The Times - September 11, 2004

By Iain Finlayson

The war in Iraq, says Kleveman in his account of Blood and Oil in Central Asia, is 'but a foretaste of future energy wars over the world's remaining gas and oil reserves'. He does not doubt that America's involvement is a bid for 'control over the earth's remaining fossil reserves'. A crisis area is the Caspian Sea, rich in untapped gas and oil. Whether it is to be legally defined as a lake or a sea is crucial to the littoral states - Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Iran and Azerbaijan - that argue about its territorial division. The author, who has travelled the area and talked to the main players, analyses the vast resources being pumped into an unstable, violent region and how the internal military, political and industrial pressures of the Caspian are about to go fissile. His report is at its most unsettling when local warlords and magnates, fuelled with vodka, open up to him. At some risk to his life, he has doggedly reported on the new Klondyke.



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