THE ANTITERRORIST CAMPAIGN AND NEW GEOPOLITICAL AND SECURITY TRENDS IN THE REGIONAL SYSTEMS OF CENTRAL ASIA AND THE CAUCASUS

Jannatkhan EIVAZOV


Jannatkhan Eivazov, Lecturer at the Department of International Relations, Baku State University (Baku, Azerbaijan)


The tragic events of 11 September, 2001 in the United States when the worlds mightiest power was caught unprepared and its vulnerability confirmed two key propositions. First, the range of international security problems has extended and the transnational threats are consistently becoming more real. This is irreversible. From this it follows that the world community should regard international terrorism, illegal drugs and arms trade, environmental and other problems as it regards traditional threats, such as an armed aggression.

Second, the countries should abandon the policy of self-isolation, transregional actions have become necessary that would involve regions earlier outside the main centers of international activities. None of the states, no matter how strong and how far removed from these centers, can protect itself against the transborder threats to its security. What is more, at the present stage when material interdependence of social communities has increased it is hard to imagine any region, no matter how rich and safe, able to continue its isolated existence or regarding it as advisable. Indeed, the rich and safe are surrounded by crowded regional systems that are neither rich, nor restrained, nor organized, nor safe.

The United States that has lived through several tragic hours had to make adequate conclusions and plan adequate responses. The U.S.-initiated global antiterrorist campaign also aimed at the states that support terrorism has spread far and wide, outside the North American continent. The majority of states have joined in.

The threats emanating from Afghanistan and its geographic location predetermined the military operations regional dimension. It started in the country itself, which is a seat of international terrorism. It was clear from the very beginning that the United States will have to come to the Eurasian heartlandCentral Asia and the Caucasus. In the past neither the U.S. nor any other Western country stayed there for long and never confronted the continents giants. Even when the Soviet Union fell apart and Russia under Yeltsin suffered from geopolitical weakness America was still applying Russia first principle there. The antiterrorist operation in the course of which American military contingents had to be deployed in Central Asia and the U.S. further steps in relation to its South Caucasian allies could not but affect the regional processes. There is no doubt that international security, at least of the directly threatened regions, will be promoted by the U.S. consistent and unprecedented entrenching in the Eurasian heartland. Many of the local states have started getting the American remedy they waited for to address the most urgent problems. On the other hand, one should bear in mind that throughout the centuries a certain geopolitical and security structure had taken shape and was functioning in the inner Eurasian regions. A comparatively new and exceptionally strong player will trigger deep-cutting structural changes, whose moderately positive and negative potentials are accelerating there. The United States that is guided by its own national security interests has become actively involved in the process and closely connected with other players.

Central Asia and the Caucasus: the Legacy of Eurasian Geopolitics

Central Asia and the Caucasus are two regional systems found deep inside the Eurasian continent. Certain structural distinctions born by their territorial and climatic specifics, ethnic, religious and resource potential notwithstanding, there are firm geopolitical ties between them: the same traditional players operate in both regions.1 The two regions are traditionally very responsive to outside geopolitical influences. The regions are made up of internally weak nation-states with a huge potential of territorial disputes caused by considerable divergencies between the ethnic and confessional patterns and the state borders. These shared ethnopolitical features played an important role in the local nations historical destinies. Internal weakness, an absence of a consolidating force, ethnic and religious patchwork, disunity, and never ceasing strife have weakened the regions and eased outside influences.

The periodically aggravating struggle for domination over the regions reflected the balance of forces that existed at each particular moment among the powers of the outside triangle (Russia, Turkey, and Iran) and the level of stability inside the regions. The correlation between the level of influence of the traditional players in Central Asia and the Caucasus was changing nearly simultaneously. This can also be said about the periods of complete unilateral outside control. Early in the 19th century a long period of stronger Russias influence began. A temporal loss of control in 1917-the 1920s was followed by a 70-year-long period of the Kremlins unilateral and total control over both regions. There is no doubt that the Soviet centers absolute domination over Central Asia and the Caucasus during the Cold War quenched, for some time, the activity of the other interested players. Their strengths were not equal to the Soviet potential, therefore they had to recognize the situation and abandon (temporarily, as we know now) their geopolitical ambitions in these regions.

