Towards a New World Order in Eurasia: The 21st Century’s Great Game (Part 2)

By James M. Dorsey

Shaping Eurasia’s energy architecture

The joker in the Great Game is Donald J. Trump’s United States. Trump has yet to spell out an overall policy towards Eurasia even though he has articulated attitudes towards individual players. One of those players, Iran, appears to be on his hitlist, much to Saudi Arabia’s delight.

A tougher US policy towards Iran, a nation of strategic importance to several of the Great Game’s players, has consequences and could undercut the Islamic republic’s strategic advantage in shaping the future architecture of Eurasia’s energy landscape. Unfettered by international sanctions, Iran is pivotal to the success of China’s trans-continental, infrastructure-focussed One Belt, One Road initiative in ways that Saudi Arabia is not.

In a study published in 2015, energy scholar Micha’el Tanchum suggested that it would be gas supplies from Iran and Turkmenistan, two Caspian Sea states, rather than Saudi oil that would determine which way the future Eurasian energy architecture tilts: China, the world’s third largest LNG importer, or Europe.

“Iran, within five years, will likely have 24.6 billion cubic metres of natural gas available for annual piped gas exports beyond its current supply commitments. Not enough to supply all major markets, Tehran will face a crucial geopolitical choice for the destination of its piped exports. Iran will be able to export piped gas to two of the following three markets: European Union (EU)/ Turkey via the Southern Gas Corridor centring on the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP), India via an Iran-Oman-India pipeline, or China via either Turkmenistan or Pakistan. The degree to which the system of energy relationships in Eurasia will be more oriented toward the European Union or China will depend on the extent to which each secures Caspian piped gas exports through pipeline infrastructure directed to its respective markets,” Tanchum argued.

The lifting of international sanctions in 2015 as part of an agreement on restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program significantly enhanced the Islamic republic’s ability to Eurasia’s energy architecture. Iran boasts the world’s second largest natural gas reserves and its fourth largest oil reserves.[i]

Source: International Gas Union

Tancuhum’s analysis means that China would have to ensure that it is Iran and Turkmenistan’s main gas importer. That would position One Way, One Belt as Eurasia’s key energy infrastructure and solidify Chinese influence in Central Asia. China already dominates Turkmen gas sales 

The one option Tanchum appeared not to consider was Iran choosing Europe and China as its main export markets despite Turkey’s proximity, cultural affinity, and already existing arrangements for the import of Iranian gas. Europe and China have already begun to put the blocks in place for a shared role in Eurasia. Tens of rail links traverse the Eurasian landmass from China to the Atlantic. Both China and Europe are developing new cities and trade hubs in remote locations that often were nodes on the ancient Silk road. These include Lanzhou in western China, Horgos/ Khorgos in the Saryesik-Atyrau desert on the Chinese-Kazakh border, and Terespol on the Polish-Belarus frontier.

The frenzy is attracting not only Chinese, Russian and European but also Japanese and Indian investment in the knowledge that emerging hubs and networks will be available to all. The open question is whether any one power will dominate them and, if so, who.

China has already many of the building blocks needed to turn its ambitions into reality: close and long-standing relations with Iran, significant investment in Turkmen gas production and pipeline infrastructure, and the construction of Pakistan’s section of the Iran-Pakistan pipeline. Hooking the pipeline to One Belt, One Road would allow China to receive Iranian gas not only by sea on its eastern seaboard but also in its land-locked, troubled north-western province Xinjiang.

Compensating for handicaps

Iran in positioning itself as a key link in China’s trans-continental One Belt, One Road initiative. Iran constitutes both a key land and maritime node. Saudi Arabia’s importance beyond energy supplies is at best maritime. The Maldives, a strategically located 820km-long chain of Indian Ocean atolls, has emerged as a significant player in Saudi Arabia’s effort to compensate for its handicap and ensure the secure export of its oil, gas and other goods to China.

