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Fri 24 November 2017

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Kazakhstan is the largest unexplored oil bearing region in the world and one of the more stable of the Central Asian countries. Islamic radicalism is rare and natural resources are abundant. It is a prime target for foreign interests and investment. President Nursultan Nazarbayev is a former communist turned democrat. heads an increasing corrupt and despotic regime since independence, a theme common to most Central Asian countries.

· 1.6 million square miles
· Long thin country - 2 thousand miles from east to west

· Astana
· Used to be Almaty, moved at great (wasteful) expense in 1998

Important Sites
· Baikonur cosmodrome

o Nuclear missile test site during soviet times
o Still rented out to the Russians
· Semiplastinik
o Main soviet testing ground for nuclear weapons

· Only 17 million people
· Millions of Russians and Cossacks were settled in northern Kazakhstan by the Russians and the Soviets in order to subdue and 'Russify' the region
· Prior to independence only a minority (38%) of the population was kazak, 41% were ethnic Russians
· Large out flux of Russians at independence, total population reduced by 8%
· Russians given dual nationality post independence in an attempt to stop the drain
· Now

o 52% Kazak (in the centre)
o 30% Russians in the north
o Uzbeks in the south

· 47% Muslim
· 43% Russian Orthodox

The Kazaks
· Descend from the nomadic tribes who migrated from southern Siberia

· Converted to Islam late, under the influence of Tartar Mullahs of the 17th century
· Islamic extremism is rare in Kazakhstan
· Some overspill from militant Uzbek minorities in the south

· President Nusultan Nazarbayev
· Ethnic Kazak
· Former Communist Party member (head of Supreme Soviet)
· Formed Unity Party at independence and has won all elections since
· Term of office extended by referendum in 1995
· Has extended his powers by presidential decree

o Parliamentary Bill passed in 2000 gave him lifelong political and legal rights and immunity against charges
· Opposition parties are harassed and banned, leaders are jailed or forced to flee

· Daughter Darzia Naz owns 80% of TV and Newspaper media
· Daria Naz's husband is head of Kazakhstan's internal security
· Is set to take over inherit her fathers role
· Son-in-law Timur Kulebaev and Nephew Kairat Satybala own the largest businesses

· Largest unexplored oil bearing region in the world
· Estimated 100 billion barrels of oil and 85 trillion cubic feet of gas along Caspian sea coastline

Foreign interests
· There has been $400-800 million invested in lucrative exploration deals. Interested parties are:

o US
o China
o Europe
o India
o Japan
o Turkey
· Khazakistan traditionally dependent on Russian pipelines for oil exports to the west
· Russia now wants a stake in any new pipelines which are built, and objects to pipelines avoiding Russian territory
· Caspian Pipeline Consortium recently built a new pipeline from from the Tenghiz oil field to the Black Sea Port of Novorossiysk in Russia, which should eventually transport 560,000 barrels a day
· China bought major stakes in Kazak oil fields in 1999, but there has been no pipeline as yet
· US and NATO have paid $400 million for disarmament of soviet ballistic missles, to stabilise the region
· The IMF and World Bank have given Kazakistan extensive loans for privatisiation of industry and land.



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