However, disintegration of the Soviet Union called for a radical revision of geopolitical situation in Central Eurasia. The formally independent Central Asian and Caucasian republics appeared somewhat unexpectedly thus giving a fresh start to geopolitical struggle. An heir to the Soviet Unions international affairs, Russia proved too weak to restore, promptly and completely, geopolitical domination of its recently mighty predecessor. When the bipolar world disappeared and a new world order began taking shape, the traditional triangle outside the region (Russia, Iran, and Turkey) resumed its activity. Little by little other centers of power (the West, China and regional actorsIndia, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia) that had strengthened their positions also betrayed their interest. India, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia were not strong enough to support this interest, therefore they rarely showed interest in both regions at once.

Emergence of Interconnected Security Complexes

A short period of geopolitical uncertainty caused by the Soviet Unions swift melting away was replaced, little by little, with an emergence and activization of a system of interaction inside and outside the regions: both among the newly independent sates and between them and regional powers. The process of regional interaction among the states was gaining momentum, yet the Central Asian and Caucasian countries were leaving the sphere of total Soviet control at different paces. At the same time lack of structural stability in both regional systems forced the local countries to enter into definite relations that created close interdependence in the sphere of security. Ethnic conflicts and de facto formation of sub-regional alliances and counter-alliances reflected both shared and contradictory security interests and stemmed, directly or indirectly, from the relations among the newly independent states and the powers of regional importance. Regional security complexes began to emerge first in the Caucasus and a little later in Central Asia.

It was Barry Buzan who has introduced the term security complex and has described it as a group of states whose primary security concerns link together sufficiently closely that their national securities cannot realistically be considered apart from one another.2 In other words, a security complex is a definite form of interdependence of states that manifests itself both in rivalry and in the shared security interests.3

A discussion of any form of regional system as a security complex should be based not so much on the factor of comparative geographic proximity of the states involved as on the presence of mutually complementary or rivaling interests of broadly perceived security and on the nature of their relations (enmity or cooperation). Today, both the Caucasus and Central Asia have enough attributes of a security complex. The only question is: which of them has more or less approached the level of regional interactions described by Buzan?4 There is another question: Should we look at the entire regional system or only its part as a security complex?5

In case of the Caucasus the question is clear enough. It should be noted that many researchers agree that the Caucasus is a security complex. For example, S. Cornell has written: naturally the Caucasus is a region, but more than being a region, it is a security complex: the national security of one of the Caucasian states cannot realistically be considered apart from that of the other two. As far as the three regional powers (Turley, Iran and Russia.J.E.) are concerned, the security of the Caucasus does have a direct bearing upon the national security that justifies their inclusion into the security complex.6 Bruno Coppieters is of an identical opinion. His work under an eloquent title The Caucasus as a Security Complex presupposes precisely this approach to the region.7

The structure and nature of ties and relations among the states that have become parts of the security complex in the Caucasus in the post-Soviet time speak of a high degree of mutual dependence in the security sphere. Irrespective of their national forces the participants have weak spots of their own that are related to their neighbors. In case of the South Caucasian countries (Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan) the interdependence of their national security spheres is best seen in the following: the relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan are based on an acute territorial contradiction deeply rooted in past enmity and mistrust. Armenia occupies 20 percent of Azerbaijanian territory and is trying to gain independence for the Armenians living in Nagorny Karabakh so that to weaken, to the greatest degree, the potentially much stronger Azerbaijan. Armenia is exploiting its strategic relationships with two powers of the complex, Iran and Russia. Armenian occupation is threatening Azerbaijans national security. Baku is trying to form a strategic alliance with two other states of the same complexTurkey and Georgiato balance out the Armenian threat.

The very obvious manifestation of the security dilemma in the relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan has testified to the fact that stronger national security of one side is perceived by the other side as its own inevitably weakening security. The relationships between Azerbaijan and Georgia are determined, on the one hand, by Georgias pro-Western and pro-Turkish orientation, its geopolitical location and the role of a link between the world markets of energy fuels and Azerbaijan that depends to a great degree on its oil exports. On the other hand, there are considerations of Georgias energy security and other dividends created by the oil transit across its territory. In addition, Baku and Tbilisi have to bear in mind that there are ethnic Azeris living mainly in compact groups in Georgia (they comprise 5.7 percent of Georgias total population).8

The interconnection between the Georgian and Armenian spheres of interest is equally evident. First, there are Armenians (8.1 percent of Georgias population) living compactly in Georgia (mainly in Javakheti).9 Second, Georgia separates Armenia from Russia and serves a transit territory across which Russias energy fuels reach Armenia.