Saudi interest coincides with increased Chinese investment in the Maldives, a collection of 1,200 coral islands, that opposition politicians believe could eventually host China’s next military base as well as Saudi military outpost. China and Saudi Arabia are independently constructing their first foreign military bases in Djibouti. They “want to have a base in the Maldives that would safeguard the trade routes, their oil routes, to their new markets. To have strategic installations, infrastructure,” said ousted former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed.[ii]

Saudi Arabia was negotiating a $10 billion development, if not the wholesale acquisition of Faafu, a collection of 19 low-lying islands 120 kilometres south of the Maldives capital of Male. The project would involve construction of seaports airports, high-end housing, and resorts and the creation of special economic zones policy. Saudi Arabia could be granted a freehold provided that 70 percent of the project is executed on reclaimed land.[iii] The investment would be three times the GDP of the Maldives, a nation of 400,000, including 100,000 foreign workers, that spans 1,000 kilometres across the Indian Ocean and some of the world's key shipping routes.

Saudi interest in Faafu with a 2014 visit by then crown prince Salman and his son Mohammed, now deputy crown prince. Mohammed returned a year later to host a week of parties. He and his entourage took over two resorts. Guests flew in night after night on private jets to attend the parties, which featured famous entertainers including the rapper Pitbull and the South Korean singer Psy. The Saudis signed at about that time a memorandum of understanding that involved the sale of Faafu to the kingdom.[iv]

Saudi Arabia and China moreover shouldered complimentary projects in the Maldives. Chinese premier Xi Jinping in 2014 construction of a $210 million Friendship Bridge that would connect Male to the Maldives airport.[v] The troubled Saudi Bin Laden Group won a contract to build a new terminal for the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport after having first awarded the project to an Indian company.[vi] Saudi Arabia has also pledged tens of millions of dollars in loans and grants for infrastructure and housing on an artificial island near Male.

China also agreed to build a new airport runway as well as a port in Laamu, an atoll south of Faafu. The port would be one more stone in China’s string of pearls. The Maldives, moreover, in 2016 leased Feydhoo Finolhu, an uninhabited island close to Mahe previously used by the government for school trips and youth activities, to a Chinese company for 50 years at a cost of $4 million.[vii]

Saudi and Chinese interest in the Maldives comes as the two countries upgrade military cooperation. “China is willing to push military relations with Saudi Arabia to a new level,” Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan told his visiting Saudi counterpart, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in  August 2016.[viii] Special counter-terrorism forces from the two countries held the first ever joint exercise between the Chinese military and an Arab armed force two months later. With the United States refusing to share its drone technology, China and Saudi Arabia agreed that China would open its first overseas defense production facility in the kingdom. State-owned China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC)  will manufacture its CH-4 Caihong, or Rainbow drone as well as associated equipment in Saudi Arabia.[ix]

To lay the ground for Saudi investment in the Maldives, Saudi Arabia provided the island republic in 2013 $300 million on soft terms and has massively funded religious institutions and education. The kingdom offers scholarships for Maldives students to pursue religious studies at the kingdom’s ultra-conservative universities in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina and has donated $100,000 to the Islamic University of the Maldives.

During a visit in 2015, Saudi Islamic Affairs Minister Saleh bin Abdulaziz promised to help the Maldives improve the collection of zakat, alms for the poor that constitute one of Islam’s five pillars, publish Islamic texts in English, speed up mosque construction, and train imams.[x] The kingdom has also funded the construction of the six-storey, multi-facility King Salman mosque, the island republic’s largest.[xi]

The kingdom has also not shied away from influencing public opinion by bribing journalists. In one incident, journalists were handed cash-filled envelopes during an event at the Saudi embassy in Mahe.[xii] Other journalists report that they are harassed when reporting critically on Saudi interests in the Maldives or on the rise of ultra-conservatism. Many journalists see the disappearance in 2014 of Ahmed Rilwan Abdulla, a prominent journalist, who wrote about secularism and ultra-conservatism, as warning.

