PRAVDA.Ru already told about studies of the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis devoted to prospects of Russia’s development in the nearest 25 years. The report also paid attention to possible variants of political and economical development in the Middle Asia. According to the authors of Strategic Paradigms 2025: U.S. Security Planning for a New Era, former Soviet republics of Middle Asia will play in important role in the nearest 25 years. Though, this region hardly will be quiet. The situation will depend mostly on relations between China, Russia, and India.
According to Washington ProFile agency, which published extracts from the studies, the US Institute proceeded from the fact, that the region was the arena of potential instability. There are several reasons of it. In the Soviet Union, borders between different ethnic groups were reshaped. In this way the USSR tried to avoid centrifugal tendencies. The complicated multinational content of the five Middle-Asian republics does not inspires persuasion of their political stability.
The Kazakh and Kirghyz make up about a half of the population in their national countries. Uzbekistan has an ethnically monolithic population, though in the two big cities – Bukhara and Samarkand – Tajiks mostly live. At the same time, Uzbek diaspora is the biggest national minority in Tajikistan and Turkmenia and second biggest in Kirghysia. One more important factor of instability in the former Soviet republics is presence of religious groups. In monoethnic Tajikistan, a many-year civil war was carried out caused by religious and regional problems. All Middle-Asian republics face the issue of increasing number of young people. For example, in some countries, up to 40 percent of the population is made up by people before 15 (this is two times more than this number in the developing countries), which causes joblessness and social discontent.
“Powerful hands” of Kazakh, Kirhgyz, Turkmen, and Uzbek leaders, according to the authors of the studies, cannot politically suppress opposition in their countries. Even wise versa: this tactics only add power to the opposition. US analysts suppose that sooner or later this could cause a fundamentalist regime at least in one Middle-Asian country. This is very probable because on one of the governments managed to guarantee stable increase of living standard.
The education system was injured as a result of constant under- financing. There are serious troubles in public health service: Middle Asia faced epidemics of infection diseases. At the same time, building of presidential palaces and other “national memorials” is being invested. Enrichment of ruling elite is accompanied with lowing of living standard of the biggest part of Middle-Asian population. These states will economically depend on the fate of oil reserves of Caspian Sea. One of the main issue is supply of Caspian oil and gas to the world energy market. In this question economical and political interests of Russia, Iran, Turkey, the US, and Caucasian and Middle-Asian countries collide with each other. These interests are so different, that the oil supply hardly will be possible before 2010. Several factors – oil, geopolitics, internal conflicts – are being laid on the Middle-Asian soil, which could cause serious consequences, the US Institute considers. The situation is being aggravated with “vacuum of force” in the region. Russia keeps its military presence in Tajikistan and shows “at least, its passive interest in the fate of the Russian-language population” in the region.
Though, Russia has not enough implements to restore its hegemony in Middle Asia. At the same time, the authors of the studies suppose, the US and Europe showed that they are not interested in establishing their dominating influence in the region. India is not capable to do it at least because of geographic reasons, moreover, Delhi has complicated relations with Muslim Pakistan. Pakistan also does not have necessary resources. Turkey and Iran cannot transform their ethnic and religious connections with Middle Asia into something more serious. China interested in Middle-Asian oil and gas is the only world power which can fulfil the vacuum till 2025.
Though, while participants of the great geopolitical game are trying to define their position on the region, numerous conflicts could appear in Middle Asia. Today’s situation could lead corrupted, half-dictatorial, non-stable states to a war of Yugoslav type. Presence in the region of religious groups is an additional factor of non-stability. By the year 2025, Middle Asia could turn in a kind of Afghanistan, while moderate states will disappear from the map at all.
Sergei Borisov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Vera Solovieva
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2002/06/17/42776.html