Similar mutual dependencies in the security sphere can be easily identified in the regional powers. Lets have a look at the traditional rivals: Russia, Turkey, and Iran. Cornell has the following to say about the threats to the national security of Iran and Russia emanating from the Caucasus: Irans security and in the extension its very survival in its present shape is inextricably linked to the situation in Azerbaijan and the question of the Azeris of Iran. Russia sees control over the South Caucasus as one of the most important elements in its national security, to such an extent that players within Russia have been propelled to conduct a series of direct interventions with a view to influence the leaderships and policies of these states. Most notably, the situation in the North Caucasus, an integral part of the Russian Federation, is directly affected by the situation in the South Caucasus. A loss of Russian control over the region is seen in Moscow as a severe setback in Russias ambition to remain a great power with a capacity to project its influence towards the Middle East; to this aim, Russia has relied upon its relationship with Armenia as an anchor in the Caucasus.10

Turkey looks at the Caucasus as a traditionally important area related to a very broad range of interests connected, in one way or another, with its national security. Speaking about the regional context of his countrys security, in the Caucasus in particular, Turkish general Erguvench said: Looking around, one sees that Turkeys relations with its neighbors are not at all trouble free It has ideological differences with Iran. It is at opposites with Armenia on the question of Nagorno-Karabakh and on historical accounts. Despite the attractive and promising prospects of partnership, Turkey and Russia still need to overcome the legacies of the past, and now face the danger (once again) of entering the tunnel of rivalry.11

The author is absolutely right about the Caucasian system of interactions that most obviously threaten Turkeys national security: Erevans possible territorial claims directly challenging Ankara,12 support for the Kurd separatists operating from the Caucasus, and contention over a stable access to the Turkic Central Asian states that no other power can control (this access is supported by independent Azerbaijan strengthened by its close relations with Georgia).13 On the other hand, the energy sphere created an intimate connection between Turkeys national security and the Caucasus. Turkeys insignificant energy potential cannot maintain its economic growth. Its energy security depends on the Caspian oiltherefore, the oil and gas pipelines running across Azerbaijan and Georgia and their safety are very important for Turkey. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline and the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline are of immense importance for Turkeys future.

For objective reasons (different geographical location, ethnic and confessional structure and the degree of its geopolitical openness and pluralism) the Central Asian security complex is less developed. This also explains different development levels of the regional and transregional contacts and relations in Central Asia and the Caucasus. These factors are responsible for the intensity of clashes (or for their absence) of the national security interests. Being relatively close to the traditional epicenters of European geopolitics (the Black Sea and the Straits), the Caucasus has been involved in geopolitical activities on a relatively greater scale. Even when Russia was dominating it the Caucasus remained the most vulnerable and least stable area. The North Caucasian peoples rebelled regularly and were as regularly cruelly suppressed; they were resettled en masse; Armenians as the most loyal population sector were encouraged, the unreliable Caucasian ethnoses were deported. On the one hand, this bred grudges, enmity and mistrust, on the other, Europe and later the United States, have never lost sight of the processes going on there.14

This does not apply to Central Asia: under Russian domination the region remained the most stable part of the empiredestabilization could be caused solely by frantic activities from abroad. The threats to Russian domination created by large anti-Russian rebellions in the region were insignificant and easily quenched. In the historical perspective stability in Central Asia was also ensured by the fairly weak traditions of statehood and the vaguely felt ethnic identity. The West turned its gaze to the Caucasus much earlier than it noticed Central Asia. Early in the 20th century this interest was based on oilit survived through the period of Soviet control and was ignited when the Soviet Union weakened. During World War II Hitler Germany displayed a lively interest in the Caucasian oil.

The above speaks of objectively determined differences in the levels of internal structural organization and development of both complexes, yet one cannot say that Central Asia has no security complex at all. In the present context and amid the current geopolitical trends (a heightened interest of the West, the United States especially, in the Eurasian heartland) the Central Asian security complex has a good chance of taking a final shape. The regions present-day structural specifics suggest that the complex will take a very distinctive form.

Lets have a look at Central Asias ethnic and religious features. In the ethnic and religious respects it is much more homogeneous than the Caucasus: Islam is the dominant religion, northern Kazakhstan with its mainly Orthodox Christian population (30 percent15 of the countrys total population) being the only exception. Likewise Central Asia is ethnically less heterogeneous than the Caucasus; Turkic-speaking nations predominate there: Kazakhs, Uzbeks, Kyrgyz, and Turkmens. There are fairly large groups of Iranian and Slavic peoples. Tajikistan is the only non-Turkic republic there; Tajiks also live in compact groups in Uzbekistan. Russians and Ukrainians, two largest Slavic groups in the region, occupy almost all the north of Kazakhstan.