Saudi Arabia’s investment paid off in early 2016 when the Maldives broke off diplomatic relations with Iran, charging that Iranian policy threatened security and stability in the Indian Ocean.[xiii] It has also left its mark on society. Saudi-funded ultra-conservatism has contributed to the Maldives, a popular high end tourist destination that prided itself on adhering to a blend of Sufism and other religions. becoming increasingly less tolerant and less accepting of liberal lifestyles. Forms of entertainment like mixed dancing and western beach garb have become acceptable only within the walls of expensive resorts. Reflecting the shift towards ultra-conservatism, a court in 2015 for the first time sentenced a woman to death by stoning for having committed adultery.[xiv] The Saudis “have had a good run of propagating their worldview to the people of the Maldives and they’ve done that for the last three decades. They’ve now, I think, come to view that they have enough sympathy for them to get a foothold,” Nasheed said.

Indian intelligence sources worry that the Maldives could become a base of a very different kind just off the sub-continental mainland[xv]. They and independent analysts[xvi] assert that hundreds of Maldivians have joined the ranks of IS in Syria – a significant number given the country’s tiny population.[xvii] Some 200 people carrying Islamic State flags marched in 2014 through Mahe demanding implementation of Sharia law instead of democracy.[xviii]

Punctured by protest

Troubled Asian ports that China envisions as part of it’s string of pearls linking the Eurasian heartland to the Middle Kingdom shine a glaring spotlight on the pitfalls threatening Beijing’s ambitious One Belt, One Road initiative, and offer a window into the Great Game’s dynamics. The pitfalls are magnified by mounting criticism of terms imposed by China in agreements for the development of infrastructure and growing anti-Chinese resentment.

Resentment has translated into increased violence in Balochistan, the Pakistani province that is home to the warm water, deep sea port of Gwadar that lies at the heart of One Belt, One Road. The violence is also fuelled by Pakistan’s long-standing ties to militant groups that regularly rock the country with their attacks. And it feeds on continued warfare in Afghanistan. As a result, Gwadar has yet to emerge as a major trans-shipment hub in Chinese trade and energy supplies.[xix]

Similarly, Chinese prospects for the development of Sri Lankan ports, including Hambantota, are clouded. Opposition that has spilled into the streets of the struggling port could dissuade Chinese investors from sinking billions of dollars into the flailing projects aimed at turning Hambantota into South Asia’s foremost port bolstered by an economic hub.[xx] Violence and protests have put the spotlight on terms that appear to define China’s win-win approach as China wins twice. China is not in the business of providing either non-military aid or budgetary support. Its loans provided by Chinese-backed development banks have turned out to be less soft that China would have people believe and produced debt traps for recipients.

Sri Lanka is struggling to escape the trap, cool-headed analysts fear Pakistan is heading towards one,[xxi] and Tajikistan is struggling to cope with the burden of debt to China. Forced to do a land for debt swap to reduce its huge debt to China, Tajikistan ceded control of 1,100 square kilometres of mountainous farm land to the under the garb of settling a centuries-old border dispute. The land in one of the world’s most impoverish countries is being tilled by Chinese farmers to the chagrin of many Tajiks.[xxii] The cancellation of a plan to expand the gas pipeline linking Turkmenistan to China is likely to exacerbate Turkmenistan’s economic crisis. Turkmenistan was counting on increased gas sales to help it turn the economy around. The expansion was cancelled because state-owned companies, China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and Uzbekneftegaz, failed to agree on terms that would have ensured that Uzbekistan would benefit from the pipeline beyond simply being a transit country.[xxiii]

The downside of perceived Chinese largesse has prompted Asian nations to play both ends against the middle. Sri Lanka, for example, initiated a partnership dialogue with the United States that led to military cooperation.[xxiv] A US naval vessel visited Sri Lanka weeks later followed subsequent visits[xxv] as well as the US Pacific Command providing humanitarian and engineering assistance in the Tamil north of the county.[xxvi] Most symbolically, a US maritime patrol aircraft arrived at Hambantota’s Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport in December of that year.[xxvii]

