President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev announced his government’s readiness for oil prices as low as forty dollars per barrel. The Kazakh leader convened a press conference which was broadcast across the country seemingly to reassure anxious Kazakhs that the company does indeed “have a plan” should oil prices continue to drop. The speech, while replete with reassurances that oil prices would not exacerbate an already troublesome domestic economic situation, was scarce in terms of details.
Kazakhstan is home to the second-largest set of oil reserves in the Former Soviet Union outside of Russia, and as such is expected to be one of those most impacted by falling prices. It is unclear whether Kazakhstan, like Russia, has the necessary foreign reserves to be able to weather the storm presented by falling oil prices, as Astana, much like Moscow, has little else to draw from outside of its hydrocarbons sector.
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- Reuters reports that a shrinking budget is unlikely to deter Iranian policymakers from their own nuclear objectives. Failing oil prices are expected to have a sharp impact on the Persian nation’s economy though the nation’s chief interests, including the nuclear program but also extending to Syria and other strong alliances, will remain untouched. The budget for these key initiatives comes from Iranian Ayatollah Khamanei, and does not need the approval of the Iranian parliament. Optimists have nonetheless predicted increased determination in Iran to reach a nuclear accord in order to avoid the effects of both sanctions and the downturn in the world energy market.
- More than 200 kilograms of heroin and other drugs were seized and subsequently incinerated in Turkmenistan. The Turkmen village of Bagabat holds annual events to celebrate the destruction of drugs seized in the nearby border regions and the abilities of the security forces that were responsible for seizing them. A series of special operations was organized with the purpose of capturing local smugglers, and was convened by the Turkmen State Coordination Commission on Drug Abuse and attended by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.
- Tajik opposition leader Umarali Quvvatov was detained in Turkey this past weekend. The leader has been labeled by officials in Dushanbe as an “extremist” colluding to overthrow the national government, though supporters have been quick to decry these accusations as baseless. Quvvatov’s passport and computers were taken and his precise location has not been made known. This is the second time that Quvvatov has been arrested by a foreign government.
- Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have continued to improve border cooperation near the troubled Fergana Valley. The two sides are reported to have met more than 80 times in 2014, and have established committees dedicated to resolving water-related issues and territorial claims as well as clearly demarcate the two sides’ pasturelands. Goals for 2015 were set in a recent meeting in Batken Province, Kyrgyzstan, and include the resolution of 32 ongoing disputes, including those pertinent to military behavior towards civilians and remaining energy-related concerns.