Great Game in Central Asia After Afghanistan
Image Credit: Wikicommons

Great Game in Central Asia After Afghanistan


As the U.S. and coalition forces prepare to withdraw their troops from Afghanistan, with all combat forces out by the end of 2014, the governments of Central Asia are bracing for a possible spillover of instability from their south. Ostensibly to help Central Asian countries protect themselves against the Islamist radicals that may gain strength in post-2014 Afghanistan, the U.S. and Russia are both offering military aid programs to the region's governments. Their rival efforts, though, carry with them possible unintended consequence of exacerbating tensions between Central Asian countries.

Russia has been building up the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a security bloc made up of ex-Soviet states. The organization has promised to take on a variety of security missions in the ex-Soviet space, from cybersecurity and counternarcotics to preventing “Arab Spring”-type revolutions. But more than anything, Russia has promoted the group as a means of bolstering security in Central Asia as a bulwark against Islamist extremists in Afghanistan who may set their sights on Central Asia.

Last year, under the auspices of the CSTO, Russia offered a massive $1.1 billion military aid package to Kyrgyzstan, and another $200 million in assistance for Tajikistan. The aid to Kyrgyzstan will reportedly include armored vehicles, artillery and portable surface-to-air missiles, while Tajikistan is slated to get air defense upgrades and repairs to their current equipment. In the last six months, Russia also renegotiated leases for military bases it operates in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, solidifying its position in those countries.

Meanwhile, neighboring Uzbekistan has been the America's key partner among the ex-Soviet states in its Afghanistan campaign. A large percentage of U.S. military cargo going to Afghanistan passes through Uzbekistan, which has acted as a critical strategic hedge against the volatility of relations with Pakistan. In late 2011, after a NATO incursion from Afghanistan into Pakistan killed several Pakistani soldiers, Islamabad closed its border to Afghanistan for Western military transit, and the supply route through Uzbekistan played a crucial role in ensuring uninterrupted shipments of U.S. troops and materials.

Uzbekistan has seized this opportunity to build closer military ties with the U.S. The country's president, Islam Karimov, has told American officials that he wants to remake his military, replacing its legacy Russian gear with entirely American equipment. In late 2011 the White House loosened restrictions on military aid to Uzbekistan that had been in place for nearly a decade due to human rights concerns, and so far the U.S. has agreed to supply Uzbekistan with “non-lethal” military equipment including night-vision goggles, global positioning systems (GPS) gear and small surveillance drones. And as the U.S. draws down in Afghanistan, it has promised to leave some of its gear behind in Central Asia; Karimov reportedly has expressed interest in heavier equipment, like helicopters and mine-resistant armored vehicles.

While military aid to Uzbekistan is controversial in the U.S. because of Uzbekistan's terrible record of repressing its own people, there are also concerns that aid could upset the balance of power in a region full of mutual mistrust. Uzbekistan is the largest country in the region and during the Soviet era played a leading role in Central Asia. For a variety of reasons, Uzbekistan's neighbors mistrust them. Kazakhstan sees it as a rival for regional dominance, while smaller Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan fear its bullying. Uzbekistan is virtually the only transportation outlet to the world for remote Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan has wielded that power aggressively, repeatedly cutting off rail traffic to and from Tajikistan when Tajikistan acts in a way that displeases Tashkent.

Kaiser Hameed Khan
October 3, 2013 at 03:23

@  Kanes,

I am surprised at how you conclude that Afghan centered terrorism was directed at the West.Was any nuclear , Biological or Chemical weapon found in Afghanistan? was any of the attackers on 9/11 from Afghanistan?OR did Afghamistan have any weapon capable of striking the west?  Are the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan not Islamists?Why are you making a fool of yourself ? The entire ISAF and NATO forces could not fight corruption in Afghanistan what to talk of the Taliban!!!

By the way who was the actual enemy? the Al Qaida or the Taliban? The world has spent billions in Afghanistan, ultimately to withdraw and negociate with the taliban! They say history repeats itself and correctly in Afghanistan, after the defeat of Alexander, the British , the Soviets, the Allied forces are now forced to withdraw without completing their mission or achieving their Aim and with a bloody nose or if you like a black eye!!