In Central Asia, as well as in the Caucasus, ethnic distribution pattern does not coincide with state borders. This is a source of conflicts and an important factor of mutual dependence among the members of the security complex in Central Asia. It should be added that the regional powers (Russia, Iran and China) have their own share of ethnic vs. territorial division. In Central Asia the disbalances are rooted mainly in the Soviet past: the administrative frontiers appeared there in the 1920s, within the Soviet Union. In the post-Soviet era they have already triggered several territorial disputes. When talking about the security threats to the newly independent Central Asian and Caucasian states Bruce George writes: Border disputes, if left unresolved, could paralyze progress towards democracy, displace additional thousands of people, and prevent all nations and peoples from benefiting from the unhindered extraction of energy resourcesalthough experience shows that a nations natural resource wealth alone is not sufficient to bring prosperity and democracy, and can make it vulnerable to external pressures.16

Territorial disputes in Central Asia involve two or more states. The Ferghana Valley is one of the conflict-breeding places. The Ferghana Valley spreads over southern Kyrgyzstan, eastern Uzbekistan, and northern Tajikistan. The valley is one of the most densely populated and agriculturally rich regions in Central Asia. It has been a source of bitter contention among all three states. The borders of the three countries zigzag through this area with no regard for tribal/ethnic borders, leading to strong irredentist feelings.17 There are numerous ethnic enclaves in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan. Some of the ethnic groups wield much power and can be used as geopolitical instruments both by the Central Asian states and the interested powers outside the region.

Tajikistan, a non-Turkic republic, is one of the best examples: the north, with 27 percent of the population and most of the countrys industry, remains partly ethnic Uzbek and under Uzbekistans heavy influence.18 The eastern half of the country constitutes an autonomous republic populated with people whose first language is Shugnani or Rushani but not Tajik and who are Ismaili Shia Muslims rather than Sunni.19 There are ethnic Tajik enclaves in Uzbekistan with Samarkand and Bukhara being their cultural centers. According to some sources there are about 1 million Tajiks there.

The relations between Tashkent and Bishkek are strained. There is a considerable number of Uzbeks living along the border between the two countries. Almost the entire Uzbek population in Kyrgyzstan lives in this (Ferghana.Ed.) valley (552,000 Uzbeks live with 1.2 million Kyrgyz). In addition, the war in Tajikistan has driven refugees and freedom fighters into this area of Kyrgyzstan.20

I have already spoken about the ethnic and religious situation in Kazakhstan. Its bi-national structure has made it especially vulnerable. Partition, invasion or collapse could have far-reaching international effects. Maintaining a workable and durable balance between the pressures of Kazakh and Russian nationalism is the fundamental challenge for any government in Kazakhstan, and it is critical to both domestic and foreign policies. The support of the large Russian population in northern Kazakhstan depends almost as much on the actions of the Russian Federation as it does on Kazakhstans.21

There is another factor of structural instability in both regions: a considerable imbalance between the states military and economic might. In both complexes the militarily strong and resource-rich countries live side by side with weak and poor onesthe latter are seeking patronage of the regional powers. This creates dependence vectors very much typical of the security complexes there. Table 1 gives an idea about the military balance between the new independent Central Asian and Caucasian republics (total numerical strength of their armed forces).

Table 1

Country MOD/Border Forces Paramilitary (MVD, National Guard)
Armenia 44,000 1,000
Azerbaijan 69,900 15,000
Georgia 29,000 6,500
Kazakhstan 100,000 34,000
Kyrgyzstan 14,000 3,000
Tajikistan 24,000 6,000
Turkmenistan 16,000 6,000
Uzbekistan 130,000 19,000

Source: U.S. Department of Defense.22

There is an obvious lack of balance in the distribution of energy potential (Table 2).