China’s efforts to balance its geopolitical ambitions with a need to address overcapacity as a result of a downturn in its economy dictates commercial terms of projects it backs creates opportunity for its rivals. China’s advantage is its ability and willingness to commit massive resources. Its Achilles Heel is the fact its initiatives are driven as much by domestic concerns as they are by geopolitical ambition. Chinese commercial terms are geared towards creating opportunity for China’s huge, state-owned infrastructure companies to stay afloat and maintain employment at a time that the government seeks to make consumption rather than production the main driver of the country’s economy. Chinese companies are aided in their endeavour by what Chinese chief executive officers call the China Way or the pursuit of growth at all costs, including, if need be, slashing profits, marginalizing shareholder returns and taking costly risks.[xxviii]

Western consultants estimate that China has allocated $100 billion a year to One Belt, One Road. Approximately half of that stimulates China’s domestic economy as expenditure on raw materials for overseas projects. It utilizes excess commodities such as steel and iron. Much of the remaining 50% is spent on construction, engineering, and high-tech equipment.[xxix]

China’s strategy may produce short-term economic relief but could prove long-term detrimental both economically and in terms of the country’s geopolitical ambitions. China brings as assets to the table funding, low-cost labour, and an ability to carry long-term losses. However, to make the strategy work, China needs to sub-contract Western engineering and construction companies with the local networks and track records their Chinese counterparts lack. Sub-contracting adds to the debt burden of Chinese state-owned enterprises and with returns on investment years, if not decades, away could come to haunt Chinas economy.

China’s commercial terms, moreover, fuel mounting anti-Chinese sentiment that threatens China’s geopolitical ambitions. The consequence is that protests puncture China’s string of pearls, a phrase coined by defence consultancy Booz Allen Hamilton in 2004 in a report to US secretary of defense Donald H. Rumsfeld.[xxx] The pearls include beyond the Caucasus, Gwadar and Hambantota, the $10.7 billion development of an industrial city next to the Omani port of Duqm;[xxxi] a $500 million container terminal in the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo; Kyaukpyu in Myanmar; a naval facility in Djibouti, China’s first foreign military base; and a likely port in the Maldives. Separately ten Chinese ports have formed an alliance with six Malaysian harbours.[xxxii]  The string of pearls constitutes the maritime leg of what China inexplicably has identified as the Road leg of One Belt, One Road. The Belt refers to the land-based network of roads, railways and pipelines. The protests and violence in countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka have forced China to provide military assistance, dispatch security forces, and contract private security companies to protect its investments and personnel, adding significantly to the cost of One belt, One Road projects.

Still up for grabs, ports in Bangladesh have emerged as a focal point in the Great Game. Wooed by China, Japan and India and pressured by the United States, Bangladesh, a country strategically tucked into India’s armpit, has blown hot and cold on offers to develop the country’s first deep sea port. Agreements and understandings have been signed only to be cancelled. China has offered to sink $9 billion into Chittagong Port and position it as Gwadar East. As tempting as the offer was, Bangladesh backed away. Instead, to pacify critics, it granted access to Indian cargo vessels.[xxxiii] In the latest twist in the port saga, Bangladesh signed in December 2016 two memoranda of understanding with China Harbour Engineering Company Limited (CHEC) and China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) for the $600 million development of its third most important port in Patuakhali.[xxxiv]

Bangladesh may also be wary of experiencing the volatility that Chinese-backed ports else where are witnessing. Caucasian ports are no less troubled than those in Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Riots in March 2017 in the Georgian pot town of Batumi were sparked by an incident unrelated to Eurasian power plays but were indicative of a degree of volatility that could affect the designs of regional powers. “The socio-political situation is so tense in at least parts of the country that it, in fact, resembles a powder keg ready to explode… It is highly unlikely that the Batumi protests will be the last of their kind,” warned Vasili Rukhadze, an academic and former head of the Georgian Truth Commission.[xxxv]

A decade of setbacks

Almost a decade of Chinese efforts to get the Pakistani port of Gwadar up and running have been stymied by jihadists and Baloch nationalists. Baluch insurgents have in recent years repeatedly targeted gas pipelines, fuel tankers, trains and Chinese personnel.[xxxvi] Investors and Chinese officials travel in Balochistan accompanied by Pakistani military vehicles on roads that are picketed by policemen at 50-metre intervals and cleared of all traffic.

