170 CDSDG 09 E rev 1 - An Overview of Security Challenges and Mechanisms of Co-Operation in the Central Asian Region
MARC ANGEL (LUXEMBURG)-RAPPORTEUR
II. REGIONAL CHALLENGES IN CENTRAL ASIA
III. ASSESSMENT OF REGIONAL SECURITY CO-OPERATION IN CENTRAL ASIA
1. In 2008, your Rapporteur presented a report to the Sub-Committee on “Democracy and security in Central Asia: what policies for NATO and the EU?” [156 CDSDG 08 E rev 1]. The report assessed political, economic and social transitions in five Central Asian countries – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan – and presented the evolution of policies undertaken in the region by NATO and the EU. It also contained a brief study of the security challenges the countries of the region face. The present report is intended to resume and develop this analysis of regional security challenges in Central Asia.
2. As the 2008 report pointed out, since the collapse of the Soviet Union and especially since the attacks of September 11 in the United States, Western interest in Central Asia has been increasing. The countries of the region have become significant strategic partners, not only in connection with the stabilisation and reconstruction operations in Afghanistan, but also, more generally, with the effort to combat international terrorism and in the field of energy supply. This increased interest reflects a new awareness among European and North American governments that, in the new post-Cold War and post 9-11 security environment, transatlantic security is also linked to stability in Central Asia. It is, therefore, essential to better understand the nature of potential sources of instability in the region and also the ways Central Asian governments deal with them. This is the primary objective of the present report.
3. The fact is that when the countries of Central Asia acquired independence, the change was accompanied by new threats and challenges. The newly-independent states, in particular, had to take over the control of borders that until that time had been no more than plain administrative boundaries. Organised crime networks and extremist movements were able to take advantage of the initial period of uncertainty so as to establish themselves in the region. Furthermore, the past and present instability in Afghanistan has caused major repercussions throughout the region.
4. This report does not claim to offer an exhaustive analysis of security threats in Central Asia. It will concentrate on a limited number of the more significant challenges: border management, organised crime and drug trafficking, religious extremism and terrorism and the management of water and energy resources.
5. It is worth pointing out here that all the states of the region are not necessarily in the same position in relation to the various challenges. We shall thus endeavour as far as possible to draw the necessary distinctions.
6. Some of the threats that we shall refer to in the report apply equally to other neighbouring states, which are not considered to be part of Central Asia proper. This applies particularly to Afghanistan, which occupies a particular place in terms of Central Asian, and also Pakistani, security. Hence, we shall examine the complex relationship between Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia, and the extent to which it is appropriate to develop more active co-operation on regional security among them.
7. In the years since independence, the countries of the region have set up a large number of initiatives and organisations for regional co-operation. However, as shall be seen, the effectiveness of these structures and their true contribution to the resolution of regional security challenges remain on the whole somewhat limited. Moreover, on the most sensitive matters – in particular on water management – it is very often national interests that take precedence, despite the obvious advantages of a regional solution.
8. The report will begin with a rapid overview of the major regional security challenges, before moving on to look at the co-operative structures set up to deal with them. The mission report from the visit of this Sub-Committee to Tajikistan on 20-22 April 2009 [115 CDSDG 09 E] is a useful supplement to this report.
II. REGIONAL CHALLENGES IN CENTRAL ASIA
A. AFGHANISTAN AND CENTRAL ASIA: AN INTERDEPENDENT RELATIONSHIP
9. In any analysis of regional security challenges in Central Asia, Afghanistan necessarily holds a central place. Very often, the persistent insecurity in Afghanistan is seen by governments in the region as the main source of all security threats in Central Asia. Indeed, there is no denying the impact of the situation in Afghanistan on its neighbours. However, the investment in the stabilisation and reconstruction of Afghanistan also provides an opportunity to lay the foundations of long-term regional co-operation, in which interdependence between Afghanistan and Central Asia would no longer be a basis of tension, but rather a source of opportunities and stability. Although there have been several positive initiatives on a regional scale, for the present we are still far from achieving this objective.
10. As will be seen later, the Taliban take-over in Afghanistan in 1996 and the instability that followed the fall of the regime in 2001 undoubtedly caused negative repercussions in the region. The explosion in opium production and drug trafficking is probably the most obvious of these. The emergence of extremist and terrorist movements in Central Asia at the end of the 1990s was also helped by the favourable environment in neighbouring Afghanistan. However, Afghanistan should not be seen as bearing the sole responsibility for these phenomena. Central Asian governments have come up with responses to these threats that have often proved inappropriate or insufficient. Furthermore, a great deal remains to be done in order to set up a concerted approach to these shared challenges.
11. Central Asian countries have an important role to play in order to back efforts for stabilisation and reconstruction in Afghanistan. They have all already provided significant contributions to military operations in the form of overflight authorisations, agreements for the use of military bases in their territory or transit agreements for freight bound for troops deployed in Afghanistan. It may also be noted that Kazakhstan is considering sending a medical team and posting a small number of officers at the headquarters of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
Air bases and refuelling points:
A French air detachment is operating from Dushanbe airport in Tajikistan, providing tactical and logistical support for operations by French troops and the ISAF in Afghanistan.
German forces use the Termez air base in Uzbekistan as a refuelling centre. Since March 2008 the German air force has been authorised to use the Karchi-Khanabad air base again; the coalition forces had been forced to evacuate this base after the events in Andijan in May 2005. Lastly, an agreement announced early in 2009 between the Uzbek government and Korean Air for the use of the Navoi airport also makes it possible to transport non-military freight bound for coalition forces.
