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  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Water has long been a major cause of conflict in Central Asia. Two states – Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan – have a surplus; the other three say they do not get their share from the region's great rivers, the Syr Darya and Amu Darya, which slice across it from the Tien Shan, Pamir Mountains, and the Hindu Kush to the Aral Sea's remains. Pressures are mounting, especially in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The population in Central Asia has increased by almost ten million since 2000, and limited arable land is being depleted by over-use and outdated farming methods. Extensive corruption and failing infrastructure take further toll, while climate change is likely to have long-term negative consequences. As economies become weaker and states more fragile, heightened nationalism, border disputes, and regional tensions complicate the search for a mutually acceptable solution to the region's water needs. A new approach that addresses water and related issues through an interlocking set of individually more modest bilateral agreements instead of the chimera of a single comprehensive one is urgently needed.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Treaties and Agreements, Bilateral Relations, Natural Resources, Water
  • Political Geography: Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Kyrgyzstan's government has failed to calm ethnic tensions in the south, which continue to grow since the 2010 violence, largely because of the state's neglect and southern leaders' anti-Uzbek policies. Osh, the country's second city, where more than 420 people died in ethnic clashes in June of that year, remains dominated by its powerful mayor, an ardent Kyrgyz nationalist who has made it clear that he pays little attention to leaders in the capital. While a superficial quiet has settled on the city, neither the Kyrgyz nor Uzbek community feels it can hold. Uzbeks are subject to illegal detentions and abuse by security forces and have been forced out of public life. The government needs to act to reverse these worsening trends, while donors should insist on improvements in the treatment of the Uzbek minority.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Ethnic Conflict, Government, Political Activism
  • Political Geography: Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan
  • Author: Philip Shishkin
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Asia Society
  • Abstract: Located in a strategically important neighborhood amid China, Russia, Afghanistan, and Iran, and sitting atop vast deposits of oil, gas, gold, and uranium, post-Soviet Central Asia is home to some 50 million people living in five countries: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan . For centuries, the region has drawn the attention of the world's superpowers as they seek leverage over their foes, access to natural resources, or a base from which to influence adjacent regions . For just as long, the societies of Central Asia have been beset by lackluster and often abusive rule, first by warring and insular feudal chiefs, then by colonial conquerors from Russia, and then by their Soviet successors .Since gaining independence from the Soviet Union 20 years ago, the five Central Asian republics have struggled to find viable governance models and to place their economies, long moored to Moscow, on stable footing.
  • Topic: Corruption, Development, Human Rights, Islam, Governance, Self Determination
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Russia, China, Iran, Central Asia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan
  • Author: Heidi Reisinger
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: NATO's decision to withdraw combat troops from Afghanistan has forced the Alliance to think long and hard about the "how" associated with such a withdrawal. As a result the strategic importance of the five Central Asian states Kazakhstan, Kyrrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, a politically neglected region, mostly seen as a supplier of raw materials and energy, is likely to increase significantly. During the past ten years the ISAF mission has focused its attention on Afghanistan itself. The only neighboring country taken into serious consideration has been Pakistan, as emblematically shown in the US AfPak policy approach. North of Afghanistan, the Central Asian states have been left on the sidelines and their strategic and political role has been underestimated. However, they are now back on the political agenda as an indispensable transit ground.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, NATO, Natural Resources
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States, Central Asia, Kazakhstan, Asia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan
  • Author: Philipp Annawitt
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: On 13-14 December 2009 the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP) co-hosted a workshop jointly with the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), Washington, DC, and the Norman Patterson School of International Affairs, Carleton University, Canada. The workshop was co-financed by the Swiss Government and the International Development Research Council, Ottawa.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Globalization, Terrorism, Weapons of Mass Destruction, International Security, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: Kyrgyzstan
  • Author: Neil Melvin, Tolkun Umaraliev
  • Publication Date: 08-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
  • Abstract: During 2010 Kyrgyzstan experienced two periods of conflict that took the country to the brink of civil war: the overthrow of President Kurmanbek Bakiyev in April and the ethnic violence in the south of the country in June. The use of blogs and social network sites as well as mobile and multimedia platforms during the upheaval has led some observers to link developments in Kyrgyzstan to other recent cases of social protest where new media has been prominent. However, these events offer no simple answer to the current social media debate.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Civil War, Science and Technology, Mass Media, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The economic crisis has caused millions of migrant labourers from Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan to lose their jobs in the boom economies of Russia and Kazakhstan. Remittances that kept their relatives afloat have plummeted and many migrants have returned home to certain destitution, putting weak Central Asian governments under severe strain. In Tajikistan half the labour force is without work, while Kyrgyzstan suffers from massive rural unemployment. Before the crisis hit, up to five million people from these countries left home for Russia and Kazakhstan to take on poorly paid and unskilled jobs, often the unpleasant tasks that local people no longer wished to do. Yet at home they were viewed with respect: the most daring members of their society, who were willing to take a jump into the unknown to pull themselves and their families out of poverty. Remittances also boosted their home countries' economic data, allowing governments with little ability or interest in creating jobs to claim a modest degree of success. By 2008 remittances were providing the equivalent of half Tajikistan's gross domestic product (GDP), a quarter of Kyrgyzstan's GDP, and an eighth of Uzbekistan's.