An estimated 46 workers building a road between Gwadar and the Baloch capital of Quetta have been DFDDDDD3killed in recent years.[xxxvii] Chinese hopes suffered a further setback with the expansion of the Islamic State’s (IS) theatre of operations into Pakistan and Afghanistan.  The Baloch capital of Quetta was twice rocked in 2017 by bombings that killed scores of police cadets and judicial personnel. [xxxviii] All in all, Balochistan government officials said the number of attacks on security forces in the region rose dramatically in 2016, 48 compared to approximately 20 in 2015.[xxxix]

Adding to the volatility is Balochistan’s potential to become a launching pad for stepped up US pressure on Iran and a possible return to a policy of regime change. Speaking to the US Senate Armed Services Committee, General Joseph L. Voltel, head of US Central Command, advised that “in order to contain Iranian expansion, roll back its malign influence, and blunt its asymmetric advantages, we must engage them more effectively in the ‘gray zone’ through means that include a strong deterrence posture, targeted counter-messaging activities, and by building partner nations’ capacity. Through both messaging and actions, we must also be clear in our communications and ensure the credibility of U.S. intentions. Iran must believe there will be prohibitive consequences if it chooses to continue its malign activities designed to foment instability in the region… (We) believe that by taking proactive measures and reinforcing our resolve we can lessen Iran’s ability to negatively influence outcomes in the future.,” Voltel said.[xl]

Mega projects in Balochistan, one of Pakistan’s least developed and most troubled regions, have a history of provoking local resistance. The region has witnessed five rebellions in the last 70 years all fuelled by Baloch claims that the federal government in Islamabad had exploited the province’s extensive gas and mineral riches for the benefit of the country’s ruling establishment in Punjab. picketed by policemen at 50-metre intervals and cleared of all traffic.

China is investing $51 billion in Pakistan infrastructure and energy,[xli] including Gwadar port that has been struggling to attract business nine years after it was initially inaugurated. The Pakistan government has deployed 15,000 troops to protect China’s investment, a massive project dubbed the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the flagship of China’s Eurasian One Belt, One Road initiative. The unit created especially to secure CPEC projects is made up of nine army battalions and six civil armed forces wings.[xlii]

Copyright 2016 by the Council on Foreign Relations. Reprinted with permission

Locals in Gwadar dismiss Chinese assertions that the town’s will replicate the success of the Chinese port of Shenzhen. Shenzhen transitioned in a matter of decades from a fishing village into an industrial urban centre. Shenzhen, unlike Gwadar which is 650 kilometres from Karachi, the nearest city, was able to piggyback on Hong Kong, located just next door, with a GDP multiple times larger than that of all of Pakistan. “The local population have been made prisoners in their own town,” said a frequent traveller to Gwadar.[xliii] Hostility has been reinforced by hard-handed military tactics to squash the insurgency.

Intimidation of the local population by the insurgents aggravates the situation. Only four percent of eligible voters in Balochistan turned out for a by-election in December 2015 after rebels threatened violence and attacked candidates.[xliv] The sense of incarceration and alienation is likely to increase with the building of a security fence around the town and entry points that will grant access only to those in possession of a residency pass.[xlv]

Chinese, Pakistani and Russian officials warned in December 2016 that militant groups in Afghanistan, including the Islamic State (IS) were expanding their operations. IS in cooperation with the Pakistani Taliban launched two months later a wave of attacks that has targeted government, law enforcement, the military and minorities and killed hundreds.[xlvi]

Indian Prime Minister Mahindra Modi added to the tension by charging in an Independence Day speech that Pakistan would “have to answer to the world for the atrocities committed by it against people in Baluchistan.”[xlvii] Modi’s remarks broke with India’s long-standing avoidance of public association with Balochistan’s troubles, prompting fears in China that its problems in Pakistan were about to multiply. Statements by Pakistani intelligence in the military said several months later that surrendering Baloch insurgents had asserted that they were funded by Indian intelligence.[xlviii]