13. However, this increase in interest in routing equipment through Central Asia raises a number of problems. Examples include the difficulties involved in the necessity for simultaneous negotiation with several partners, or the multiplicity of costs involved in the various agreements. The recent attention directed towards Central Asia is not without its dangers. The opening of these new transport routes must be associated with a drive for better border crossing control, to prevent the improvements in road and rail infrastructure being exploited by drug traffickers or other forms of organised crime. Some observers maintain that a greater cause for concern is that the combined effect of growing military pressure by coalition forces in the south of Afghanistan and by the Pakistani army in the frontier areas, and the establishment of these new transport routes, are responsible for the present resurgence of violence in the northern Afghanistan provinces. The creation of a new area of instability in Central Asia in the long run as a result of this situation, must be avoided at all costs.
14. Some Central Asian governments have established bilateral military co-operation with Afghanistan, in addition to their support for coalition operations. Thus the Tajik authorities have informed members of the Sub-Committee that the Defence Minister had set up a training project for a small number of Afghan Army officers. In addition, countries in the region contribute in varying degrees to the reconstruction drive in Afghanistan and to the development of cross-border infrastructure (bridges, roads, railways, energy projects, etc.). In this regard, Kazakhstan’s Government Action Plan for aid to Afghanistan deserves a special mention; it yielded $3 million in 2007-2008 to fund projects for training Afghan security forces and for reconstruction – including schools and other social services. A contribution of $5 million is anticipated in 2009-2011.
15. Nonetheless, as will be seen later, co-operation between Afghanistan and Central Asian countries on the challenges of common security such as border management, drug trafficking or water management, remains limited on the whole. The same applies to co-operation with Pakistan. It would also be desirable for economic relations to be developed between these seven countries, perhaps starting with modest projects concentrated in border areas. Afghanistan and Pakistan are still all too rarely included in regional initiatives. Given their direct interest in the stability of Afghanistan and the region, it would be worthwhile for both NATO and the EU to promote as far as possible more active co-operation between Afghanistan, Pakistan and their Northern neighbours, for such co-operation would necessarily be beneficial to all concerned. However, one cannot ignore the reluctance of certain governments in the region to see Central Asia’s specificity diluted in broader structures which would include Afghanistan and Pakistan. Kazakh authorities in particular emphasize the unique position of their country as a bridge between Europe and Asia.
B. BORDER SECURITY IN CENTRAL ASIA
16. Border security is one of the principal challenges that the countries of the region have to face. The years immediately before and after attaining independence - following the dissolution of the USSR - were marked by a certain gap between on the one hand growing trans-border threats and on the other inadequate border control capabilities. This situation created a context that has been favourable to the development of trans-border criminal networks.
17. One of the first challenges the countries of the region faced in the period immediately following independence was that of defining their borders. The administrative limits between the Central Asian republics were established on largely arbitrary lines in the 1920s. As a result, several communities or ethnic groups found themselves split on either side of the new borders. So independence could have led to territorial irredentism or sizeable displacements of population. Fortunately, border questions were settled without any violence. However, there remain several doubtful areas, in particular in the Ferghana Valley between Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, and these are still a potential source of tension between states in the region. A number of sections of this frontier were mined by Uzbekistan after incursions by extremist groups in 19992000. Demining operations have been initiated since then, but mines still regularly claim victims in the area. Another unresolved question is the matter of sharing the waters of the Caspian Sea, which concerns two states in the region: Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan.
18. Under the USSR, the administrative borders between Central Asian republics were controlled by Russian frontier guards. With independence, the new states of the region had to establish their own national border-control institutions. To this end, they benefited from sustained international assistance, both from Russia and from Euro-Atlantic institutions. Despite this, the setting-up of border-guard units sometimes came about several years after independence, and most of these borders were not effectively under control until the end of the 1990s. On the 1 344 km (835 miles) border between Afghanistan and Tajikistan, the transfer of border protection tasks from Russia to the Tajik authorities began only in 2004. On the whole, the control of these borders remains less than perfect, in so far as the task for the governments of the region is made especially complicated by the hostile terrain.
19. This situation contributed to the appearance of organised crime networks during the period of relative instability that immediately preceded and followed the collapse of the USSR. Of particular concern for the governments of the region was the establishment of religiously-motivated extremist movements, which became the major priority in their policies for border control and protection. Such fears were only accentuated by the Taliban take-over in Afghanistan in 1996 and then the attacks of September 11. Indeed, it is acknowledged that the Taliban regime allowed the Central Asian extremist movements to take refuge on Afghan territory. Central Asian governments continue to fear the Islamist threat from Afghanistan, as well as, increasingly, from Pakistan. However they have understood the overriding necessity of strengthening cooperation with Kabul and Islamabad on these matters. The Tajikistan experience of civil war in the 1990s is increasing the authorities’ fear of incursions by religious extremist movements destabilising the situation in the country. Nevertheless Tajikistan is the only country in the region to allow an openly religious party to be represented in Parliament.
20. The real strength of today’s Central Asian radical extremist movements is hard to assess with any degree of precision. There is a shortage of sound and independent intelligence on such groups, the exact numbers of their adepts, or the links established between them. In this Sub-Committee’s 2008 Report, your Rapporteur tentatively presented some of the main movements that are active in the region, in particular the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and HizbutTahrir (HT)1.
