EurasiaNet on the Year Ahead

by Nathan Hamm on 1/4/2006 · 7 comments

EurasiaNet has two stories with predictions for politics in Central Asia in the new year. (As usual with EurasiaNet, I found them by the grace of God through Google News as it’s the most convenient, but by no means most reliable, way to keep track of their content.)

In the first, Stephen Blank says that Russia will try to build a new security system in Central Asia. One of Russia’s goals is to make the CSTO the go-between for NATO relations with the region, something that neither NATO nor regional governments save, as a sign of its disillusionment with the West, Uzbekistan is likely to accept.

In sum, Blank says of Russia’s plans,

Taken collectively, Russia’s moves signify a further militarization of the geopolitical rivalry in Central Asia. Russian planners appear to believe that Moscow can and must challenge the West, even if that means displays of force. In addition, Russian policies would seem to enhance the likelihood that domestic and possibly foreign forces might someday be used against domestic insurgencies in a Central Asian state.

The other article argues that uncertainty’s reign will likely continue in Kyrgyzstan this year. In a sign of the public’s disillusionment with Bakiev, a political scientist quoted in the story says that the Kyrgyz “just hope that the Bakiyev family will steal less [than the Akaev’s].”

On the foreign policy front, the article says that local opinion holds that the US base at Manas will not be going anywhere this year.

Local analysts believe it is highly unlikely that Bakiyev will ask the Americans to leave. According to a report recently broadcast by the Independent Bishkek television channel, the income generated by the American base leasing arrangement totals $200 million, or roughly 10 percent of Kyrgyzstan’s GDP. “For this reason, the Americans can be sure that nobody is going to throw them out of Kyrgyzstan anytime soon,” the television commentary said.

Perhaps we should increase our payments. It only makes it more painful to send us packing.

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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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Sean-Paul Kelley January 5, 2006 at 9:02 am

I remember someone I know very well making similar predictions about Kyrgyzstan here.

Laurence January 5, 2006 at 9:17 am

Sean-Paul, Do you know if Blank cited your article? Do you think he read it? Anyhow, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery…

Nathan January 5, 2006 at 11:59 am

Laurence, the Kyrgyzstan article was actually written by Nicholas Schmidle. I’m less than floored by it actually, but was too pressed for time to get into the details when I wrote the post.

Kuda January 6, 2006 at 3:06 am

Hardly the most revelational stuff. Big surprise the new family resembles the old, Kyrgyzstan is in a tight spot, the government want more cash for the base, The US are holding out on this. It would be nice to be able to read some decent journalism on the future of Kyrgyzstan, or about the new family, or the shadowy people in the background or something insightful concerning Kyrgyzstan’s future.

Sean-Paul Kelley January 6, 2006 at 7:59 am

I don’t think he cited the article and I can’t think of any reasons why they would. Seriously, what I wasn pointing out was there for all to see. You probably knew it and I am sure Nathan did. I just gave voice to it. I’m thinking about revisiting Kyrgyzstan in a newer piece sometime in the next couple of weeks. I’ll keep you posted. But I’m with Kuda here, it’s hardly revelational. Still, nice to know I could see it, which means that education I paid for and trip to Central Asia is paying off in some sense at least! 😉

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