The “policy of indifference towards Pakistan’s war crimes in occupied Balochistan that include both ethnic cleansing and genocide, adapted by the international community is worrying. The Indian Prime Minister’s statement on Balochistan is a positive development. (The) Baloch nation hopes that the United States and Europe will join Prime Minister Modi and hold Pakistan accountable for the crimes against humanity and the war crimes it has committed against the Baloch nation in 68 years of its occupation of Balochistan and during the five wars that the Baloch nation has fought with Pakistan to win its national freedom,” said Khalil Baloch, chairman of the Baloch National Movement.[xlix]

Modi’s remarks were all the more significant given Gwadar’s strategic importance to Chinese energy security. Once fully operational Gwadar would be the key node in a land-see energy supply line from the Gulf to China that would circumvent India as well as the South China Sea. Gwadar is a mere 380 kilometres from the Strait of Hormuz at the southern tip of the Gulf and Oman, which governed the port until 1958. Gwadar would shorten the roughly 12,000-kilometre sea route from the Gulf to China’s eastern seaboard to a mere 2,395 kilometres with a pipeline ending in Xinjiang’s Kashgar, one of the busiest bazaars on the ancient Silk Road. Literally translated as New Frontier, Xinjiang is a resource-rich, militarily crucial but troubled province in northwest China that is home to the Uyghurs, a restive Turkic Muslims.[l] China sees economic development as the key to squashing the Uyghur’s nationalist aspirations.

Source: The Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI)

As China moved to gradually expand the scope of its military and private security operations in Central and South Asia, IS followed up its wave of attacks in Balochistan with a 30-minute video that denounced “evil Chinese communist infidel lackeys” and promised to “shed blood like rivers” in attacks on Chinese ones. Filmed in Iraq by IS’s Al-Furat Province, the video featured Uyghur fighters and their heavily armed children who appeared to hail from Xinjiang. Offering a stylized view of Uighur life in the caliphate, the video showed scenes of their battles and prayers as well as the execution of alleged informants. The group’s threat against China was issued by a fighter as he prepared to put to death a suspected informant.[li]

Overlooked by most analysts, Australian scholar Michael Clarke pointed out that the video also suggested that IS at a time that it was on the defensive in Syria and Iraq was seeking to become the dominant jihadist player in Xinjiang and among Uyghurs. A militant in the video denounced the Al Qaeda-affiliated Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP), the hitherto foremost Uyghur group, as apostates and called on its members to defect to IS. TIP has roots in Afghanistan and has had a presence in Syria since 2012.[lii]

Release of the video coincided with a rally in Xinjiang of thousands of armed riot police backed by armoured vehicles and helicopters intended to demonstrate their resolve to crush nationalist and Islamist militants.[liii] China has cracked down on religious practice in the region as part of its campaign against the militants.[liv] The video featured images of Chinese riot police guarding mosques, patrolling Uygur markets, and making arrests. It showed the Chinese flag engulfed in flames. Chinese authorities have offered rewards of up to 100 million yuan ($14.5 million) for tips of militant Uyghur activity.[lv]

China concerns were already bolstered when IS identified East Turkistan as one of its target areas. The group’s caliph, Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi, listed the People’s Republic at the top of his list of countries like the United States and Israel that violate Muslim rights in his 2014 declaration of the caliphate.[lvi] Maps circulating at the time on Twitter purporting to highlight IS’s expansion plans included substantial parts of Xinjiang.