21. The IMU was largely dislocated after the fall of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan in 2001. Nonetheless, several observers refer to signs of a resurgence of the movement (which took advantage of instability on the Afghan-Pakistani border to rebuild its forces2) and the risk of a gradual return by the movement to Central Asia. The Tajik and Kyrgyz governments have accused the IMU of being responsible for an explosion in front of the Tajik Ministry for Emergency Situations in June 2005 and for attacks on border posts in May 2006. More recently the Kyrghyz, Tajik and Uzbek governments have announced that police operations in the summer of 2009 revealed the presence of groups of IMU militants in their territory. Several recent incidents3 - IMU responsibility for which, however, is not proven – have made the governments of the region more fearful of an upsurge in extremist movements.
22. In 2002, a group of former IMU fighters set up the Union for Islamic Jihad (UIJ). It is likely that the group is also based in Pakistan, and has probably developed a network structure and links to al-Qaeda. The UIJ has claimed responsibility in particular for suicide-bombings in Tashkent and Bukhara in March and April 2004, which killed 47, though the Uzbek government attributed them to the IMU. It is thought that the UIJ even planned attacks in Western Europe. Several of its members were arrested in September 2007 and September 2008 in Germany, where they were planning attacks.
23. Unlike the IMU and the UIJ, HT preaches non-violent action. Although it is banned in all the countries of the region, it is perhaps the most influential of the Islamist movements. The group is present in more than 40 countries throughout the world. Its declared aim is to establish a great Islamic Caliphate, which would rule over all Muslim-populated areas.
24. Other extremist movements occasionally break surface, such as the Islamic Movement of Eastern Turkestan, or also the Akramiya group, which, according the Uzbek authorities, was responsible for the Andijan uprising in 2005, though little is known of it.
25. The governments of the region have adopted essentially repressive policies to cope with the threat from the various extremist movements. After September 11, they also saw these policies in the framework of the international effort to combat terrorism undertaken by the United States and their allies. Regional co-operation projects were also set up, aiming in particular to strengthen border security. Such initiatives provided a helpful though limited response to the threats from extremist movements in the region. Co-operation should also be reinforced in other areas – prevention, police co-operation etc. A fundamental requirement is to develop an in-depth dialogue with Afghanistan and Pakistan on these matters4. Furthermore, security requirements have to be balanced against the needs of trans-border trade, which is vital for many parts of the region.
26. Besides the threat from extremist movements and terrorism, other challenges should not be forgotten in connection with border management in Central Asia, especially human trafficking and the risk of the proliferation of materials and technology for chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons. Above all, it should be said that, more than all the other threats, it is drug trafficking that is the most urgent and complex in the field of border security in the region.
C. DRUG TRAFFICKING: THE NEED FOR A CONCERTED APPROACH WITH AFGHANISTAN5
27. According to data from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), poppy cultivation and opium production in Central Asia is minimal; over 99% of opiates in the region originate in Afghanistan. There are also no known heroin production facilities in Central Asia. Consequently, all opiates transiting countries of the region are either drugs, which have been cultivated and processed in Afghanistan, or opium which will be further processed elsewhere.
28. The value of the drug trade originating in Afghanistan was estimated at around US$3.4 bn in 2008. Afghanistan alone accounts for 90% of the world’s supply of opiates. The instability that has followed the overthrow of the Taliban regime, as well as delays in adopting an effective counter-narcotics strategy, have allowed the drugs business to flourish since 2001. In turn, the drug trade is widely believed to feed the insurgency and thereby perpetuate instability, particularly in the southern part of the country. Ninety-nine percent of the Afghan opium is grown in just seven provinces in the south-west (Helmand, Kandahar, Uruzgan, Farah, Badghis, Day Kundi and Nimroz), which are also the strongholds of the Taliban insurgency. Helmand province alone accounts for 57% of opium poppy cultivation, despite a reduction of one-third in its cultivation in that province between 2008 and 2009.
29. Nevertheless, some progress has been achieved in recent years. UNODC data for 2008 and 2009 shows several positive trends, which can be attributed in part to government action, but is also a result of weather conditions. The opium trade shrank by 19% in 2008, and again by 22% in 2009, in terms of the area cultivated and 6% and 10% respectively in terms of production, an evolution due mainly to the reduction seen in Helmand province. The number of poppy-free provinces reached 20 out of 34 - from 13 in 2007 and only six in 2006. Another positive evolution is a significant reduction in the opium to wheat ratio in terms of the expected gross income per hectare: from a ratio of 27 to 1 in 2003 to 3 to 1 today. The UNODC estimates that 800,000 Afghans stopped all work connected with opium production in 2008.
30. Whether these are lasting trends and will extend to the southern provinces remains to be seen. The drug trade remains a serious challenge to stability, not only in Afghanistan, but in the entire region. Developments in Afghanistan have had negative repercussions in neighbouring countries of Central Asia in terms of drug flows and organised crime, as well as in terms of drug use.
31. Central Asia is one of the three main routes through which Afghan opiates are trafficked. According to the UNODC, the largest share of Afghanistan’s illicit drug exports transit on the “Western Route” through Iran. The “Southern Route” through Pakistan comes next, followed by the “Northern Route” through Central Asia, which, according to the UNODC receives between five and 22% of the value of Afghan illicit drug exports. UNODC estimates that in 2008, 121 tons of heroin and 293 tons of opium were smuggled through Central Asia.
32. In addition to the trafficking of drugs, the trafficking of chemical precursors is of growing regional concern. Transforming raw opium into heroin requires the early addition of chemical precursors. As Afghanistan does not produce these chemicals, large volumes of illicit precursors required for the conversion of opium must be smuggled in from other countries. Central Asia’s borders with China and Afghanistan are particularly vulnerable to precursor trafficking.
