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Kazakhstan is huge, and hugely important on the international scene, yet we rarely hear about it. In terms of land mass, Kazakhstan is a massive country – the ninth largest in the world. It is also one of the largest producers of wheat, featuring in the top ten list of nations for that distinction.
It’s wheat-production capacity places it at the center of a Central Asian triumvirate that is critical for maintaining the stability of the global food market. According to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (and as highlighted in a recent piece on Al Jazeera), Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine alone have the capacity to meet “half of the world’s grain export needs.” (more…)
The Central Asian region is of critical strategic importance to the United States and its NATO allies. That is why, on top of environmental and humanitarian concerns associated with the phenomenon, rapid glacial melt in the region should be a top concern for national security planners and practitioners. (more…)
The national Drought Monitor recently declared a drought for almost 80% of the contiguous United States, ranging in intensity from “abnormally dry” to “drought-exceptional.” Five days ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture followed by declaring disasters in 26 U.S. states. This is the largest national disaster area ever declared. But while the drought is obviously a serious concern for the U.S. (historically, droughts are the nation’s most costly natural disaster), it also has worrying implications for other countries that are tied to the U.S. through the global food market. Coupled with other recent extreme weather events across the globe, the U.S. drought could have a globally destabilizing influence. And while it is too early to tell exactly why these events are happening, in the way that they are happening, recent reports show that climatic changes are a part of the story. (more…)