Newsistan Long ago, before Stalin

by Nathan Hamm on 12/27/2003


Long ago, before Stalin chopped up the region, Central Asia could truly be thought of as a region. Unfortunately, this is becoming increasingly untrue
as the five states of Soviet Central Asia have taken independent
courses. Much of this is due to the personalities calling the shots in
each country and their unwillingness to see the benefits of cooperation
and integration.
As part of its efforts to become a major power on the world’s stage,
India is launching a 20-year initiative
that will leave it able to project military power in the Indian Ocean,
Persian Gulf, and across all of Asia. A major part of this initiative
is increasing defense cooperation with Uzbekistan, Kazakstan, and
Tajikistan (that’s a nice little hike along the Chinese and Russian
borders…), missile defense, a convential arms build-up, and beefing
up its defense industry to give it the ability become a major arms
exporter and to counter its weakness relative the Chinese. I think I’ve
mentioned it before, and it’s worth saying again, now would be a
fabulous time to become good friends with India.
Meanwhile, Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee says that he will go to Islamabad
for the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation summit despite
concerns that he may be a target for assassination. His security
officials seem to feel very strongly that he should stay away from the conference.

President Burjanadze has met with Putin
to discuss the issues causing tension between Russia and Georgia. It
would be nice if they got somewhere, because talks between Tbilisi and
its separatist regions have broken down.
By the way, Burjanadze gets props for quote of the week: “I do not
speak sharply because I am an evil person, but because I believe
problems should be debated openly,” when referring to her cutting
remarks about Russia.
A look at Swiss development assistance
to Central Asia. I don’t have much to say about this except that all
but two of the Red Cross workers I met in Uzbekistan were utter and
complete assholes who looked down their upturned French and Italian
noses at Americans working in the country (the two cool ones were
German speaking Swiss, and come to think of it, oddly, I never met a
German in Uzbekistan that I didn’t like).
Central Asia’s gas pipeline that supplies Europe is working again after an explosion put it out of commission in Western Kazakstan.

Russian troops guarding Tajikistan’s border with Afghanistan have seized over 2,700 kg of drugs this year.

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– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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