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All aboard the New Silk Road(s)

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Technically, Chabahar is closer to the Gulf of Oman while Gwadar is in the Arabian Sea. Pakistan is not exactly being isolated -- because Tehran and Islamabad have already discussed, at the highest levels, a possible connection between Chabahar and Gwadar. Iran, by the way, is also developing Gwadar's power grid.   

The key fact remains inescapable; both are absolutely key pawns in the New Great Game in Eurasia -- and also happen to be at the heart of Pipelineistan.   

IP will go through Gwadar -- with the now distinct possibility of a Chinese-built extension parallel to the Karakoram highway all the way to Xinjiang. And Gwadar may also become a terminal in case the perennially plagued Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline is ever built (that is, if the Taliban finally get their cut).  

Washington, of course, has its own New Silk Road ideas, linking Central to South Asia. But that's a mirage in the desert without incorporating Iran -- linked to both Pakistan and India (which imports 12 percent of its oil -- and rising -- from Iran, increasingly paid for in Indian rupees).  

That Silk Road is more like an American cheeseburger, in the form of the Northern Distribution Network (NDN) -- a logistical/military marathon snaking across Central Asia so the US and NATO may supply their war in Afghanistan bypassing "unreliable" Pakistan.  

And the cheeseburger becomes a Big Mac when it expands to the not-so-hidden American desire of implanting, or re-implanting, the Empire of Bases all over the Central Asian "stans." US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's recent schmoozing of Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan fits exactly this purpose.  

What's absolutely certain is that no major Eurasian power -- especially Russia and China - will subscribe to Washington's silken package. The indigenous New Silk Road(s) linking South Asia to Central Asia, Southwest Asia and China may be seen as a process not dissimilar to South American emancipation where regional actors, for instance, are working on a decent highway connection from Brazil's Atlantic coast to the Pacific, and not having to route all their regional communication traffic via the US.  

This is all about a great escape from the Atlanticist-dominated routes of trade, commerce and finance. The New Silk Road(s) will be built by Asia -- and not by the West.

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Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times. His regular column, "The Roving Eye," is widely read. He is an analyst for the online news channel Real News, the roving correspondent for Asia Times/Hong Kong, an analyst for RT and (more...)
 

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