The struggle for influence in Central Asia- extract 2

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Central Asia is on a different trajectory now. The region is in the midst of a major geopolitical shift that will diminish its ties to the Euro-Atlantic community and will elevate China’s influence in and importance to Central Asian states. Beijing and Moscow will be the region’s principal economic, political, and security partners due to China’s preeminent regional economic power and Russia’s residual presence .


The withdrawal of Afghanistan has reinforced the need for Americans to have a stable and independent zone but it is no longer a strategic region for them. Between NATO and Kazakhstan within NATO’s Partnership for Peace (PfP) program, a solid cooperation has been created but the rest of the region has been reluctant. The shift of the organization on threats like Russia in Europe or Middle East lowered the interaction of NATO in this region. Moreover, in an atmosphere of cold war increased, close contacts with the organization could create additional problems for some Central Asian states by triggering a negative reaction from Moscow.

Nowadays, American priorities that are the identification of threats and the fight against internal and external sources of instability – ISIS - are found through international cooperation on terrorism and the fight against money laundering and organized crime in the region in international for a such as the UN.

Intergovernmental, Washington opened the dialogue with each of the republics in the hope of encouraging reform in favor of democratization and liberalization of markets after the fall of the USSR. Due to its demographic weight, ethnic homogeneity, geographical and historical centrality in the region, Uzbekistan had become the anchor of US policy in Central Asia. The country supported the US policy in the region for stabilizing role service. However, the US wills are more now near a cooperation that would combine their policy with Uzbekistan and cooperation with Russia against drug trafficking and the terrorism.

Greater regional integration among Central Asian states has been a long-standing goal of U.S. policy: America’s NSR initiative was a significant project in this enterprise. However, with the United States not willing to provide financial resources, the results thus far have been disappointing, and regional economic integration is problematic at best for several reasons, sometimes intern to the region (With the exception of Turkmenistan, Central Asian states have shown little commitment to regional economic integration or to a north-south transportation network that would connect the region to its neighbors in South Asia). Besides, China’s Silk Road Economic Belt offers Central Asia a compelling alternative to NSR with a potential $46-billion fund, as well as potential financing from the new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

With the decline in the price of oil and changes in the global energy marketplace, region’s producers and exports have suffered but also dampened prospects for new investment in the energy sector. Central Asia is not an attractive target –with the exception of Kazakhstan.

These developments showed declining American presence in and influence over the region—and greater difficulty in transforming Central Asian states into democratic (obstacle of the region’s domestic politics—the closed political systems, abuse of basic civil rights, and lack of respect for the rule of law.), free-market economies together by regional economic integration Geopolitical shifts and internal dynamics are setting the stage for possible increased great-power competition in Central Asia between Russia and China when the region is becoming less hospitable to the projection of U.S. power and to the promotion of democracy.

In the meantime, China's presence and influence in Central Asia - Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan - have been increasing. The "New Silk Road economic belt" highlights Central Asia's importance for Chinese development. Resources of Central Asia are attractive to China because of its proximity to which depends price and reliability of imports. China has been investing billions of dollars in the energy sector which include a series of contracts with Kazakhstan worth $30 billion, contracts for $15 billion value with Uzbekistan, and natural gas transactions with Turkmenistan in 2013, which reached about $16 billion. China provided loans to Turkmenistan and Tajikistan (8$ billion and 1$ billion each). Central Asian countries are important allies in the fight against Islamic extremist for China’s west: as long as Xinjiang will have a sovereignty issue, there will be a mutual interest. Institutions such as the Shanghai Six have created a solid base for cooperation between Central Asia and China. The area has become an area of common interests between large panel of countries, which not prevent from conflict between them. However, reluctance and probability of crisis will not disappear as long as stability of region will not be solved.

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