ECONOMIC FACTORS AND THE RIVALS
Economic factors, more than any other, have revealed the regional nature of the problems faced by all CA countries. In spite of their differences in terms of economic capabilities, the economic problems they have experienced are all of the same types. In addition to the chronic problems of the command economy (shortages, low efficiency, etc.), their main characteristics are their heavy reliance on Russia, their mainly agrarian economy with an underdeveloped industry, and the ever-increasing problems of transition from a command economy to a market economy. The solution to these problems is the diversification of the regional economies, in terms both of production and of trading partners. The region's rich mineral and energy deposits are the main source of finance for the overhaul of its economies, but these resources need heavy foreign investment for their development.
The rivalry among Iran, Turkey, and Russia has strengthened the regional ties among the CA countries. The expansion of economic relations between the three rivals and the regional countries has necessitated cooperation among the Central Asians. Among other factors, in the absence of regional cooperation international trade would be difficult, if not impossible, as most of the international routes pass through different regional countries. Hostile relations among these countries or their instability caused by poor economic performance will destabilize the entire region, whose countries are linked to each other through ethnic, economic, and military ties. This will surely interrupt regional and international trade and endan-