Regional Security and the Future of Central Asia: The Competition of Iran, Turkey, and Russia

By Hooman Peimani | Go to book overview
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5
MILITARY FACTORS AND THE RIVALS

INTRODUCTION

Although the fall of the Soviet Union affected all aspects of life in the former Soviet republics, the most dangerous effect of the fall was immediately felt by the CA leaders in the military/security field. The sudden loss of the Soviet security arrangement left these leaders with almost no reliable and effective indigenous means to assure the security of their newly born states. They had virtually no military forces with which to preserve their sovereignty and territorial integrity. In particular, the emergence of opposition groups in the region and the Afghan civil war alarmed them, and real or perceived security threats from neighboring countries such as Iran and China further aggravated their fears.

Despite differences in their economic, political, and social situations, the Central Asians found themselves sharing the same general military/security vulnerabilities. This shared sense of insecurity brought them closer together as they appreciated the sensitivity of the situation, which demanded a common approach toward security problems. Without a doubt, instability is a threat to all the CA states; due to their ethnic structure, no single regional country can be stable so long as other regional states are unstable; instability in any CA country could easily spill over onto its neighbors. Hence security in Central Asia is a regional matter, not just the preoccupation of individual regional states.

The broadly similar military/security situation limited the options available to the Central Asians and pushed them toward the adoption of a common solution to their common problem. There is evidence that, at least in the foreseeable future, this common problem will make a very significant contribution to drawing a common fate for the Central Asians.

Iran, Turkey, and Russia have also acknowledged this regional context. It is quite clear to them that no CA state could possibly ensure the security of Central Asia, even its own security, in a sustainable fashion. In their approach to the CA states, the rivals have clearly indicated that the stability of Central Asia can only

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