity concerning such key issues as the outlet point of the route and the future buyers for the gas to be supplied.

The planned throughput of the 1,700-km Trans-Afghanistan pipeline is currently set to 33 bcm annually, the main target markets being India and Pakistan which are to absorb 14 bcm a year each. The remaining 5 bcm should go to Afghanistan. The route is to pass through Herat and Kandahar in Afghanistan, Quetta and Multan in Pakistan, and to reach Fazilka in India. The Indian cost estimate for the construction is $12b and the resources will be drawn from Galkynysh gas field in Turkmenistan which is currently being sold by Ashgabat as the world's largest.

Russian general staff chief Gen. N. Makarov warned at a media briefing in Moscow on September 12 that revolutions patterned on the Libyan one can recur in Central Asia.

A wave of anti-government protests in the Arab world has made us think about whether such events are possible in other parts of the planet. Then Central Asia comes to mind immediately as a region which has much in common with the Arab civilization. The leaders of Central Asian regions do not seem to rule out the possibility of social unrest among their people. Any kind of information about the ongoing crisis in the Arab world receives poor coverage in the local media and is always censored.

Hizb ut-Tahrir and other similar international radical Islamic political organizations have intensified their activities in Central Asia. In Tajikistan several dozens of members of Hizb ut-Tahrir have been arrested. During such arrests police usually finds batches of books, brochures, CDs with the propaganda of radical Islam.

Finally, the parliamentary elections in Kyrgyzstan to which the republic exhausted by the permanent crisis and craving for at least some sort of stability was inching so nervously are over. Contrary to alarmist forecasts, they neither were accompanied by another round of public unrest nor provoked clashes like those Kyrgyzstan's south was shattered by last July.

On 6th September reports emerged in Kyrgyzstan that drug mafia was getting prepared to smuggle 3 tons of drugs through the republic by means of armed invasion, similar to the one taking place during the war in Batken in 1999-2000, when each of the militants had 20-30 kg of drugs with him.

In recent years Tajikistan has been involved in the process of active Islamization. Being one of the poorest countries in the region, and still healing wounds of a bloody civil war of 1992-1997, Tajikistan turned out to be receptive to Islam. The consequences of this will certainly affect not only the country's political regime and its relations with other countries of Central Asia but also security of Russia, where hundreds of thousands of migrant workers arrive from Tajikistan each year.

In August the presidents of Russia, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan convened for the second time in Sochi. The summit was mainly necessitated by the recent tensions between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and by the coming pullout of the US forces from Afghanistan. No doubt, the withdrawal will tilt the geopolitical balance in Central Asia and, in particular, will expose Tajikistan – a republic sharing a long and poorly equipped border with Afghanistan – to serious risks.

The US plans to build military training centers in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. First these plans were announced last year and they received a wide response because earlier it had been announced that a Russian military base would be built in the south of Kyrgyzstan. Now Pentagon is not going to confine itself with Kyrgyzstan and plans to build military facilities on the territory of five states of the region. It implies the redeployment of part of military infrastructure of the US from Afghanistan to the former Soviet Central Asia and Kazakhstan and also the construction of NATO facilities there.