33. While the drug trade in Central Asia was until recently relatively unstructured, several indicators - larger seizures, trafficking in chemical precursors - seem to point to a growing involvement of organised crime groups. Thus, in 2005, Kazakhstan reportedly interdicted 14 of these criminal groups involved in drug trafficking. This worrying trend is another clear illustration of the need for a regional response to the drug issue.
34. The rise of drug trafficking from Afghanistan has also resulted in an increase in drug abuse rates in countries of the region. Demand in Iran is skyrocketing. The number of drug users there is estimated between 2 and 5 million. Related to the size of the population (about 70 million), this is one of the highest rates of drug addiction in the world. In Russia, official estimates indicate that there are some 2.5 million drug users. China, in turn, has over 2 million drugs users. The UNODC estimates that a quarter of the drugs trafficked through Central Asia remain there for domestic consumption; there are an estimated 280,000 drug users in the region. Also according to the UNODC, drug abuse is more widespread and growing faster in Kazakhstan than in any other Central Asian state6. Recent trends indicate in particular an increase in heroin use. According to the UNODC: “The easy availability of cheap heroin has changed the pattern of abuse and led to growing intravenous use of heroin, and to a lesser extent opium, creating serious problems with HIV/AIDS due to unsafe injecting practices.”7 Rates of HIV/AIDS in Central Asia are indeed increasing rapidly, although overall levels remain lower than in Russia or Ukraine. According to UNAIDS estimates, the number of people infected with HIV in the region stands at around 52,000.
35. Drug trafficking in the region thus creates a number of serious challenges for Central Asian governments. Because of the impact of the Afghan drug production on developments in the region, there is a high risk that drugs may become a major source of tensions between the Central Asian and Afghan governments. The cross-border nature of the drug trade clearly calls for a regional response, and there is significant scope for such a co-operation, particularly in terms of border management.
36. Enhancing border controls and law enforcement capabilities is crucial, particularly for Afghanistan’s immediate neighbours - Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Border management is an enormous challenge given that Central Asia’s borders with Afghanistan represent close to 2,400 km of difficult terrain - Tajikistan’s border with Afghanistan alone is 1,344 km. The majority of law enforcement agencies in Central Asia are hampered by a widespread lack of resources, as well as training and equipment shortfalls. As a result, only a small fraction – some 3% - of the amount of drugs transiting through the region is seized there, with Tajikistan responsible for the largest share of these seizures8. Enhancing border interdiction capacities will bring additional benefits not just for drug control but also in terms of improved security against terrorism, smuggling of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs), small arms, human beings, and various other illegal activities.
37. Co-ordination, both internal and regional, must be improved. During its visit to Dushanbe the Sub-Committee learned that, in addition to the Drug Control Agency, specialised units of the Interior Ministry, the State Security Commission, the Customs Commission and the department for border control, share responsibilities in combating drug trafficking. Keeping in mind the limited resources available to countries in the region, it is all the more important to avoid duplication, or even competition, among institutions and to set up clear co-ordination machinery. Better internal co-ordination will also make it easier to establish regional co-operation. The Dushanbe Conference on border management and the fight against drug trafficking under the auspices of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the European Union called for the nomination of international co-ordinators to maintain links with regional and international partners.
38. Greater attention should also be given to flows of precursors. According to the UNODC, Central Asian law enforcement officials do not consider the detection of precursor smuggling an operational priority. Additionally, a significant portion of border officials have no precursor training and lack sufficient knowledge for their detection.
39. Finally, the prevention and treatment of drug abuse should also receive greater priority. Here again, regional initiatives could usefully complement existing national policies.
D. WATER MANAGEMENT, ENERGY CHALLENGES AND FOOD SECURITY9
40. One of the most complex regional challenges is that of the management of water resources. There are two main reasons for this. First, because in this respect the states of the region are caught up in a relationship of asymmetrical interdependence, which, if it is badly managed, risks causing major political tensions. Secondly, because water management is closely connected on the one hand to energy and on the other to agriculture, and so as a result to food security. The grave crisis that several of the countries of the region went through in the winter of 2007-2008 - which arose again during the winter of 2008-2009 – showed that the dynamics currently at work in the region regarding these three factors, are not viable in the long term.
41. Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan both possess sizeable water reserves derived from the glaciers above the Central Asian plateau – or some 90% of the region’s water resources. Water is the main source of energy in both countries, which have very little fossil energy available. Two dams – Toktogul in Kyrgyzstan on the Naryn, an affluent of the Syr Darya, and Nurek in Tajikistan, on the Vakhsh, an affluent of the Amu Darya – alone produce virtually all the electricity in these two countries.
42. On the contrary, those countries that are downstream, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, have considerable fossil fuel resources, but need water for the irrigation of their crops, essentially cotton and wheat. Consequently, water requirements in Kyrgystan and Tajikistan are concentrated mostly in winter, when energy consumption, especially for heating, is at its height, while in the countries downstream, demand is at its highest in summer.
43. During the Soviet era, the countries of the region had made an arrangement under which upstream hydroelectric plants were mainly used for irrigating agriculture in the downstream countries during the summer. In exchange, these countries supplied Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan with fossilfuel energy at preferential rates.
44. This agreement rapidly fell apart after the collapse of the USSR, and, so far, the countries of the region have proved incapable of reaching agreement on the principles of joint long-term management of water resources. They have only been able to reach short-term “water-for-energy” agreements. Given what is at stake and the highly political nature of the question, it is easy to see how no local leader wishes to stand out as the one who sold off the country’s natural resources too cheaply.
