Academic journal article IUP Journal of International Relations

Security Syndrome in Central Asia: Russia a Protective Shield

Academic journal article IUP Journal of International Relations

Security Syndrome in Central Asia: Russia a Protective Shield

Article excerpt

Introduction

The disintegration of the Soviet Union has changed the security environment in the Eurasian landscape. It culminated in the independence of several former Soviet Union republics, and the five republics of Central Asia followed suit. Pomfret1 admits that the breakup of Soviet Union leftindelible imprints on the geopolitical milieu of the region. Within the changing geopolitical scenario, the abrupt withdrawal created a vacuum which quickly exposed the vulnerability of the region to multidimensional threats. Swanström2 argues that Central Asia, faced with a multitude of common security challenges like crime, corruption, terrorism, and transnational threats, has rarely managed to counter them in a cooperative and efficient manner. Despite their verbal commitment to the global fight against terrorism, in bilateral and multilateral forums, their recent track record in this area appears unimpressive. Nichol3 points out that cooperation among them remains mediocre; security in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan is most clouded by ethnic and territorial disputes and corruption in Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan could spoil the benefits from the development of their ample energy resources. Authoritarianism and poverty could contribute to security crisis and regional instability.

In the contemporary era, this region is acquiring more geostrategic importance due to geographic proximity with fragile Afghanistan, which remained a major catalyst in the articulation of what Kyrgyz diplomat termed 'Challenges of the New Era, in organized crimes, trafficking in drugs, humans, and weapons and Islamic extremism and terrorism.4 The tragedy of 9/11 and its aftermath have made the last category particularly salient. Afghan crisis continues to be a key threat to the stability of Central Asia since the leaders still face major challenges to resolve fundamental socioeconomic, political and military concerns.

The extremist outfit groups both in Pakistan and Afghanistan like al-Qaeda, the Taliban, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, the Jihad Group or the Islamic Jihad Union and others remain threats to the security and stability of the Central Asian Region (CAR). A large number of Uzbeks, Chechens, Tajiks and Kazakhs fought alongside the Taliban. There is a long legacy of cross-border crime and violence, much of it fueled by the drug trade, and such unrest has sometimes ratcheted up acute tensions. The crisis-prone Afghanistan remains the epicenter of narcotic drug trafficking into Central Asia, from where there is an ever-increasing volume of illegal drugs into Russia and then to East European markets along the north route through Central Asia, which is used as a transit corridor. Afghanistan has been a source of concern in recent years for the former Soviet states particularly Central Asian countries which fear the fighting in the wartorn Afghanistan could spill over into the region.

In addition, the region becomes one of the hubs for Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) recruitment, being driven by social and economic exclusions; the organization is now rebranded as the Islamic State (IS). Poverty in all republics and migration from Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to relatively prosperous Kazakhstan and Russia continues to grow. Turkmenistan is relatively closed to the outside world, although, having tremendous natural wealth, significant proportion of the population is still underdeveloped.5 In all five states, religion and religious organizations fill a void created by the lack of credible governance and social insecurity. Against this backdrop, IS calls to recruit teachers, doctors, nurses and engineers, not just as fighters, but as trained professionals in their respective fields, also appears attractive options6 to join the organization. Growing numbers of Central Asian citizens are traveling to the Middle East to fight and support the creation of IS. Therefore, common security challenges of Soviet legacy, mal-administrative institutional setup, poor economics and more significantly Islamic fundamentalism have added to insecurity, chaos and fragility in the CAR. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.