In this remote part of the world we look at the issue as an incorrect perception of the west which has resulted into its failure and if the perception is not corrected, like the historic  rise and fall of  the super powers of the past, the west might  also drift into an abyess and become  a lesson of history. Islam has been around for a thousand and a half years, why suddenly have Muslims  been branded as Islamist terrorists, This is food for thought and  will clear the mist surrounding Afghanistan and the so called Islamists

Michael Guy
April 1, 2013 at 07:30

"The borrower is the servant to the lender", Loans including those made because of national debts, are made with terms, conditions and pledges of goods or services as collateral favorable to the lender.  as Simon de Monteforte siad at Runnymede,"He who controls the purse strings is the true king"

   Americas duplicitous and perfidious "allies" are alos its makor national debt creditors.  The Sunni sheiks of Saudi arabia, Qatar and Bahrain demand we support their terrorist, assassins  such as those in the Muslim Brotherhood , Pakistan, Afghanistan and Egypt.

The Chinese lend back a portion of their free trrade profits under the condition we continue WTO free trade, eliminate competitive industries using the EPA and enviromental  regulations.

 The Zionist financiers and bankers of Wall Street ,the Fed, IMF, World Bank, Goldman Sachs and its subsidiary-The US Treasury are acting just like the Fuggers and Medicis of the Holy Roman Empire.  Loaning  money to governments for wars so that the citizens of the monarch become the serfs to these bankers, perpetually paying tax money to these lenders.

   So while Europe and america act like subservient vassals and Janissaries for these bankers and sheiks,  Russia and China, led by nationalist and patriots, are preparing an ageof empire that will exceed Peter The Great and Kublai Kahn. China and Russia are not beholding to the oil sheiks and do not have to maintain the pretense that the Taliban and AlQeda  terrorist rife within Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt, the Syrian rebels and the Muslim Brotherhood are anything less than threats to be eradicated. Even china was able to negotiate a submarine port, with capability to attack the US 7th  fleet, especially if it gets caught off the coast of Iran.  China is building a nuclear power plant in Pakistan.  But they can do this because everyone knows the consequence of crossing China or Russia is the equivalent of crossing Ghenghis Kahn.  Unlike the West, China and Russia are led by nationalist patriots who strive to advance the power of their individual nations and the prosperity of their own citizens.  They have no EU, UN bureaucrats, no creditor sheiks, nor international banking consortiums to appease.  China and Russia will divide Asia and much of the globe, into speres of influences the way the European colonialist did to Africa.

March 28, 2013 at 17:10

CTSO has never undergone a single military mission. Critical members of CTSO, Uzbekistan, are constantly in and out of the organization, undermining the very foundation that such an organization could function in Central Asia. Re: Russian military aid – are you suggesting that the Tajiks and Kyrgyz are going to use air defense systems against fighters from Northern Afghanistan? No. This is not about Afghanistan or CTSO (anymore than it was before the American invasion). It's about continuing to lock in state of the FSU in Central Asia into military equipment that will require them to keep buying from RF. Furthermore, for all the stability of Tajikistan in the 1990s and Kyrgystan in the 2000s, about one iota of it has come from people who could VAGUELY, VAGUELY be linked to Afghanistan (think IMU in N Afghanistan). Most has been internal political instability. Any concerns about security in the region will continue to primarily be focused on internal political insecurity, particularly in the small Central Asian Republics. Finally, it has literally been years of people theorizing that the US is going to turn over some massive military package to Uzbekistan and no one has done it. If you have proof, produce proof, otherwise its speculation, not news. What Krauss said, rubbish.

March 28, 2013 at 03:13

This article is rubbish through and through

just a guy who fed up with pseudo analysis
March 27, 2013 at 22:36

"..there are also concerns that aid could upset the balance of power in a region…"  this guy is either doesn't know what he is talking about or absolutely clueless what kind of military equipment and in what quantity is needed to change the military balance in the region…

March 27, 2013 at 12:39

U.S. shouldn't leave Afghanistan. They should stay and clean up the mess and chaos they created instead of dumping these problems to Russia and China.

March 27, 2013 at 12:17

I agree with the last sentence. Islamist extremists are not a threat to Russia. They are a (bigger) threat to the West. War in Afghanistan will not be over in 2014. It is only a different phase. Afghanistan centred terrorism was directed at the West from 1993 to 2001 in one phase and 2001 to 2014 in another phase. The thrid phase will be after 2014. There is no need for Russia to get involved in this.

[...] Read Here – The Diplomat [...]

Leonard R.
March 27, 2013 at 07:33

Karimov is making a bad bet.

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