45. The risks associated with this situation emerged very clearly during the winter of 2007-2008 in a context bringing together a number of unfavourable factors: a particularly cold winter, which drove the Tajik and Kyrgyz governments to draw on their dam reservoirs to meet their energy needs, and impose sizeable electricity cuts; a period of flooding, followed by exceptional drought in the spring and summer of 2008, which drove up the demand for water in downstream agricultural irrigation; and finally the rising prices of food products and energy, which hit the most vulnerable sections of the population.
46. All these factors gave rise to a serious crisis. The reservoirs at Toktogul and Nurek, and also the main tributaries of the Syr Darya and Amu Darya, reached levels at the end of 2008 among the lowest in historical terms. Energy production fell by 18.5% in Kyrgyzstan during the first 11 months of 2008, and by 8% in Tajikistan over the year. This decline was, however, partially compensated for by increased energy imports from neighbouring countries. The growth in industrial production in both Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan was non-existent, even negative. Finally, the crisis in food supply in both countries was accentuated. The World Food Programme (WFP) considers that some 1.5 million people suffer from food insecurity in Tajikistan.
47. Despite relatively more favourable conditions, this scenario was repeated in part during the winter of 2008-2009; Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan were short of water and electricity and had to impose electricity rationing and rely on energy imports from neighbouring countries. Abundant rainfall in the spring of 2009 raised the level in the dam reservoirs, particularly in Tajikistan. On the contrary, in Kyrgyzstan the water level in the Toktogul reservoir is still well below the historical averages, and still lower than in 2008. Electricity rationing measures have already been put in place by the Kyrghyz government this autumn, in preparation for the winter.
48. While the 2008 crisis may be considered to have been exceptional, the United Nations Development Programme’s view is that it merely revealed underlying problems and showed that the present situation is not sustainable in the long term. Thus a steady rise in prices for food and energy can be seen in the region, despite a downward trend at the world level. In addition, the effects of the world financial and economic crisis are hitting the economies of the region – particularly in the form of a reduction in remittances to migrant workers, contraction in exports and a slowdown in growth – and are likely to make an already difficult position even worse. In the long term, the region will have to cope with the consequences of climate change and the melting of the high mountain glaciers. Experts say this tendency is already perceptible. The United Nations anticipates that climate change might involve a drop in the rate of flow of the Syr Darya and the Amu Darya of 30 and 40% respectively between now and 2050.
49. Unless the governments of the region set about solving these chronic problems, an even more serious crisis cannot be discounted, taking the form of political and social instability in the most fragile countries and increased regional tensions.
50. On this complex matter of water and energy, only a regional plan can provide a solution.10 Efforts at mediation have been set in motion by various international institutions, in particular the United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy. Unfortunately, stubborn disagreements among governments in the region have harmed recent attempts to reach an agreement. Thus the agreement signed by the Heads of State and Government of the region at the Commonwealth of Independent States summit in Bishkek in October 2008 has become a dead letter.
51. The main stumbling blocks are the new hydroelectric projects by the upstream countries - the Rogun dam and the Sangtuda hydroelectric power station in Tajikistan11 and the Kambarata hydroelectric power station in Kyrgyzstan12. Although Bishkek and Dushanbe see these projects as a solution to their energy shortfall and emphasise the potential advantages for the entire region, the downstream countries - led by Uzbekistan - lay stress on the risks of such projects to their economies and to the environment, and claim a right to monitor the use of the region’s shared natural resources.
52. Regional efforts to save the Aral Sea have had some success, but here also much remains to be done. The diversion during the Soviet period of the Amu Darya and Syr Darya for irrigation has caused the Aral Sea, downstream between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, to dry out rapidly, with devastating effects on the environment and the local economy. The sea lost two-thirds of its surface area between 1960 and 2004 and split in two in 1990. The rise of the level of salinity and pollution have led to the almost complete disappearance of marine fauna and flora. The International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea, established in 1993, is the main body for regional coordination. However, the Fund continues to suffer from the lack of commitment of governments in the region. The principal success to report is a start on restoring the northern part of the Aral Sea. The construction of a dyke in 2005 between the northern and southern parts has led to a rise in the water level and to restoration of the marine ecosystem in the northern part, to a certain extent. Generally, however, the southern part is still a disaster area. Moreover, experts fear that global warming may reverse the positive but nonetheless fragile trends seen in the northern part. The Summit of Heads of State of the Fund (the first of this type since 2002) held in Almaty in April 2009 was an opportunity to breathe new life into regional efforts to save the Aral Sea. However, the joint final statement contains little of substance beyond restating support for the work of the Fund. Moreover, the Summit was dominated by disagreements between governments in the region on the management of water resources and the development of new hydroelectric projects in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.
53. The international community must continue its efforts to arrive at a lasting settlement of these issues. Better co-ordination of initiatives in this area would be desirable. It would also be useful to include Afghanistan in these discussions. It has substantial water resources (several affluents of the Amu Darya rise there), but also has growing energy requirements. The project for a Central Asia-Southern Asia energy market, providing for 1000-megawatt energy transfers between Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan, should be mentioned in this connection.