Table 2

Country Proven oil reserves

(million barrels)
Proven natural gas reserves (trillion cubic feet)
Armenia
Azerbaijan 4-12,000 11
Georgia 35 0.3
Kazakhstan 10-17,000 53-83
Kyrgyzstan 40 0.2
Tajikistan 12 0.2
Turkmenistan 1,700 98-155
Uzbekistan 600 74-88

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration; Oil and Gas Journal.23

One can obviously speak about a consistently developing interdependent national security structure of the states and powers of the Central Asian security complex. The following contours of interdependence can be easily identified in its internal configuration. Tajikistan: the Uzbek population of the north of the countrypotential threat to its territorial integrity, political weakness inside the country, scarce resources, undeveloped communication lines, chronic instability along the border with Afghanistan, and complete military dependence on Russia. Kyrgyzstan: the centrifugal potential of a half a million ethnic Uzbeks living in the Kyrgyz part of the Ferghana Valley, still unsettled border issues with China, political weakness inside the country, scarcity of resources, weak armed forces, and de facto dependence on Russia. Turkmenistan: strong and ambitious neighbors (Uzbekistan, Iran, Kazakhstan, and Afghanistan) and militarily vulnerable geographic location and terrain (its inner area, with insignificant exceptions, is desert while the bulk of the population and the major industrial centers that need protection are found along the borders),24 weak armed forces, shortage of fresh water that causes conflicts with Uzbekistan,25 dependence on Uzbekistan as well as on Kazakhstan, Russia and Iran in delivering natural gas, its main source of income, to the world markets. Kazakhstan: the centrifugal potential of the Slavic population of the north, dependence on Russia in the sphere of oil transportation. Uzbekistan: the Tajik enclaves, radical Islamic groups that receive considerable support from abroad, the neighbors mistrust and fear, and a threat of isolation because it is the regions strongest and most ambitious state.

Central Asia is the place where the vectors of the security interests of the states outside the region meet: Uighur separatism in China, the problem of the Russian speakers in Central Asia, vulnerability of what is known as Russias soft underbelly, the Turkic separatist potential in Iran. The potential emanates not only from the countrys north (Southern Azerbaijan) that is basically an Azerbaijanian enclave but also from the areas along the borders with Turkmenistan peopled by ethnic Turkmens. If Iran develops into enemy No. 1 for the United States, Washington may use the factor of Turkic separatism to keep the Iranian regime in check. One million ethnic Turkmens cannot destabilize the situation in Iran, yet together with 27 million Iranian Azeris they may start a chain reaction. Central Asia is also an alternative source of energy for Turkeys economic growth.

The situation in Central Eurasia will certainly change under the impact of the U.S.-led war against terrorism and the gradually strengthening positions of the West there. In this connection it is important to examine the factors that stimulate the Caucasian and Central Asian security complexes to get an insight into possible developments in Central Eurasia. Comparative analysis of the two regional systems demonstrates that in both cases a switch to the security complex structure was caused by two interconnected processes: Russias declined influence and the regions greater geopolitical variety and increasing Western influence in the Caucasus and Central Asia. This explains why they did not switch to the security complexes simultaneously. The Soviet Union had disappeared from all territories at one and the same time and all Soviet republics acquired their de jure independence simultaneously while Moscows influence lingered de facto in some of them longer than in others. Certain republics became immediately free of the Kremlins domination, others shook it off only partly while still others (and they were in a majority) remained under its control for some time. The resulting vacuum attracted other centers of power. The Baltic republics, the Caucasus and Central Asia are the most relevant examples of the above. In the Baltic republics the void left by Moscow was immediately filled in with Western influence; in the Caucasus where the Kremlin lost part of its former domination other centers of power appeared. In Central Asia the decline of Moscows influence is least noticeable. Correspondingly, the Caucasus demonstrated the highest level of geopolitical pluralism. This feature (post-Soviet distribution of the influence coefficient in the Caucasus and Central Asia) predetermined the formers comparatively early shift into a security complex and a comparatively more intensive interaction with its internal and external configurations. More intensive interactions within the Caucasian complex manifested themselves in growing ethnic and religious conflicts, de facto alliances, and general instability. In contrast to the Caucasus, in Central Asia Russias positions remained practically unaltered. Russia restored comparatively quickly its influence in Central Asia after a short period of post-Soviet vacillations and even euphoria.26

Central Asia started its gradual movement toward a full-scale security complex when its states had opened their doors to the West. This development was caused by two factors mentioned above. Russia could no longer completely isolate the region from the West: starting with the mid-1990s the region has been receiving Western investments in its rich oil and gas sector. The West was growing more and more interested in Central Asia. The same was happening in the Caucasus. The two regions became closer from the geo-economic point of view.

