Central Asia and the Transition in Afghanistan

Dec. 21, 2011, 5:01 p.m.

The U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations published a report on the role of Central Asia in Afghanistan's transition in 2014. The report discusses the New Silk Road initiative, a new regional trade plan for Afghanistan, and the critical role of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan in this plan's success.  The report suggests that more  needs to be done prepare a stable economic and political environment for the region.  The full report and an accompanying press release can be found here.

Central Asia, which includes the countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, is on the frontlines of the war in Afghanistan. Three of the five countries share a long and porous border with Afghanistan, and the region is bound to its southern neighbor by ties of ethnicity, culture, history, politics, and language. They are also connected by flows of militant groups and illicit narcotics. Of all Afghanistan’s neighbors, the greatest focus has rightly been on Pakistan, whose internal dynamics have the most profound effect on regional stability. But what happens in Central Asia will also affect the outcome in Afghanistan.

As the United States plans for the 2014 transition, Central Asia will continue to play a critical role in stabilization efforts and our broader regional strategy. Central Asian countries facilitate the movement of troops and non-lethal supplies into Afghanistan. Kazakhstan provides robust economic and humanitarian aid and recently hosted a meeting of the International Contact Group in the lead-up to the Bonn conference. Several countries, notablyTajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan, are exporting cheap electricity, and Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan have expressed interestin helping advance a peace process in Afghanistan.

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