Central Asia: Time to gather strength

It is not a field work that has been the Central Asian governments’ main springtime headache over the past 3 years. Instead, it has been the prevention of rebel intrusions, putting on alert of army units and frontier guard. Kyrgyzstan must feel especially vulnerable – the Islamic fundamentalists are almost sure to launch another attack on the republic’s south this summer. Considering the recent years’ experience, aid from the neighbouring friendly republics won’t hurt. A delegation of the CIS Interparliamentary Assembly has just been in Kyrgyzstan. Deputies from Russia, Kazakhstan, Tadjikistan, and Ukraine agree that the focus of international terrorism has been shifting to the Central Asia of late, the principal danger coming from Afghanistan which has long become the world’s centre of drug smuggling and a stronghold of terrorists. The situation is getting more complicated because main routes of the drug import from Afghanistan to Russia and then to Europe are running through the area, Yevgeni Zelenov, Russian State Duma deputy and the chairman of the International Assembly’s permanent commission for defence and security, says. This fact is being confirmed by Bolot Djanuzakov, head of Kyrgyzstans’ national security service. In his words, 2/3 of the drugs’ “northern stream” passes through notorious terrorist Djum Namangani who is wanted in many countries. Unfortunately, serious differences between the regional leaders hamper newly independent states’ ability to counter terrorist and Islamic expansion, Mr. Zelenov also says. For example, Uzbekistan withdrew in 1999 from the CIS collective security treaty. Earlier, it had refused to participate in the collective peacekeeping forces and withdrawn his units from Tadkjistan. So, Uzbekistan’s uncooperative stance makes it difficult for Central-Asian states to consolidate and effectively withstand international terrorism – one of major challenges of the new century.


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