SWOT of Turkmenistan

Mihail Păduraru

Turkmenistan, which has the fourth largest proven gas reserves in the world and produces about 70-80 billion cubic meters of gas a year, is actively implementing an energy strategy aimed at increasing exports of the blue fuel and diversifying its supply routes to the largest global markets, where the demand for energy resources is growing.
According to international agencies[1], Galkynysh field has the largest gas reserves, it holds 21 trillion 200 billion cubic meters of gas, which places it as one of the most significant gas fields in the world.
Europeans make all possible efforts to develop alternative routes, such as the Trans-Anatolian, Trans-Adriatic and Trans-Caspian pipelines, that could carry natural gas from Turkmenistan to Europe.
Oppressive government system and a state-controlled and rigid market economy
Security forces of Turkmenistan are accustomed to deal with an obedient population, kept under the regime control, for more than two decades.
They do not dare to oppose the Government.
But it is unclear how Turkmen security forces would react to confrontation with a well defined, trained and armed group, focused on causing chaos.
It is also unclear what support could the government expect from Turkmen citizens, including the young military recruits, if militants will appear in Turkmenistan.
Turkmenistan, a neutral nation recognized by the United Nations, has no defense agreements with other countries.
If it is attacked, or faced challenges before a domestic enemy, there is no one that Ashgabat can sue, for immediate help.
What would be the reaction from neighbors like Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan or Iran?
Or from Russia ? – with its historical interest in Turkmenistan….
Gas industry of Turkmenistan has increased significantly in last years by the upgrading of its technologies and infrastructure, and as a result, each year has witnessed a constant volume growth of natural and liquefied gas product.
There are also plans to increase production to 230 billion of cubic meters by 2030 and explore new gas fields.
Recent efforts by Berdimuhamedov to open Turkmenistan’s economy to outside investment will help the country break its dependence on Russia.
Russia has restricted the access of the US oil and gas companies to ​​Central Asia region, trough an energy monopoly, various contracts obtained in the area being financially unprofitable.
In some cases, Russian companies are buying overpriced hydrocarbon resources.
Through these movements, Russia secured its economic and energy security, at global and regional level.
Russia’s alliances with countries such as Iran, China, Pakistan, India, Turkmenistan, Venezuela, are going to change the balance of power between East and West, especially in the field of energy security !
These actions, being a strategic response for undeclared actions of the US and NATO, to military encircling Russia, and increasing its global isolation.


The overall level of security and stability appears to be eroded quickly in Afghanistan as a result of increasing Islamic State and Taliban activity.
It is known about the ability of the Taliban and Islamic State to expand their insurgency in regions that were previously pacified.
Also the ability of Taliban to operate freely along the border routes, which allows them, to transport their high-caliber weapons and missiles with trucks.
We could easily predict an increase of political and military Taliban activism, along Afghanistan borders, within near future.[2]

The likelihood of armed confrontation, the emergence of international terrorism, organized crime and various types of economic risks, define the main threats to the Azerbaijan security,  an expert on intelligence from Azerbaijan concluded[3] in his work.
These issues have ceased to be country-level problems and have acquired a more global character.
Globalization processes in the modern world, dependence on interaction and international cooperation, continuous transparency, have different variables influences over the general security system of a country.
Turkmenistan is sitting on the world’s fourth-largest reserves of natural gas and substantial oil resources.[4]
It is situated in a geo-strategically significant location between Iran, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and the Caspian Sea.
Because it is reclusive and neutral, Turkmenistan is not much of a player on the global scene, it could be vulnerable to changes in the region.
Furthermore, as Turkmenistan seeks to diversify its export markets for natural gas, it will, on the one hand, be in a strong position to court its suitors, yet on the other hand, it may be forced, to open itself up in order to attract them.
The international dimension of the fight against terrorism has become a paramount importance, both in terms of cooperative efforts and political support, but especially in  the harmonization and joint struggle,of all responsible elements in counter-terrorism.
The focus will increasingly shift in the future, from political risks to non-military ones, terrorism, associated with organised crime, will constitute the major risks.
Also internal vulnerabilities, as well as contingencies, will acquire a much bigger weight, in development probability from Risk to Threat.
Modern days conditions, allow us to note, that the extension of extremist organizations activities represents a threat to the safety of several states.
Both, society and the State are victims, and, at the same time, risks generators.
Cross-border nature of risks makes them hard to classify and control within national strategies.
The multiplication and diversification of risks, the asymmetric character of them, determines the development of new policies, doctrines and strategies, for countering them, and simultaneous adopting of appropriate solutions and methods of collective action.
The most appropriate choice for Turkmenistan would be to participate in international co-operation with Western countries for risk mitigation and to strengthen national and regional security, also to open borders to a functioning market economy and to adopt a governing system adapted to the present time.

[1] Bucharest 2013;Intelligence in the Knowledge Society;Sultan MALIKOV-The Activity of the Special Services of the Republic of Azerbaijanon the Counteraction to the Youth Recruitment into the Religious Extremist Organizations; pg 217-224

[4]RRSI nr.12/dec 2014-Florin DIACONU- Afghanistan: some perennial major trends and clearly worrisome; pg 27-52

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