Stronger American positions in Afghanistan and American troops stationed in some of the countries for the duration of the antiterrorist operationUzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Georgia (in the latter, the official purpose was described as military training of the Georgian antiterrorist units)influenced the regional structures to the greatest extent. The above suggests a conclusion that stronger American military-political influence will lead to geopolitical pluralism and stronger parallel trends now unfolding in Central Eurasia: further development of the security complex in Central Asia and the Caucasus and stronger ties between them.

The present geopolitical and security complex there can be described as interconnected security complexes still in the process of formation. So far, we cannot speak about a single Central Eurasian security complex because there is no close interdependence in the national security sphere among the states of inner configuration (Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia + Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Afghanistan). Today, one can only talk about partial interconnection between the two complexes within the inner configurations. On the other hand, there is an obvious trend toward consistent interaction among the regional structuresthe Caspian basin is the best example of this. The relations among the coastal states are not smooth: Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan are contending over the richest oilfields, Chirag and Kiapaz (both countries depend on energy fuels export as the source of income), while disagreements between Azerbaijan and Iran resulted in open muscle flexing. The sea is no longer just a traditional frontier between the two regions but also a sphere of emerging national security interests (economy, military security and ecological issues). The projects of Eurasian communication lines to connect the West and the East bypassing Russia and Iran, two regional powers, and the plans of a trans-Caspian system of energy fuels traffic are making the complexes interdependent. This is especially true of the pro-Western countries: Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. The nature of blocs also reflects the mutual dependence of the security complexes: Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Armenia are members of the Collective Security Treaty while Georgia and Azerbaijan are members of the GUUAM structure together with Uzbekistan. The countries are even more vulnerable and even closer tied together in the face of transnational threats created by drug trafficking, ecological problems, and international terrorism.

The interconnected national security interests of the regional powers are even clearer: one can even say that an external Central Eurasian pentagon consisting of Russia, Turkey, Iran, the U.S., and China has taken shape.

The External Central Eurasian Pentagon: General Outlines of the Interconnected National Security Interests

I have already written above that in the past Russia, Iran, and Turkey were regarded as the main geopolitical rivals in Central Asia and the Caucasus, their security interests being intertwined. This was one of the common features of Central Asia and the Caucasus. In the post-Soviet period the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington involved China and the United States. The result was an external Central Eurasian pentagon. The security interests of the five countries are interconnected and are tied to the security interests of the states of inner configuration in both complexes. At the same time, one cannot deny that other Central Asian states (Pakistan and India) also have national security interests of their own, yet concentrate on one of the complexes. The pentagon is connected with both complexes at one and the same time. In other words, threats to one of the pentagon powers created by regional interactions are stimulated within both complexes. The actions designed to neutralize the threats cannot reach their aim if the power in question concentrates on one complex only and neglects the other.

For Russia lost influence in Central Asia and the Caucasus spells greater vulnerability of the so-called southern Muslim belt. Alienation of Central Asia makes the inland Russian centers (the soft underbelly of the Urals industry) more vulnerable. This also threatens to turn the Muslim republics of the former Greater Russia into an alien nucleus that will disrupt the living tissue of the undivided country (Russia is home for 20 million Muslims). This is even more important.27 This threat is also connected with the geopolitical factor of Muslim Iran and Turkey. Potential Turkic separatism in Iran is connected both with Southern Caucasus and Central Asiait can be stimulated by Turkey or the United States or by both of them together. Turkey that badly needs energy resources and that depends for them on Russia cannot obtain alternative (Turkic) hydrocarbons from Central Asia without its South Caucasian partners (Georgia and Azerbaijan). The threat comes from a possibility of restored Russias control either over Southern Caucasus or Central Asia. China is facing a threat of Uighur (Turkic) separatism stimulated by what is going on in Central Asia and also by the degree of pan-Turkic sentiments in Turkey together with the processes of consolidation of the Turkic states (Turkey-the Caucasus-Central Asia). Turkey and the United States may stimulate Uighur separatism to weaken China.

