Planned geopolitics for all
text: Oleg Sidorov , exclusively for Gazeta.kz
The events developing on the political arena of Central Asia and Middle East make one re-estimate the initiatives of many states on cooperation in diplomatic and other efforts.
In this case the relations between Central Asian republics are not an exclusion. After the events in Iraq many started to inquire about the politics carried out by Russian Federation, China, and North Korea.
The activation of Beijing in foreign politics is a certain type of a response to the interest taken in China lately by the USA. The great neighbour, who observed the activities of Central Asian countries for a long time, started to come out of the shadow. The foreign political activities of Beijing were also provoked by the actions of Russian Federation in relation to the Central Asian republics.
One will be able to judge how much fruitful were the steps of foreign ministry of Russia only in 3-5 years time. But already now it is obvious that Russia is gradually making corrections in its interests and directing them at Central Asia. It also became more obvious when the agreement on a Russian military base in Kyrgizia was concluded. It should be noted that there already is a military base in Tajikistan. What's that? A wish to protect its own territory from an attack from outside by means of creating buffer zones or to dominate in Central Asia in order to limit the American military influence in the region?
It's interesting that there is a US military base (the antiterrorist coalition) near Bishkek and the Russian one near Kant. This vicinity of military bases of two different states on the territory of the third one shows the competitive character of the military bases. The fact that both American and Russian bases are logically justified by the terrorism abatement on the state level is also important. Currently, Washington also considers a possibility to allocate a military base on the territory of Tajikistan as well. And, as usual, one of the reasons for that - is the terrorism abatement. There is an impression that under this slogan any policy of the national interests protection can be carried out. It appears that the competition for domination on the political Olympus of Central Asia between Russia and USA switched from the latent phase to an open one.
Currently, Russia has much more arguments for an allocation of military bases and an extension of its political and economic influence on Central Asia. Moscow can operate all the interstate alliances (CST, EEU, SCO and others), that until recently were only declarative, or to create a more viable structure on their basis.
Moreover Moscow can use the following arguments that would be able to assist a rapprochement of Central Asian republics between themselves, as well as around Russia:
1. A necessity of political and economic integration as a basis for further favourable development of all Central Asian states. Most probably, Russia will play a decisive role in the current integration process. Its influence in this respect will not be limited to Central Asia, but will extend to Belarus, Ukraine, Armenia. Moreover, Washington will be ready to take measures to not allow a resurrection of an interstate union or a new state on the basis of a firm military block of CIS headed by Russia.
2. A mutual interest of Russia and Central Asian republics in the decrease of tension in the region.
3. Already now Central Asian republics, with a relative economic well-being, are going lower and lower in their economic development.
4. In the conditions of an abrupt weakening of their military capacities Central Asian countries are not able to counteract to the military threat that can come from outside.
5. The system of Central Asian security has been demolished. It means that many Central Asian republics lately perceive themselves as competitors for survival, including their competition for Western and US aid.
6. A tendency to political opposition between the Central Asian countries, including Uzbekistan, in many aspects defines a possibility of a military opposition between various state groupings, first of all between NATO and the military alliances, concluded within CIS.
But apart from these arguments the situation in Central Asia will be forming most probably under the influence of a number of negative, destabilising tendencies. Exactly: the development of centrifugal tendencies, an aggravation of political, economic, national and other contradictions between a number of republics and inside certain states of the region. These processes have a tendency to grow. It is quite probable that in the nearest future a process of separatism will start growing in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, especially in the case that their economic conditions become worse and the governments change.
It should be also mentioned that Central Asian republics ceased to be allies and reached a new level - a competition not only for the domination in the region, but also for the financial and economic aid. Besides, the course of Central Asian countries is basically directed at a political self-isolation, which means a decrease of political stability inside these countries, and in the whole region; it leads to dangerous sources of tension, hidden at first, and then to a direct military conflict on border territories even when the delimitation issues are resolved, because of a rather complicated interstate cooperation in the demarcation of borders.
The situation within Central Asian republics is currently characterised by an instability of democratic processes, because of power accumulation by a limited part of population.
In 1994-2000 Russia, re-orienting its attention from the regional national interests in Caucasus as well as in Central Asia to its own inner political construction remained virtually isolated from any influence on the decision making in the neighbouring republics according to its national interests. Within Russian military forces the troops are currently separated and don't correspond to the strategic situation of the country and the current conditions in Central Asian region. At the same time the opportunities of US military forces when they allocate their military forces in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan grow and they will continue to do so in the nearest future.
If Russian Federation does not take measures on an activation of its activities in Central Asian direction in the nearest future, the military misbalance in this region in the nearest 3-5 years will become more tangible and will not be in favour of Moscow interests.
Already now it is obvious that the strategic target of independent Central Asian states is the following: firstly, there is a necessity to survive in the new political and economic conditions. Secondly, a closer cooperation should be developed between Central Asian countries, as well as with the neighbouring states, including Russia and China. Thirdly, to receive financial and economic aid from Western countries and USA. Fourthly, to reanimate the military cooperation with Russian Federation through a recovery of armaments and education of officers in the higher military institutions of Russia. Fifthly, to strengthen financial institutions of the republics through an establishment of a unitary financial space Russia - Central Asia.
Currently a synchronous urge of Central Asian republics to speed up the integration process and to do it with the help of Russia is obvious. It's quite important to note that the significance of this process is recognised not only by the heads of Russia and Central Asian countries, but also by their ambient that opposed a closer integration of CIS countries for a long time.
If in the nearest future Russian Federation manages to convince Central Asian countries in a necessity to unify militarily and catalyse the unification of financial institutions into the unique space, Washington will have a difficulty with explaining to Central Asian countries the necessity of US military presence on their territories. Especially, taking into consideration the functioning of Russian military bases in the region and a unification of troops under the patronage of Russia.
Besides, if the unitary currency is introduced (which will become a logical completion of the geopolitical union) the efficiency of USD usage between the republics will fall abruptly, which will be quite painful after the Europe switch to Euro and the ousting of the USD off the continent.
Naturally, the next issue on the agenda will be the expediency of the US military base on the territory of Kyrgyzstan, which won't be very pleasant for Pentagon. Beijing with such scenario will only welcome the initiative of Russia and Central Asian countries. It is quite possible that Moscow by its actions is trying to gain revenge for the time lost and the possibilities unrealised in the lobbying of its interests in Central Asian region, but, how smooth the integration is going to be, we'll be able to see only in a few years.
However, already now the extremely complicated mechanism of interstate structures functioning due to ambitions of the governments of republics is becoming obvious although the ambitions grow weaker lately.
If Russia defines its priorities in its foreign policies regarding Central Asia clearly, as well as its tasks and purposes, ways of their resolution that must be not only clear, but transparent, it will help to get rid of many myths surrounding Russia and its politics in Central Asia.
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09.01.2013 2012 marked by multiple events in Kazakhstan