54. Eventually, the governments of the region will also have to implement important internal reforms, to prevent and to respond to these energy crises. In several countries of the region, the opening of the energy sector to competition has been very limited, and the sector is still largely state-run. Measures would also be necessary for improving monitoring and the quality and security of the oldest hydroelectric installations. In addition, water and energy use is particularly inefficient. Water consumption in the countries of the region is one of the highest in the world; thus, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Turkmenistan consumes ten times as much water per capita as China or Russia, and the other countries of the region four times as much. This is essentially due to the needs of crop irrigation, but also to poor management and losses associated with the poor quality of the infrastructure. Effort is therefore required to promote more rational and efficient use of resources. Finally, it will be necessary to reduce the degree to which upstream countries depend on a small number of hydroelectric power stations, and to promote more diverse energy sources. Thus Tajikistan uses only 5% of its water resources. Building small-scale hydroelectric power stations and increasing the use of renewable energy sources could be alternatives or a useful complement to large-scale dam projects.
55. The states of the region are linked by a variety of initiatives and structures for co-operation that have been progressively set up since the collapse of the USSR: bilateral or multilateral initiatives; informal or institutionalised forms of co-operation; purely regional initiatives (bringing together the five Central Asian countries) or of a broader nature (also including other countries); general or specialised co-operation fora. Here we shall be solely concerned with regional projects of which at least one of the objectives is the establishment of security co-operation.
56. A rapid assessment of these forms of co-operation leads to four main conclusions :
57. But this does not mean that there are no purely regional initiatives, or that these are of no significance. Among the successes of regional co-operation, particular mention should be made of the establishment of a nuclear weapons-free area in Central Asia. This project, launched with an agreement between the five countries in 2006, entered into force at the end of March 2009. It consolidates the denuclearisation of the region initiated by Kazakhstan’s historic decision to renounce control over the nuclear weapons stationed on its territory at the time of the dissolution of the Soviet Union and to close the Semipalatinsk test site.
58. Nonetheless, the most active and best structured initiatives in the security field are based on partnership with third countries or supraregional organisations. The following sections give a rapid overview of the CSTO and SCO, and also an example of a regional project based on an international initiative.
CSTO and SCO: the two main security organisations in Central Asia
59. The CSTO, created initially under the influence of the Commonwealth of independent States, brings together Russia, four of the Central Asian states (Turkmenistan does not participate), Armenia and Belarus. The organisation, largely steered by Moscow, provides a framework for integrated political and military co-operation among its members. The declared ambition of the Russian authorities to make the CSTO a full-fledged collective defence and security organisation has taken the form of a series of initiatives aimed at strengthening it. Its activities have also increasingly focused on security challenges in Central Asia, mainly terrorism and drug trafficking. The CSTO has for instance established an anti-terrorism centre in Central Asia. In 2001, CSTO members also agreed to establish a Collective Rapid Deployment Force for Central Asia of some 4,000 troops.
60. In February 2009, CSTO member states also announced the establishment of rapid reaction forces, which should eventually number some 15,000 troops. Their mandate is defined very broadly: to defend member states against military aggression, conduct anti-terrorist operations, fight transnational crime and drug trafficking, and respond to natural disasters. CSTO member states also announced plans to create air defence networks for Belarus, Armenia and Central Asia.
61. The CSTO’s build-up reflects Russia’s ambition to create a sort of NATO equivalent in what it considers as its zone of influence. The CSTO’s transformation also fits with the proposals put forward by President Medvedev for a new security architecture in Europe.13
62. However, the central Asian countries have not always followed Moscow in its ambitions. In this regard, the Georgian crisis in the summer of 2008 provided an interesting test. While formally supporting Russia’s military intervention, CSTO member states have not gone as far as following Russia’s example and recognising Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states.
63. Similarly the rapid reaction forces project has encountered reluctance on the part of Uzbekistan (and of Belarus14), which did not sign the June 2009 Moscow agreement making creation of these forces official. In particular, Tashkent has declared its opposition in principle to the use of these forces to resolve internal crises in CSTO countries or the CIS. Indeed, doubts remain as to the circumstances in which these forces would be deployed. In addition, the precise composition of these forces and the contributions of participating states other than Russia still have to be defined. Lastly, the Moscow agreement still has to be ratified by the Parliaments of the CSTO countries. Nevertheless the first joint exercise by the new rapid reaction forces was held in Kazakhstan early in October 2009, with some 7,000 troops participating.
64. The second main security-oriented organisation in the region is the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation. The SCO brings all Central Asian states – except for Turkmenistan – together with China and Russia. India, Pakistan, Mongolia and Iran have the status of observers with the organisation. The SCO’s mandate is somewhat broader than that of the CSTO, as it includes not only military and security co-operation, but also economic co-operation. The organisation’s more diverse membership also means that its members often have divergent ambitions and agendas for it; this is true in particular of the organisation’s two “heavyweights”, Russia and China.
65. The SCO’s main focus is what its members generally refer to as the fight against “terrorism, extremism and separatism”. All SCO members perceive these as a serious threat to internal security15. The SCO also serves as a forum to legitimise their national policies in these fields and deflect Western criticism. However, the SCO’s actual contribution to enhancing the capability of states in the region to deal with common security challenges is still relatively limited. The SCO, as the CSTO, established an anti-terrorist centre in Central Asia – based in Tashkent. SCO members have also developed certain activities to curb drug trafficking and organised crime, and have agreed on terms for mutual assistance in case of natural disasters and other emergencies. In contrast, military co-operation and integration has been limited, relying mainly on regular military exercises.
66. The issue of SCO enlargement is regularly raised by some of its member states, led by Russia. Other governments are not in favour, and ask for clear criteria for candidature to be established before any lifting of the moratorium on new memberships currently in force. The organisation has recently set up a committee to consider the issue. Iran in particular has indicated an interest in joining the SCO. This would certainly bring major changes to the organisation.
