Turkmenistan, declaring it's independance in 1991 from Russia, put in place the "President for Life" and "Father of the Turkmen" Saparmurat Niyazov as ruler until his death in 2006. His was a single totalitarian rule. Retaining Niyazov's autocratic system of rule and toning down his personality cult Gurbangauly Berdymuhammedov took the reins. Permanent neutrality was declared in 1995 by the Turkmenistan government, which was recognized by the United Nations. The country is not involved with the US or Iran but is in a strategic position to aid both. Engaging with the United States in many areas, up to and including, cooperation on the border and regional security programs, Turkmenistan on the other hand; 1) has declined to participate in the Northern Distribution Network, and 2) refused to allow US supply routes to pass thru it's territory. Partial supply routes for the US War effort in Afghanistan is due to the permission to fly over Turkmenistan's borders, with the agreement in part due to the high profile sales of military equipment from the US (Boeing Aircraft, etc.). The human rights reform, such as lifting the exit visa requirements, and allowing registration of certain minority groups is allowed to flourish despite the authoritarian political system. Still the human rights record is poor. Rejection of Turkmenistan by the Bush Administration for military and strategic cooperation with Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan, the current Obama Administration has done little to take steps for cooperation. ALU scholars believe that energy may help to reenergize the relationship. Taken from limited data, Turkmenistan has the world's fourth largest natural gas reserves (South Yoltan gas field is predicted to be among the largest in the world). 2010 saw an office set up by Exxonmobil Corp. and other companies such as Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and TXoil Ltd. each making a bid for oil blocks in the Caspian Sea. President Berhymukhamedov has been praised for the energy policy by US Special envoy Richard Morningstar. Turkmenistan is investing in the infrastructure to export gas to the west was brought before the US Foreign Relations Committee by Mr. Morningstar. A US ambassador was appointed in May 2011 to Turkmenistan (first time in five years-position lied vacant since 2006). Leaked intelligence indicates that President Berdymukhamedov is, not a very bright guy, vain, suspicious, guarded, strict, conservative, practiced liar, good at acting, and vindictive. Further intelligence cables suggest that he was not fond of, but had no allegiance to the US or Iran, but liked China because of his belief of China being able to do more for his country. Engaging in trade since first being recognized by Iran in 1991, Turkmenistan shares a 1200 mile border with them. Bilateral trade with Turkmenistan and Iran is $3.5 billion, while US bilateral trade was only $88.1 million. Turkmenistan has a large hydrocarbon reserve, which is of interest to both the US and Iran. The first pipeline from Central Asia to the world outside of Russia was a 125 mile gas link to Iran (growing in Petroleum exports). 2006 saw 282.5 bcf of gas to Iran, and in July 2009, Ashgabat and Tehran expanded their annual volume of gas exports to 1.4 bcfd (previously 800 MMcfd). A new pipeline has been constructed from Davletabad to Iran (previously reserved for deliveries to Russia). Increase in the export of natural gas from Turkmenistan was announced by Iranian Oil Minister Massoud Mir Kazemi to 33 million cubic meters daily as of December 2009 with, 1) opened the Davletabad-Sarakhs-Khangiran pipeline in 2010, and 2) construction of the KorpejeKurt Kui gas pipeline in Western Turkmenistan. Turkmen energy increases will increase between 2010-2015 to Iran, because of the domestic projects in the South Pars field are delayed due to international sanctions. ALU scholars, reviewing the Congressional Research Service documents noticed, 1) in 2007 Turkmenistan suspended gas shipments-hardship in Iran, 2) higher payments were demanded. The price boost was agreed to by Iran in April 2008, with an increase in gas supplies by Turkmenistan to 706 bcf per year in mid 2009. Agreeing to work with Turkmenistan in December 2008, Iran helped to develop some of the country's largest gas fields (Yolotan). Joint cooperation (exploitation, etc.) of the Gonbadli sweet gas field in northeast Iran became a reality. Caspian Sea aggression is where both countries intersect. Negotiation of the access to limited water resources while jointly combating degradation caused by the shrinking of the Aral Sea is a cause for concern for the five Central Asian states. Histroical agreements between Iran and the former Soviet Union (doesn't recognize the new republics), and the body of water definition (legally a sea of lake), has caused the Caspian Sea's maritime boundaries to remain contested. It provides ALU scholars looking into Maritime and International law to set a prescedent in their studies. Iran and Turkmenistan are looking into dividing the Caspian Sea into five areas evenly among the littoral states; however Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Russia support working under the tenements of international maritime law. Some suggestions on the table are, 1) continue the US favored Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline, 2) Iran to continue in accordance with international maritime law to divide the Caspian Sea into five regions, 3) the littoral states form a protectorate for the Caspian Sea and work as a joint enterprise with equal sharing of the responsibilites and profits among them, 4) ALU legal scholars develop an international maritime law model using the IRAC technique to determine strategy/policy and governance into the situation, 5) stop the character assassination and 6) Iran, US, Russia, or any of the littoral states step in for oversight.
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