A NEW TURN IN U.S. POLICY IN AFGHANISTAN AND CONCOMITANT RISKS FOR CENTRAL ASIA

Eldar GABDULLIN, Aida ABIROVA


Eldar Gabdullin, Ph.D. (Philos.), Expert, Contemporary Politics Center (TsESOP) (Almaty, Kazakhstan)

Aida Abirova, Expert, Contemporary Politics Center (TsESOP) (Almaty, Kazakhstan)


Introduction

Afghanistan, a front in the struggle against international terror which appeals to radical Islam and a hub of extremism and international crime, can be described without exaggeration as one of the hottest spots on our planet. The country has been and remains the worlds largest drug producer and supplier.

Geographically, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (IRA) is one of the closest southern neighbors of the Central Asian republics; the Tajiks, Uzbeks, and Turkmen who live on both sides of the former Soviet-Afghan border are closely related in ethnic, cultural, and religious terms.

The common ethnic ties broken by Soviet power are gradually being restored, which makes the Afghan developments even more important for Central Asia.

The continued existence of the Taliban, a terrorist organization which has already survived tens years of Americas war on terror, remains the key factor in the country and one of the key factors determining the balance of power in the AfPak zone (an invention of the American political and expert communities who brought Afghanistan and Pakistan together in this abbreviation).

The outcome of the war on the Taliban will affect the Central Asian countries and their security, as well as Europe, South, and East Asia (Russia and China in particular).

The events of 2010-2011 show that the U.S.s Afghan policy has reached a new stage involving new crisis-settlement tactics, the impact of which might extend across the borders.

The Risks for the Heartland

Today, the Central Asian states are open to a wide range of threats and challenges, some of them created by domestic developments, while others are heated up by what is going on outside the regionterrorism, religious extremism, and drug trafficking being the most obvious and the most real threats.

Economic problems and the low standard of living add attraction to radical ideas; the proximity of Afghanistan and the neighboring hot spots on the map of the world (the so-call salient of Islamic instability: the Northern Caucasus, Xinjiang, and Kashmir) make the threat of terrorism and


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