67. The SCO has also been developing relations with Afghanistan. At the SCO special conference on Afghanistan in March 2009, member states – excluding Uzbekistan, which is not in favour of recognising an SCO role in this area and so did not attend this conference – adopted a joint action plan with the Afghan government on combating terrorism, drug trafficking and organised crime. This initiative is certainly to be welcomed; as mentioned earlier in this report, greater co-operation between Afghanistan and its neighbours in addressing regional challenges is seriously needed. These developments might explain why the US government decided, for the first time in March 2009, to send an official representative to an SCO summit. This could indicate Washington’s willingness to consider engaging more closely with the organisation. The SCO’s greater focus on Afghanistan is arguably of particular interest to the US administration16.
68. The Central Asian Regional Information and Coordination Centre (CARICC) provides an interesting example of a regional initiative established with the support of a supraregional organisation, in this case the UNODC. CARICC grew out of the Memorandum of Understanding on subregional drug control co-operation signed in 1996 by the five Central Asian states, together with Azerbaijan, Russia and the UNODC. CARICC’s founding documents were adopted in 2006, and the organisation started functioning first as a pilot project in November 2007. The CARICC agreement entered into force in March 2009 after its ratification by five founding countries (Azerbaijan and four Central Asian countries). The remaining two founding members – Russia and Uzbekistan – have signed the agreement but still have to ratify it. The Centre is also open for accession to other parties. CARICC aims in particular at establishing co-operation channels with neighbouring countries – Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and China.
69. The aim of CARICC is to serve as the main regional communication centre for analysis and exchange of information on transnational crime in real time, as well as a centre for the organisation and co-ordination of joint operations. The Centre will provide a framework for co-operation among all relevant law enforcement agencies in its member states - Ministries of Internal Affairs, Border Control bodies, Customs, National Security bodies and specialised drug control agencies - with the purpose of preventing and countering illicit drug trafficking and the associated international organised crime. Liaison officers designated by each member state will help ensure co-operation between CARICC and their national authorities.
70. CARICC is thus largely a regionally-owned project. However, the UNODC played a key role in its establishment and continues to provide funding for it as part of its “Rainbow Strategy”, a set of projects aiming to provide a regional solution to the fight against drug trafficking in Afghanistan and the neighbouring countries.17
71. Apart from the UNODC, and among the supraregional organisations that are active in Central Asia, mention should be made of the important part played by the OSCE. The five countries of the region are members of this organisation, and the OSCE has fielded missions in each of them. These missions implement a large number of programmes in the security area. The future Kazakh presidency of the OSCE, in 2010, should, in fact, give a new momentum to the activities of the organisation in the region, while demonstrating the contribution Central Asia can make to Euro-Atlantic security.
72. Special reference should also be made to the United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy in Central Asia (UNRCCA) in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. Established on the initiative of regional governments in 2007, the aim of this United Nations mission, headed by a Special Representative of the Secretary-General, is to help the states in the region to enhance their capacity to prevent conflicts and to face challenges to common security together, to facilitate dialogue, to keep track of developments in the region so as to identify potential risks and threats as early as possible and recommend appropriate action, and lastly to mobilise international aid in a co-ordinated manner. The Centre has set itself three priority areas for 2009-2011: cross-frontier threats linked to unlawful activities (terrorism, organised crime, drug trafficking); environmental damage and the management of common resources such as water and energy and the impact of insecurity in Afghanistan. Although the Centre has been in place but a short time, it has already made its mark as a major player in the region. One of the benefits accruing from this initiative is its potential contribution to better co-ordination of international aid in the region, or at least greater synergy among the various elements of international action.
73. Lastly, mention should be made of the planned establishment of a regional coordination centre for disaster response and risk reduction in Central Asia, a project initiated by Kazakhstan in 2005 and developed in cooperation with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Kazakhstan is also considering maintaining several humanitarian warehouses on its territory. Central Asia is regularly affected by a variety of natural disasters. A more active regional cooperation in this field would thus be a welcome development.
74. Useful initiatives have been undertaken in the abovementioned fields, but it should be noted that there are a number of problems. The areas of competence of the various organisations are sometimes ill-defined, which can give the impression of a certain duplication (as for example between the CSTO and the SCO in regard to combating terrorism or drug trafficking). Furthermore, on border control and action against drug trafficking, a plethora of initiatives has been set up, but often without adequate co-ordination. In this sense, the international conference at Dushanbe in October 2008 on border management and action against drug trafficking in Central Asia, and which brought together all the governments and organisations concerned, is a welcome initiative. It is now necessary to set about applying the principles laid out in the final declaration, in particular the call to reinforce the co-ordination of international assistance “in order to create synergies and avoid duplication of activities both at a national and regional level, thus enabling co-operation between donors in the initial planning phase”.
75. Another problem arises from the way regional co-operation in some of these fields - especially action against terrorism and religious extremism - relies on national policies that are not always well-suited; in other fields - border control and combating drug trafficking - the countries of the region should consolidate the relevant national institutions. This shows how important it is to establish real synergy between national policies and regional co-operation.
76. Generally speaking, doubts persist as to the efficacy of certain regional structures and the degree to which they truly enable the states of the region to confront the main challenges identified in the preceding section.
77. Finally, in other essential areas, in particular water management, it is not really possible to speak of regional co-operation. It is more a matter of temporary and ad hoc structures, which are regularly called into question.