The United States participation in the Central Eurasian pentagon resulted from the terrorist attacks of 11 September: the tragic event demonstrated American vulnerability especially to the threats from Central Eurasia. Before the terrorist attacks Washington did not regard its interests in the Caucasus and Central Asia as vitally importanttoday there is a direct connection between U.S. national security and the processes unfolding in these regions. Indeed, Central Eurasia is the main base of the radical Islamic organizations (al-Qaeda and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan). Their main patrons are also found in Central Eurasia: Iran has been mentioned as one of the countries that support international terrorism. It has acquired considerable military and economic potential, nuclear weapons and the swiftly developing delivery means. The United States needs to contain Iran and oppose it; it also needs to efficiently oppose the threat of terrorism, something that is impossible without adequate measures in Central Asia and the Southern Caucasus.28

As the United States is strengthening its positions in Central Eurasia the states of the external and internal configurations are becoming more and more interconnected. Today, national security of Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Uzbekistan depends on the U.S. and Turkey in the same way as the national interests of Armenia, Tajikistan and partly Turkmenistan, on Russia and Iran, while Kyrgyzstans national security depends on Russia and China; Kazakhstan depends on Russia to a great extent. Effective opposition to transnational threats is impossible without the United States; equally the regional countries cannot neutralize these threats without Americas active involvement.

Conclusion

Stronger national security interests and stronger military-political positions of the United States in Central Eurasia have become a reality, the interconnected security complexes that are taking shape in Central Asia and the Caucasus being one of its manifestations. Americas very presence in Afghanistan is enough for one of the elements of the pentagon to function in a proper way. The euphoria caused by Russian-American partnership will merely play down the interactions within the interconnected security complexes. This process may become short-lived. One cannot exclude negative results of the current changes in both regions. First, the relations among the five powers of the pentagon may polarize and two hostile blocs may become a reality (for example, Russia-China-Iran against the United States and Turkey with regional countries siding with one bloc or another). The same situation existed on the eve of World War I within the West European security complex. It resulted in a war. Second, conflicts in the regional states may intensify because of the problems described above. The pentagon states may join in the conflicts.


1 Traditionally the same powers are playing an active geopolitical role within the two regional systems. Indeed, Russia, Iran, and Turkey are still considered the main players with fairly strong interests both in the Caucasus and Central Asia. China that has been present only in Central Asia is the only exception.
2 B. Buzan, People, States and Fear: An Agenda for International Security Studies in the Post Cold War Era, New York, London, 1991, p. 190.
3 See: Ibidem.
4 The author is inclined to look at the security complex concept not as a final and static form of intertwining security interests but as an intermediate development stage that can reach a higher level.
5 For example, in case of the Caucasus, its northern part is Russian territory. Can we apply the term to the Caucasus as a whole or only to the Southern Caucasus?
6 S.E. Cornell, Small Nations and Great Powers. A Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict in the Caucasus, Curron Press, England, 2001, p. 391.
7 See: B. Coppieters, Conclusions: The Caucasus as a Security Complex, in: Contested Borders in the Caucasus, ed. by B. Coppieters, VUBPress, Brussels, 1996, pp. 193-204.
8 See: Z. Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives, Basic Books, New York, 1997, p. 127.
9 See: Ibid.
10 S.E. Cornell, op. cit., pp. 391-392.
11 S. Erguvench, Turkeys Security Perceptions, Perceptions, Vol. 3, No. 2, 1998.
12 See: S.E. Cornell, op. cit., p. 392.
13 See: Ibidem.
14 An interest in the Caucasus and the local processes was also maintained by the fairly influential Caucasian diasporas (Armenian, Chechen, etc.) in many countries.
15 See: Ia. Trofimov, The State, Society, and Religion in Kazakhstan Today, Central Asia and the Caucasus, No. 2 (8), 2001.
16 B. George, NATO, OSCE and Regional Security Issues in Central Asia and the Caucasus, Perceptions, December 1997-February 1998.
17 R. Sokolsky, T. Charlick-Paley, NATO and Caspian Security: A Mission Too Far? Washington, 1999, p. 15.
18 See: Strategic Assessment of Central Eurasia by Charles Fairbanks, C. Richard Nelson, S. Frederick Starr, Kenneth Weisbrode, Washington, January 2001, p. 40.
19 See: Ibidem.
20 R. Sokolsky, T. Charlick-Paley, op. cit., p. 15.
21 Strategic Assessment of Central Eurasia, p. 33.
22 See: Ibid., p. 29.
23 See: Ibid., p. 8.
24 See: Ibid., p. 46.
25 See: Ibid., p. 47.
26 See: A.I. Utkin, Mirovoi poriadok XXI veka, Moscow, 2001, p. 395.
27 Ibidem.
28 It should be noted that the West is gradually demonstrating its need for the Central Eurasian energy potential.

SCImago Journal & Country Rank
UP - E-MAIL