A Strategy for Central Asia
Fried, Daniel, DISAM Journal of International Security Assistance Management
[The following are excerts from the statement presented to the Subcommittee on the Middle East and Central Asia of the House International Relations Committee, Washington, D.C., October 27, 2005.]
I would like to take this opportunity to outline the Administration's policy towards Central Asia, and include the goals and challenges we face in implementing them. We pursue three sets of strategic interests in Central Asia:
* Energy and regional economic cooperation; and
* Freedom through reform.
We believe that these objectives are indivisible and ultimately consistent. Political reform, economic reform and security all are mutually reinforcing.
In her visit earlier this month to Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan, United States secretary of State Condoleezza Rice significantly advanced our objectives in all three areas. Her travel there, including the first visit ever by a U.S. secretary of State to an independent Tajikistan, reflects our strong interest in supporting the development of these countries as sovereign, stable, democratic and prosperous nations. These countries have long been at the crossroads of world history. So they are again today. And despite the geographic distance between our country and those of Central Asia, we find ourselves faced with many challenges of immediate and pressing concern.
Terrorism is one such challenge. The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and other extremist groups, including the Islamic Jihad Group, continue to pose a threat to security and stability. Poor and rapidly growing populations still lacking in economic opportunity and feeling a sense of injustice are potentially susceptible to the call of violent extremism, particularly when legitimate avenues of dissent are foreclosed. A legacy of authoritarianism, as well as endemic corruption, continue to hamper the development of public institutions, good governance and the rule of law. Retrograde regimes in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan hold their peoples back, and detract from regional cooperation and development. Yet there is also ample cause for optimism. Every year, more and more people throughout the region are finding new opportunities to thrive in economies that are privatizing and diversifying, and growing rapidly. Kazakhstan is the best example of the region's potential economic dynamism, as it moves to take its place among the world's top energyproducing nations. In Kyrgyzstan, civil society is gradually finding new political space to assemble freely and call for reform. Throughout the region, 1000-year-old traditions of tolerant faith and scientific learning continue to provide a natural shield against imported and narrow interpretations of Islam that breed extremism and violence.
We are doing what we can to support these positive trends. In fiscal year (FY) 2005, we budgeted over $240 million in assistance to Central Asia, focusing our efforts on building and strengthening civil society, promoting democratic and economic reform, and combating criminal activities and terrorism. We are also directing assistance toward promoting regional security through counterproliferation, counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics cooperation. This is money well spent.
We pursue all three sets of our strategic interests in tandem, because failure in one area will undermine the chance of success in another. We are therefore supporting political and economic reform, rule of law, good governance, respect for human rights, religious freedom and tolerance, free trade and open markets, development of small businesses, energy investment, and cooperation in the fight against terror and weapons of mass destruction, all at the same time.
Since September 11, 2001, the United States has undertaken an ambitious forward strategy in Central Asia in support of the Global the War on Terrorism. Three of the five countries in Central Asia border on …
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Publication information: Article title: A Strategy for Central Asia. Contributors: Fried, Daniel - Author. Magazine title: DISAM Journal of International Security Assistance Management. Volume: 28. Issue: 2 Publication date: Winter 2006. Page number: 99+. © Defense Institute of Security Assistance Management Fall 1997. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.