Just when it looked the Central Asian countries were facing the growing joint political hegemony of Russia and China in the region, the events of September 11 opened the door to an increased and indefinite-term U.S. military presence. This not only involves the prosecution of the war in Afghanistan but also, in particular, a new agreement recently signed with Uzbekistan to establish a U.S. military presence in this Central Asian nation. This agreement provides for American use of military bases and facilities, and it paves the way for a long-term U.S. military presence, not excluding the stationing of U.S. troops on a standing basis.
Since September 11, the United Nations has gained a rare prominence in Washington’s calculations. Of course it did once before, when Iraq invaded Kuwait–but that was more like a one-night stand turned date rape than a long-term relationship. This time, it could be a more durable courtship, based on more modest and realistic expectations on both sides.
Abkhazia Again: The UN Helicopter Shootdown By Robert M. Cutler October 15, 2001
Just as the post-cold war transition to a new international system seemed to be ending, the terrorist acts of September 11 and the U.S. responses have re-opened the question of Central Asia’s strategic orientation and, through that, the structure of the entire international system.
Uzbekistan has sought a special relationship with the U.S. since the early 1990s. The country received designation as an American “strategic partner” in 1995 in a bilateral communique. This “strategic partner” relationship has, until recently, been largely a rhetorical designation.
Before September 11, South Asia’s problems loomed large. The region, with over a billion people, a history of war, rising religious militancy, newly tested nuclear weapons, and a get-tough mood, was on the brink of instability. Adding to South Asia’s long list of troubles is the U.S. war against Osama bin Laden and the Taliban. Hasty U.S. actions could deepen the problems facing South Asia. Over the long term, the U.S. has the opportunity to foster regional stability–but only if it pursues a different set of policies in the region.
Not a shot has been fired–yet–at Afghanistan’s Taliban, but the country’s beleaguered population already is paying a heavy price for the ruling militia’s pariah status as host to alleged terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden.
It appears that the United States is preparing for a major military strike against Afghanistan. There is no question that the United States needs to respond forcefully to bring the perpetrators of last week’s terrorist attack to justice and to prevent future attacks. A large-scale military action against that country, however, would be a big mistake.
Central Asia: On the Periphery of New Global War By Abid Aslam September 24, 2001
The Tuesday tragedy in the U.S. is already having a profound impact on Pakistan. The apocalypse in the U.S. has forced upon the Pakistani ruling elite its day of reckoning sooner than it had anticipated. The Pakistan military, which is also running the government here since October 1999, now has to choose clearly and unequivocally between a direct confrontation with the militant religious groups–and there are dozens of them–and the wrath of a wounded and angry America.