Breaking Down Uzbekistan’s CSTO Departure

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by Nathan Hamm on 7/17/2012 · 1 comment

Those who have had the pleasure to work with me know that I have a colorful catchphrase about the interconnectedness of all things. I bring this up to make a variety of points about how to write arguments about complex social, political, and economic processes. One of these points is that apparent connections between events still need to be supported with strong evidence or reasoning.

Last week, I observed that the Russian language media was falling all over itself lamenting what it presented as connected signs of a grave strategic setback for Russia in Central Asia. The first was the departure of Uzbekistan from the CSTO. Initially, little was made of this, but worrying over its implications increased when news of Tajikistan’s difficulty over base negotiations with Russia emerged and media reported some cloud talk from a US Congressman visiting Dushanbe about Tajikistan being a good place for a transit center. A narrative based on stereotypes of great power rivalry, the passivity of Central Asian governments in foreign policy making, and the inconsistency and unpredictability of the Uzbeks emerged on the lips of many Russian and several American commentators who argued that Uzbekistan’s move (and maybe Tajikistan’s) had to do with US negotiations for a base in connection with post-2014 plans for Afghanistan.

However, the case that Uzbekistan’s withdrawal from the CSTO has to do with US-Russia competition for influence in Central Asia discounts more immediate causes that have to do with Russia’s renewed push for Eurasian integration. Over at e-IR, I argue that Uzbekistan’s withdrawal from the CSTO tells us more about the prospects for Putin’s goals for Eurasian integration than it does about the future role of the US in Central Asia.

Go check it out and leave a comment.

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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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{ 1 comment }

Noah July 18, 2012 at 7:23 am

That was a wicked inside joke. And that phrase remains one your most precious legacies, too bad you can’t share it on the internet.

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