IS’s pivot eastward threatened not only Chinese policies in Xinjiang but also the land pillar of China’s proposed Silk Road in Central Asia and the Middle East. It put Chinese operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan in the bull’s eye. Uyghurs were among the militants who attacked the Chinese embassy in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan in August 2016, and several months later on New Year’s Eve a  nightclub in Istanbul.[lvii]

A survey of Uyghur IS fighters has suggested that lack of opportunity in Xinjiang was a key driver of militancy. Of 114 fighters surveyed by New America, a Washington-based think tank, none had enjoyed a university education, only two had been professional employed, and a majority had not travelled abroad before joining IS. The survey suggested that the fighters were primarily unskilled workers from rural areas of Xinjiang and that they had not been associated with militant or jihadist Uyghur groups prior to joining IS.[lviii]

Read on in Part 3 below

[i] Micha’el Tanchum, A Post-Sanctions Iran and the Eurasian Energy Architecture, Challenges and Opportunities for the Euro-Atlantic Community, Atlantic Council, September 2015,
[ii] Karl Mathiesen and Megan Darby, Saudis make Maldives land grab to secure oil routes to China, ClimateHome, 5 March 2017,
[iii] Ahmed Naish, No cause for concern over ‘US$10bn Faafu atoll project,’ insists Yameen, Maldives Independent, 1 March 2017,
[iv] Hassan Moosa and Geeta Ananad, Inhabitants of Maldives Atoll Fear a Flood of Saudi Money, The New York Times, 26 March 2017,
[v] Ahmed Naish, “China-Maldives Friendship Bridge” project launched, Maldives Independent, 31 December 2015,
[vi] Maldives Independent, Saudi Binladin Group awarded Maldives airport terminal project, 22 May 2016,
[vii] Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury, Chinese company bags Maldivian island on 50-year lease, The Economic Times, 30 December 2016,
[viii] Xinhua, China willing to advance military relations with Saudi Arabia: Defense Minister, 31 August 2016,
[ix] Middle East Eye, China's Saudi drone factory compensates for US ban, 29 March 2017,
[x] Hassan Mohamed, Maldives parliament to form joint committees with Saudi Arabia’s Shura Council, Maldives Independent, 5 January 2016,
[xi] Yeni Safak, Turkish company to build Maldives' largest mosque, 30 March 2017,
[xii] Avas Online, Saudi's cash 'gift' to Maldives journos sparks concern, February 2017,
[xiii] Shihar Aneez, Maldives severs diplomatic ties with Iran citing security threats, 18 May 2016, Reuters,
[xiv] Hassan Mohamed, Maldives court sentences woman to death by stoning Maldives Independent, 18 October 2015,
[xv] Interview with author, 12 February 2017
[xvi] The Soufan Group, Foreign Fighters, An Updated Assessment of the Flow of Foreign Fighters into Syria and Iraq, December 2015,
[xvii] Shantanu Mukharji, Saudi Arabia eyes Maldives atoll to build SEZ: Why India is concerned about this development, Firstpost, 6 March 2017,
[xviii] Minivan News, Protesters march with IS flag calling for enforcement of Islamic Shariah, 6 September 2014,
[xix] Moign Khawaja, Gwadar: An unfulfilled dream, The Express Tribune, 27 February 2011,
[xx] Agence France Presse, Clashes erupt as Sri Lankans protest China port deal, 7 January 2017,
[xxi] India Ink, Exclusive: Ambassador Husain Haqqani talks to India Ink, March 2017,
[xxii] Roman Kozhevnikov Bustonkala, Tajik land deal extends China's reach in Central Asia, Reuters, 25 March 2011, / Bruce Pannier, Tajikistan Agrees To Allow Chinese Farmers To Till Land, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 28 January 2011,
[xxiii] Paolo Sorbello, Uzbekistan puts a smile on economic blow to Turkmenistan, The Diplomat, April 2017,
