needs cooperation to survive terrorism
19, 2009, Viktoriya
situation in Central Asia has been heating up, fueled by intense terrorist activities in Afghanistan, increased drug trafficking and domestic turmoil.
Asia's peaceful coexistence depend on the
answers to the following to questions: What has happened due to the
complication of the regional situation? And who will solve the problems of the
Central Asian states?
The first factor
complicating the situation in Central Asia is intensified terrorist activity in Afghanistan. Three of the five Central Asian states border Afghanistan.
Two countries - Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan - are subjected to the greatest danger of succumbing to radical
Islamic groups from Afghanistan. The threat for Tajikistan is rooted in the long length of the border with Afghanistan, which is difficult to patrol and protect.
Kyrgyzstan's threat is the outside world's ability to influence the
defenseless state due to the low standard of living in the country and its weak
Afghanistan's influence can be shown in different ways, starting from
organizing terrorist acts to simply spreading radical teachings among the
Central Asian states bordering Afghanistan are subjected to agitation, and most of them are uneducated and
live on the brink of poverty, which makes the susceptible to such influence.
Another threat from Afghanistan is increasing drug trafficking.
The borders of Tajikistan are not sufficiently protected from the penetration of drug
traffickers and their moving into the region. Uzbekistan, despite its common border with Afghanistan, is less subjected to these threats as it is better equipped in the
military and technical sphere.
factors, there are also domestic factors negatively influencing Central Asia. They include
relationships between regional states. Uzbekistan has the most complex relations with its neighbors Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Sometimes it seems they are just a step away from a war.
The apple of
discord here is water and electricity. These countries cannot divide their
water resources. Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan prefer to use the water for energy. But this counters the interests
of Tashkent. Uzbekistan just needs water. According to the government, water resources will
be fewer after the construction of hydropower stations in neighboring
President Emomali Rakhmonov
accused his Uzbek counterpart Islam Karimov of
infringing the rights of Tajiks in Uzbekistan. He promised to seize Samarkand and Bukhara, and
even mentioned fights that allegedly took place between the presidents of
the two countries.
Kazakhstan is the largest country in the region. It competes with Uzbekistan, not for water, but for regional supremacy. Turkmenistan simply declared neutrality and prefers to watch the scene from the
several organizations, in particular the Organization of Collective Security
Treaty Organization (CSTO), unites these countries.
the CSTO includes military cooperation between organization participants. But
how is this possible in practice?
includes four of the five Central Asian states: Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. There is no agreement between them. Then what is the purpose of an
organization where an internal conflict can occur any moment?
Central Asian governments follow their own national interests, they will not
allow relations with their neighbors to deteriorate. For example, if one
imagines a conflict between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, Tashkent, despite its serious military advantage, would lose, because by
weakening Dushanbe, Afghan terror would gain a stronghold in the country.
Rapid Reaction Force (RRF) demonstrates the poor effectiveness of the CSTO as
an organization. Uzbekistan initially refused to participate in the group, although the RRF is
a major CSTO project.
The only thing
that can really give fruit in the current situation is combining the efforts of
the countries of the region to confront terrorism, as well as solving the
domestic problems that hamper the development of Central Asia.
They should at
least be able to find common ground over the distribution of water and electric
power in Central Asia. They will fail to solve this problem without creating commissions
and expert groups to study the problem.
It is necessary
to create a unified system of protection to reduce threats from neighboring Afghanistan. It can operate not only with the participation of Central Asian
states, but also use the support of other countries interested in such a
system. In its turn, it will assist in solving the drug trafficking problem.
One should hope that someday the Central Asian states will find joint solutions
to regional problems.