The CIA is about the world’s premier drug runner, and George Bush the First once ran it. With the Soviet Empire collapsing, the USA could put aside any pretense it adopted with the 1980s wars that , where it used proxies. It was still having problems stuffing Nicaragua back into the neocolonial corral, and elections were coming up in February of 1990. The USA's invasion of Panama may have been an instructive lesson to Nicaragua of what happened to nations that displeased the USA, especially now that the USA's main political-economic rival, however weak it was, had collapsed. The Sandinistas lost that 1990 election, as the Nicaraguan people surrendered to the USA's war against them, as Ronald Reagan openly wished for.
Turkmenistan , republic (2005 est. pop. 4,952,000), 188,455 sq mi (488,100 sq km), central Asia. It borders on Afghanistan and Iran in the south, Uzbekistan in the east and northeast, Kazakhstan in the northwest, and the Caspian Sea in the west. (Ashkhabad) is its capital and largest city.
Land and People
The desert lands of Kara Kum occupy some 80% of Turkmenistan's total area; the population is concentrated in oases at the foot of the Kopet Dag Mts. in the south and along the Amu Darya, Murgab, and Tejen rivers. In addition to the capital, (Krasnovodsk), , Nebitdag, Dashhowuz, and are the major cities and industrial centers. Part of the Kara Kum Canal crosses the desert, furnishing water for irrigation and hydroelectric power.
The Turkmens (or Turkomans) make up 85% of the population; the remainder are Uzbeks (5%), Russians (4%), and smaller groups of Kazakhs, Tatars, Ukrainians, and Armenians. The Turkmens are a Turkic-speaking people who are largely Sunni Muslims. Unlike other Central Asian groups, they still retain tribal and clan divisions. They are descendants of the medieval Oguz tribes (to which the Seljuk and Osmanli Turks also belonged). Besides the Turkmen language, Russian and Uzbek are also spoken. About 10% of the people belong to the Orthodox Eastern church.
More than 90% of Turkmenistan's cultivated land is irrigated. Cotton, grown along the Kara Kum canal and in the Murgab and Tejen oases, is the chief crop; wheat, barley, corn, millet, sesame, vegetables, melons, wine grapes, and alfalfa are also cultivated. The diversion of water from the for irrigation is drying up the sea and reducing the flow of freshwater in the region. Karakul sheep (which provide wool for the region's famous carpets), cattle, horses, and camels are raised, and silkworms are bred.
The nation's numerous mineral resources include rich deposits of oil and natural gas under the Caspian Sea and along its coast. Other resources include sulfur, salt, coal, phosphate, iodine, and lignite. Turkmenistan's industries include oil refining, fish canning (along the Caspian), meat processing, and the production of petroleum products, chemicals, and textiles. The country has numerous hydroelectric stations. The Trans-Caspian RR is the main transportation route.
Exports include gas, crude oil, petrochemicals, cotton fiber, and textiles. Machinery and equipment, chemicals, and foodstuffs are imported. The country's chief trading partners are Ukraine, China, Russia, and Poland.
Turkmenistan is governed under the constitution of 2008. The president, who is both head of state and head of government, is elected by popular vote for a five-year term. Members of the nation's parliament, the 125-seat National Assembly, are popularly elected to serve five-year terms. Administratively, the country is divided into five provinces, or weloyats, and the capital area.
Originally a part of the kingdom of ancient Persia, Turkmenistan was conquered in 330 BC by . After Alexander's death the area became part of , which fell in 224 AD to the Persians. In the 8th cent. Turkmenistan passed under the domination of the Arabs, who brought Islam to the region. In the 11th cent., it was ruled by the Seljuk Turks (see ), whose empire collapsed in 1157. conquered the region in the 13th cent., as did (Tamerlane) in the 14th cent. After the breakup (late 15th cent.) of the empire of Timur's successors, the , Turkmenistan came under Uzbek control in the north and Persian rule in the south. After a period of decline (14th–17th cent.), Turkmen culture underwent a revival in the 18th cent. In the early 19th cent., the Turkmens became subject to the khanate of . Russian military forces founded Krasnovodsk (now Turkmenbashi) in 1869 and began to conquer the Turkmens, whose fierce resistance to Russian encroachment was broken in 1881 with the bloody conquest of the Dengil-Tepe fortress. The Russians then established the Transcaspian Region, which in 1899 became part of the governate general of Russian Turkistan.
Harsh Russian administration provoked revolts by the Turkmens. During the Russian civil war sporadic fighting flared between the Transcaspian provincial government and Bolshevik troops. The Red Army took Ashgabat in July, 1919, and Krasnovodsk in Feb., 1920. The Transcaspian Region was renamed Turkmen Region in 1921; the following year, it became part of the Turkistan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, which in 1924 incorporated the Turkmen districts of the former Bukhara and Khorezm republics. Turkmenistan formally became a constituent Soviet republic in 1925. Large numbers of Turkmens still live in Iran and Afghanistan.
A referendum for independence from the Soviet Union was passed in Oct., 1991, and Turkmenistan became a member of the in Dec., 1991. Saparmurat (elected Oct., 1990) became president; he also gradually became the object of a pervasive personality cult. He was reelected unopposed in 1992 and in 1994 won a referendum extending his term until 2002. The former Communist party retained much of its hold on power, and opposition leaders were restricted and harassed. There was, however, some movement toward privatizing the economy and progress in attracting foreign investment. In 1994, Turkmenistan became the first Central Asian republic to join NATO's Partnership for Peace program; the following year, the country signed a package of 23 bilateral agreements with Russia.