  • Topic: Economics, Migration, Labor Issues, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Russia, Central Asia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan
  • Author: Thomas M. Sanderson, Daniel Kimmage, David A. Gordon
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: When Admiral Dennis Blair, the U.S. director of national intelligence, delivered the intelligence community's annual threat assessment to Congress in February 2009, he painted a bleak picture of post-Soviet Central Asia. Describing Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan as a morass of “highly personalized politics, weak institutions, and growing inequalities,” Blair argued that they are “ill-equipped to deal with the challenges posed by Islamic violent extremism, poor economic development, and problems associated with energy, water, and food distribution.”
  • Topic: Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Central Asia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Soviet Union
  • Publication Date: 08-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: An explosion of violence, destruction and looting in southern Kyrgyzstan on 11-14 June 2010 killed many hundreds of people, mostly Uzbeks, destroyed over 2000 buildings, mostly homes, and deepened the gulf between the country\'s ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks. It was further proof of the near total ineffectiveness of the provisional government that overthrew President Kurmanbek Bakiyev in April 2010, and is now trying to guide the country to general elections in October. Given the government\'s slowness to address the causes and consequences of the violence, the danger of another explosion is high. Even without one, the aftershocks of the looting, murder and arson could seriously damage Kyrgyzstan\'s ailing economy, cause a significant outflow of ethnic Uzbeks and other minorities, and further destabilise the already fragile situation in Central Asia in general. The route back to stability will be long and difficult, not least because no reliable security or even monitoring force has been deployed in the affected area. It should start with an internationally supported investigation into the pogroms, as visible an international police and diplomatic presence as possible to discourage their recurrence, and close coordination on effective rebuilding of towns and communities.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Genocide, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: Central Asia, Asia, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan
  • Author: Sergey Markedonov
  • Publication Date: 11-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: As Kyrgyzstan plunges into crisis and the threat of a second Afghanistan in Central Asia looms large, the situation in the "Big Caucasus" seems less pressing and thus overshadowed. The worst scenarios predicted by analysts and politicians for the period of the 2008 August war have not been realized. The Russian attempt to "replace the regime" of Mikhail Saakashvili or apply the Georgian pattern in Ukraine, expected by many in the West, has not taken place. Neither have the attempts from the West (the United States, NATO, and others) to "nudge Georgia into a rematch," which were expected in Moscow. Nonetheless, the Caucasus region remains one of the most vulnerable spaces in Eurasia. In the Caucasus, the first precedent of a revision of borders between the former Soviet republics was established. For the first time in Eurasia, and particularly in the Caucasus, partially recognized states have emerged. While their independence is denied by the United Nations, it is recognized by the Russian Federation, a permanent member of the UN Security Council. After the "hot August" of 2008, Moscow demonstrated its willingness to play the role of a revisionist state for the first time since 1991. Russia defines the "Big Caucasus" as the sphere of its vital interests and priorities and consequently pretends to be a key stakeholder for the whole region.
  • Topic: NATO, Islam, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Russia, United States, Central Asia, Eurasia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Moscow, United Nations