[xxiv] Embassy of Sri Lanka Washington DC, Inaugural United States – Sri Lanka Partnership Dialogue Conveyed in Washington, 29 February 2016,
[xxv] US Embassy in Sri Lanka, Remarks by U.S. Ambassador Atul Keshap at Reception on board USS Blue Ridge, 28 March 2016,
[xxvi] US Pacific Command, Operation Pacific Angel Concludes in Sri Lanka, 23 August 2016,
[xxvii] US Embassy in Sri Lanka, Advanced U.S. Maritime Patrol Aircraft Visits Sri Lanka, 11 December 2016,
[xxviii] Michael Useem, Harbir Singh, Liang Neng and Peter Cappelli, Fortune Makers: The Leaders Creating China's Great Global Companies, New York: Public Affairs, 2017, Kindle edition
[xxix] Interviews with four consultants, 14 February 2017
[xxx] Juli A MacDonald, Amy Donahue and Bethany Danyluk, Energy Futures in Asia – Final Report, Washington DC: Booz Allen Hamilton, 2004
[xxxi] Micahel Fahy, China’s investment in $10.7bn city in Oman to provide building boost, The National, 20 August 2016,
[xxxii] Amy Chew, China, Malaysia tout new ‘port alliance’ to reduce customs bottlenecks and boost trade, South China Morning Post, 9 April 2016,
[xxxiii] Ankit Panda, India Plucks a Pearl from China's 'String' in Bangladesh?, The Diplomat, 7 June 2015,
[xxxiv] Shohel Mamun, Bangladesh signs MoU with China on Payra Deep-sea Port construction, Dhaka Tribune, 9 December 2016,
[xxxv] Vasili Rukhadze, Georgia’s Seaport City of Batumi Erupts in Violence, The Jamestown Foundation, 15 March 2017,
[xxxvi] Agence France Presse, Baloch ire prompts security fears for China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, 21 April 2015,
[xxxvii] Saeed Shah, Chinese-Pakistani Project Tries to Overcome Jihadists, Droughts and Doubts, The Wall Street Journal, 10 April 2016,
[xxxviii] James M. Dorsey, Fighting Militants in Pakistan: Who Is In Charge?, RSIS Commentary, 2 November 2016,
[xxxix] Interview with the author, 2 February 2017
[xl] Joseph L. Voltel, Statement By General Joseph L. Voltel on the posture of U.S. Central Command, 9 March 2017,
[xli] James M. Dorsey, China and the Middle East: Venturing into the Maelstrom, RSIS Working Paper, 18 March 2016,
[xlii] Baqir Sajjad Syed, COAS vows to meet CPEC projects' security challenges, Dawn, 12 March 2017,
[xliii] Interview with the author, 10 January 2017
[xliv] Balochwarna News, Balochistan: Pakistani military operation continue ahead of by-elections in Kech, 20 December 2015,
[xlv] Ibid. Shah
[xlvi] James M. Dorsey, Challenging the state- Pakistani militants form deadly alliance, The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer, 17 February 2017,
[xlvii] FE Online, This is the speech by PM Modi on Kashmir, PoK and Balochistan that has left Pakistan fuming, 13 August 2016,
[xlviii] The Tribune Express, 20 Baloch insurgents surrender, confess receiving RAW funding: ISPR, 21 March 2017,
[xlix] Ibid. The Indian Express
[l] Micha’el Tanchum, A Post-Sanctions Iran and the Eurasian Energy Architecture, Atlantic Council, September 2015,
[li] Site Intelligence Group, IS Video Highlights Uyghur Fighters and Children, training Camps in Western Iraq, 27 February 2017,
[liii] Michael Martina, China holds mass police rally in Xinjiang as hundreds sent to anti-terror 'frontline,' Reuters, 28 February 2017,
[liv] Amnesty International, China 2016/17, Amnesty International Annual Report 2016/17,
[lv] Michael Martina, China offers big anti-terror rewards in Xinjiang, Reuters, 22 February 2017,
[lvi] Abu Bakr Al-Husayni Al-Baghdadi (4 July 2014). A Message to the Mujahidin and the Ummah in the Month of Ramadan, Al Hayat Media Center,
[lvii] Raffaelo Pantucci, Isil's attack in Istanbul is a turning point – and more violence could follow, The Daily Telegraph, 2 January 2017,
[lviii] Nate Rosenblatt, All Jihad is Local, What ISIS’ Files Tell Us About Its Fighters, New America, July 2016,


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