This week The Century Foundation published a white paper I wrote for them, “Post-Soviet Central Asian National Interests in Afghanistan.” It is a fairly wide-ranging discussion of the pitfalls and opportunities of incorporating the Central Asian states into some sort of regional process for settling out the war in Afghanistan.
The war in Afghanistan poses two primary security challenges: narcotics trafficking and, to a lesser extent, Islamist extremist groups. However, these countries also have other goals, such as rent extraction from the United states and NATO countries seeking access to bases and transportation infrastructure, and broader economic goals relating to energy exports. These concerns factor into how each country perceives the war…
But if the challenges facing Central Asia are not immediate, the opportunities are. In particular the NDN, beyond any American designs for leveraging its influence regionally, presents a tremendous opportunity for the development of international trade. Additionally, the nascent steps taken in electricity sharing between Uzbekistan and Afghanistan hold out hope that those relations could be used to ameliorate some of the troubling power and water conflicts with Tajikistan. Additionally, if the countries of Central Asia are integrated more tightly into regional deliberations about Afghanistan’s future, their governments will become more active partners in the process.
It goes on, for pages and pages and pages. I’d appreciate hearing feedback.