III. There are several obstacles to a higher degree of regional security co-operation.
78. Amongst these, it is worth noting in particular:
– rivalries between states in the region and competition between some of them as to which should play the part of regional leader (this is especially the case between Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan);
IV. Apart from the development of structures for regional co-operation, the states of the region have sought to cope with regional challenges through the establishment of partnerships with Euro-Atlantic institutions, in particular the EU and NATO.
79. This Sub-Committee’s 2008 Report (156 CDSDG 08 E rev 1.) includes an in-depth analysis of the partnerships set up by the EU and NATO with the five countries of Central Asia. It should be recalled that in their relationships with the governments of the region, the two organisations have given precedence to bilateral co-operation. Nonetheless, the EU and NATO have also promoted regional security initiatives. Two practical examples may be worth mentioning.
80. The first relates to co-operation set up in the framework of the NATO-Russia Council for training personnel from Afghanistan and Central Asia in combating drug trafficking. This initiative began in December 2005, and is implemented in co-operation with UNODC. It includes a series of training courses in centres of excellence in Turkey and Russia, as also in the six target countries. In the spring of 2009, more than 750 officers had already been through the training programme, including over 600 trained at the Turkish International Academy against Drugs and Organised Crime.
81. The European Union’s Border Management Programme in Central Asia (BOMCA) provides another interesting example of how Euro-Atlantic institutions can assist Central Asian states in addressing regional security challenges. The overall objectives of the BOMCA programme are to encourage Central Asian states to adopt the principles and practices of a European-style Integrated Border Management (IBM) approach, to contribute to the facilitation of legitimate trade and transit and to reduce the illicit movement of goods and people. IBM includes three main dimensions: intra-service, inter-agency and cross-border co-operation between Central Asian border management agencies. To achieve this, BOMCA provides training and assistance for institutional reform and the enhancement of infrastructure capacities along trade and transit corridors in Central Asia.
82. It may also be recalled that the EU strategy for Central Asia in 2007 allows for the setting up of a dialogue between the EU and Central Asia on common security threats. In this framework, a first “EU-Central Asia Forum on security challenges” was held at ministerial level in Paris in September 2008. The joint declaration adopted there establishes a certain number of priorities for the future, especially as regards combating terrorism, stabilisation and reconstruction in Afghanistan, combating trafficking in weaponry, sensitive materials, narcotics and human beings; and co-operation on energy, the use of natural resources and on the environment.
83. The above analysis shows that the countries of Central Asia are facing serious challenges to their common security, to which the regional structures that they have set up still offer a limited response. The September 11 attacks and the stabilisation and reconstruction operations in Afghanistan have graphically shown that the interests of governments in Europe and North America would be well served by helping governments in Central Asia to deal with threats to stability in the region. In your Rapporteur’s opinion, this aid should be concentrated on several basic approaches.
84. All too often the relationship between Afghanistan and Central Asia is reduced to a one-way negative equation: instability in Afghanistan as a source of threats to Central Asia. In fact it is really a question of interdependence; this should be used as a basis for establishing positive interaction between Afghanistan and Central Asia, in which Pakistan should also share. The Allied governments would be well advised to support efforts directed towards more active co-operation among these countries. Moreover, the Alliance countries should match increased support by Central Asian governments to military operations in Afghanistan by increased aid in border management and combating drug trafficking to prevent at all costs a northward shift in the area of instability.
85. Conflict prevention in Central Asia should be the subject of sustained attention and a global approach. Energy and humanitarian crises during the last two winters have underlined the necessity for simultaneous action on potential sources of instability in order to avert crises: the political context – and in particular weaknesses in governance and potential sources of political instability – the economic context – and in particular the repercussions of the world economic and financial crisis on the region, the social context – the fight against poverty, human development, and the management of natural resources in a context of climate change. To be effective, such a global approach calls for fuller co-ordination of international action in Central Asia. In this respect the establishment of the United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy in Central Asia should be welcomed, and its activities - particularly its role as a “traffic controller” for international aid - should be encouraged.
86. Apart from the military operations in Afghanistan, NATO’s actual and potential contribution to security in Central Asia is unrecognised in the region, and many prejudices remain regarding the nature and actio, , ns of the Alliance. The information campaign at all levels should be stepped up. In this respect, holding simultaneously the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council Security Forum and the NATO PA Rose-Roth seminar in Astana in June 2009 and for the first time in a Central Asian country is to be welcomed. Other initiatives, such as the organisation of the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre’s annual exercise in Kazakhstan in September 2009 should help to publicise the positive aspects of the partnership between Central Asian countries and the Alliance. At the same time the limits of NATO action in Central Asia must be recognised; these depend in particular on the interest of countries in the region in partnership with the Alliance.
87. Approaches which involve dealing with security problems in Central Asia in terms of spheres of influence or bloc-to-bloc relationships should be rejected. Common synergies between NATO and certain regional security organisations may be considered on specific projects, for example the campaign against drug trafficking. However, these should not replace the bilateral dialogue and cooperation established by NATO with governments in the region which allow each of them to define its own security interests and the parameters of its partnership with the Alliance.
10 During the Sub-Committee’s visit to Tajikistan, Mamadsho Ilolov, the President of the Academy of Sciences, had suggested that water might become the foundation of regional co-operation in Central Asia, just as steel had provided the foundation for the European construction project.
17 For a more detailed presentation of the “Rainbow Strategy”, see the Secretariat report for the visit of this Sub-Committee to the OSCE and the UNODC headquarters in Vienna in November 2008: http://www.nato-pa.int/Default.asp?SHORTCUT=1685