President Bush is pursuing closer ties to oil-rich Kazakhstan despite what
human rights observers have said is a disturbing backslide toward autocracy
in the former Soviet republic.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice did not answer when asked Monday whether
human rights or energy would top the agenda for a meeting with her Kazakh
counterpart. The session on the sidelines of the United Nations General
Assembly sets up a coveted White House invitation for Kazakh President
Nursultan Nazarbayev on Friday. . . .
Kazakhstan has grown in importance because of its huge oil reserves. The
vast Central Asian republic, which is the size of Western Europe, is
expected to pump 3.5 billion barrels of oil a day in the coming decade.
With the other four former Soviet Central Asian nations being more
authoritarian, too unstable, too poor, or a combination of all three,
Kazakhstan emerges as the West's logical ally in the strategic energy-rich
region north of Afghanistan and Iran. . . .
"The New Great Game," Guardian,
October 20, 2003
president to be given green light to rule for a third decade,"
Independent, January 15, 2011