Riga, 31 May 2010 - ACCORDING TO AN EXPERT, CENTRAL ASIA IS A “POWDER-KEG”
Alain Délétroz, the Vice-President (Europe) of the International Crisis Group, has warned allied parliamentarians about the potentially explosive situation that prevails in Central Asia and has called for consistent cooperation in security among the three great power blocks (NATO and the EU, China and the Russian Federation ).
In his view, in the absence of concerted international action on the security situation in the area in place of such strategic influence ploys as have always existed, we are witnessing the transformation of this region into a “twenty-first century powder-keg, a mix of dictatorships, mafia dealings and religious fundamentalism”.
Mr Délétroz questioned parliamentarians on the political pressure that the international community might apply to these regimes to make up for the non-existent cooperation among the five republics in the region, more particularly with regard to border controls, which in his view is the number one problem in the region. By way of example, he drew attention to the recurrent unilateral blockading by Uzbekistan of Tajik borders, which is choking that country’s already weak economy.
When Mr Karimov, the Uzbek President, who applies the toughest border control policy in the region, decides unilaterally to close his borders for weeks, allegedly on security grounds, the entire Tajik economy suffers. The situation is particularly acute in the Fergana valley, since part of the border is already almost impossible to cross because the foothills have been mined by the Uzbeks; this causes many civilian casualties.
Conversely, from a purely geographical viewpoint the border on the Afghan side is mountainous and extremely difficult to control, especially since the Russian patrols left. This porosity of borders, particularly to the north of Afghanistan with Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, is a piece of luck for Pakistani Taliban, for whom moving drugs – before they pass into Russia bound for Europe – becomes “just a walk in the park”.
According to the speaker, the weakest republics such as Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are now battling with drug trafficking on such a scale that “these two republics run the risk of being completely infiltrated by mafia networks”.
The increasing grip on drug trafficking by the Pakistani Taliban, who unlike the Afghans have a far more regionalist vision and would like to install a caliphate in the region, is all the more dangerous because they make use of it both “to bring in their drugs and to return with the recruits that they train and which then vanish into thin air”.
Thus Mr Délétroz urged the parliamentarians to take positive security measures to resolve this border problem, whether in Afghanistan or in the region. Up to now, attempts at mediation by Russia – which has lost its influence over the region for well-known geopolitical and strategic reasons – over the Fergana valley have unfortunately been unsuccessful. Nonetheless they should be supported by the other great powers, and particularly by the Allies, because a region which is stable both politically and economically is in their own interests.
In his view, an agreement should also be reached by the three great power blocks (NATO and the EU, China and the Russian Federation) at the level of the present regimes to prevent the security situation in the region from deteriorating. With a population oppressed by government and in despair economically, implosions that would destabilise the entire region are quite possible in several countries in the region, in which (apart from Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan) we have witnessed the steady decline of a secular opposition, which might well nurture an Islamic fundamentalist opposition. In the five republics these strong and in various degrees corrupt regimes are clearly based on cults of personality; diplomatic pressure should therefore be exercised towards democratising State machinery and to give the people an opportunity to think “in other terms than on government lines”. Nevertheless the speaker pointed out that this would be an arduous task, and that he “did not envy the diplomats”.
Lastly, financial aid – to be determined with all possible precautions – might benefit Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, because it might possibly enable them to reform their State machinery wisely. On the other hand
Mr Deletroz spoke to members of the Political Committee on Saturday May 29 and to members of the Committee on the Civil Dimension of Security on Sunday May 30.
Some 340 delegates from allied countries and associates are attending the Spring Session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly from May 28 to June 1. The full programme is available on the link http://www.nato-pa.int/default.asp?SHORTCUT=2014.