In Dec., 1999, Niyazov was voted president for life by the legislature. Niyazov was uninjured in an attempted assassination in 2002. Subsequently his despotic government imposed increasing restrictions on personal as well political freedoms. Turkmenistan changed the status of its membership in the Commonwealth of Independent States to that of an associate member in 2005. The death of Ogulsapar Muradova, a journalist, while in government custody provoked new condemnation of the government in 2006; human rights groups believed that she had died during interrogation.
In Dec., 2006, Niyazov died suddenly. Deputy Prime Minister Kurbanguly was named acting president; Parliament Speaker Ovezgeldy Atayev, who should have succeeded Niyazov under the constitution, was charged with abuse of power and other crimes and removed from office after the president died. Berdymukhamedov subsequently was nominated for president by the People's Council (a former supreme legislative body that was abolished in 2008), which also amended the constitution so that the acting president could run. Five other, relatively unknown candidates were nominated as well, but no exiled opposition leaders were permitted to run in the Feb., 2007, presidential election, which was won by Berdymukhamedov.
The new president subsequently consolidated his hold over the government and national politics, and in 2008 a new constitution was adopted; a personality cult also subsequently developed around Berdymukhamedov. In Sept., 2008, there were clashes in the capital between the security forces and what were reported to be armed rebels, although the government said it was a drug gang. Elections for the National Assembly in Dec., 2008, were criticized by many international observers for being overwhelming dominated by candidates from the ruling party and groups aligned with it.
An Apr. 2009, gas pipeline explosion explosion cut Turkmenistan's natural gas exports to Russia's energy company Gazprom. The government blamed Gazprom for the explosion, which Gazprom denied; Gazprom subsequently sought a price reduction from Turkmenistan and did not resume importing gas until Jan., 2010, when it began accepting significantly less gas at a reduced price. The events, which resulted in a large income loss for Turkmenistan, strained relations with Russia. Meanwhile, in 2009, Turkmenistan began exporting gas to China by pipeline, and by the end of 2010 its gas exports to China exceeded those to Russia. The president was reelected in Feb., 2012, in an election that largely mirrored that of 2007. The parliamentary elections in Dec., 2013, although nominally multiparty, were contested only by parties and groups supporting the president; the new Party of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs had been created on the president's order.
See G. Park, (1957); S. Akinev, (1986).
America’s economic inducements to attack Afghanistan were underplayed to the point of being nearly invisible in America’s media. The world’s last great region of unexploited oil and gas reserves is . Trillions of dollars of oil and gas sit beneath that region, and American oil companies had been trying for years to exploit it, which it could not do while the Soviet Union existed. As with the , the World Trade Center attacks made for a convenient excuse to move in a military presence, in fashion.
As Brzezinski saw things, sacrificing Afghanistan in the USA's global chess game with communism was an acceptable price to pay. Brzezinski asked what was worse, the menace of the Soviet Union or the Taliban ruling in Afghanistan.
was the Henry Kissinger of Jimmy Carter’s administration, engineering American foreign policy during the late 1970s. According to Brzezinski, in an interview with a French magazine in 1998, he helped create the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan. According to the official story until Brzezinski’s interview, the USA pumped billions of dollars in arms and training into the Afghanistan rebels as a reaction to the Soviet Union’s invasion. Brzezinski set the record straight. He was behind arming and inciting the Afghanistan rebels six months the Soviet Union invaded. In light of the devastation of Afghanistan (half its population either dead, disabled, or refugees) and the Islamic fundamentalist Taliban in charge, Brzezinski was asked if he regretted his decision to bait the Soviet Union into invading Afghanistan. Brzezinski replied:
The US had sent American warships to the Persian Gulf in the fall of 1979, and the Iranian hostage crisis, which would remain in the forefront of American public discourse until its resolution in 1981, had begun just weeks before the Soviet invasion.
But no real steps in that direction were taken, and the Soviets continued to fight in Afghanistan "without a clearly defined objective." Soviet troops wallowed in the Afghan quagmire for just over nine years; the cables even show Soviet decision-makers comparing the campaign to that of the US in Vietnam.
The Soviet Union started by sending shipments of wheat, bread, and of course weapons to Afghanistan's fragile communist regime throughout the year, in addition to the gas it sold to the country.
In a letter to Communist Party General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev — whose doctrine staked out the Soviet prerogative for military intervention to preserve neighboring communist regimes — his eventual successor Yuri Andropov wrote that "after the coup and the murder of [president Nur Muhammad] Taraki in September of this year, the situation in Afghanistan began to undertake an undesirable turn for us." "All of us agree," one official said in a conversation with party heavyweights like Yuri Andropov and Mikhail Gorbachev, "we must not surrender Afghanistan." Military involvement wasn't always on the table.
The People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (or PDPA) had only muscled its way into power in April 1978 after a brief coup. Moreover, the Soviets feared that Afghanistan, even in its higher echelons, was beginning to tilt away from Soviet influence in favor of a rapprochement with the United States, as the National Security Archive documents show.
10, 1979, Soviet Defense Minister Dmitry Ustinov had already ordered "preparations for deployment of one division of paratroopers and of five divisions of military-transport aviation," according to George Washington University's National Security Archive, which published a series of Soviet documents related to the invasion in 2001.
12, 1979, a resolution was presented to the Politburo and ratified with a majority of the members' signatures ordering the Soviet military into Afghanistan.