Thứ Sáu, 7 tháng 10, 2011

5. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Geopolitical Situation in Central Asia (SCO và Địa chính trị ở Trung Á)

Introduce: Mr. Vo Minh Tap
Specialized: World History

This book[1] is devoted to security issues, geopolitics and international relations in Central Asia, particularly after the events of September 11, 2001 and antiterrorist operation of USA and their allies in Afghanistan.These changes in the world politics and global balance of power had an impact on world and regional situation.Actually, the geopolitical picture of the contemporary world has rapidly changed before our eyes.This process started since September 11, 2001 and continued until 20-days war against Saddam’s Iraq in May-April 2003.
It is obvious that security of Central Asia is strongly impacted by the West.But what is the ‘West’ in this regard? We focus on four major actors presenting the West, they are the US, the European Union, the NATO and Turkey.All those geopolitical players are closed connected each one with the other and they influence on security of Central Asia in different ways.
Actually, having carried out the antiterrorist operation in Afghani­stan in 2001-2002 years and having placed the bases in Central Asian countries, the USA have undertaken a role of the main military arbitrator in the center of Eurasia; a role which all other conducting powers of region have refused.It is became obvious that only American military power could eliminate Taliban regime and remove the direct threat to Central Asia.However, the internal political situation in Afghanistan is still a matter of great concern.The threat of internal peace violation in this country is still exist.In spite of the international peace-making forces presence in Afghanistan as guarantors of stability, the threat of destabilization is still high.Hence, indirect threat to the security of Central Asia is also exist.Besides, the international community has not solved another urgent issue of drug trafficking from Afghanistan, what is actual not only for Central Asia, but also for more remote regions of the CIS and Europe.
These great world powers and the centres of geopolitical force involved in Central Asia are Russia, the USA, China and the European Union.It is argued that the geopolitical configuration in the Central Asian region, as well as the balance of power between these large actors have changed.The influence of the West, first of all the United States which have carried out the unprecedented for the modern epoch military operation in Afghanistan and have created military infrastructure not only on the territory of this country, but also in the number of Central Asian states, has greatly increased.The policy of such largest neighbours of Central Asia as Russia and China has also undergone some changes.Moscow and Beijing, who were among the first countries rendered the support to American efforts in the struggle against international terrorism in 2001, faced qualitatively new situation in the region, touching their national interests, in the beginning of 2002.
The most obvious consequence of geopolitical changes was quite frank and for the long time expected movement of Russia towards the West.Rapprochement of Russia to USA, and the European Union as a whole represents certainly a positive process with really predicted positive consequences provided that the legitimate interests of all sides there will be taken into account.It is should be mentioned, that existed before suspiciousness, jealousy and misunderstanding of Moscow have almost completely disappeared on the issue of independent contacts of CA countries with the West.At the same time, the policy of Russia became some kind of a signal for all the countries of the region to develop high-level contacts with the West in military-political and strategic spheres.On the other hand, such organizations as CST (Collective Security Treaty) and SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) have faced in new situation with new challenges.All members of these organizations have felt an urgent necessity to reconsider the purposes and tasks of their participation in these organizations.
Being the largest economic power the European Union aspires to be also one of military-political and geopolitical centers in the world.The EU actively develops its common foreign and defensive policy, tries to act as one actor on the world scene though not always successfully.Nevertheless, the existence of an objective trend is obvious: the EU prepares in future if not to compete with USA but certainly to promote independent policy and to occupy its own geopolitical place on international scene.This touchs on Central Asia since the EU tries to include into its sphere of geopolitical interests not only the countries of Eastern Europe, but also a significant part of the Central Eurasia, that is the CIS, including Caucasus, Caspian Sea and the Central Asian region.“The expansion” of EU is frequently treated as economic, technological and cultural domination.
The NATO creates a good opportunity to connect the Western, European and Eurasian security in general.The Partnership for Peace (PfP) program is clear evidence, as well as Russian policy toward NATO.In the future the development of following scenario should not be excluded, when the development of events will go in such a manner that the certain consensus on the division of geopolitical roles between Europe, America and Eurasia will be found.It is also possible, that instead of the notion “Atlantic Europe” dominating for the last half-centuries, the notion “the Eurasian Europe” will emerge.
From 1991, the security policy of Kazakshtan, the largest and most economically important Central Asian state, has been in a period of active formation.It is a part of regional security structure of Central Asia, that is dependant on the CIS security strategy and impacted by the process of Asian and global security.Inside the last years, the major parties of security sphere were reliefed, they are the West (USA), Russia, China and the Middle East (Muslim World).The US role during these years was very active that had followed the American concerns on soonest nuclear disarmament of Kazakhstan.But in 1995, after that the last nuclear warhead from the last strategic missile was extracted and transported outside Kazakhstan’s territory, so the US activity was decreased.It was revived in connection with the US concerns over Caspian Sea oil and gas resources in 1997, and particularly after the events of September 11, 2001.
Since the Taliban reached the border of Central Asia in 1998, and particularly since the invasion of Islamic insurgents into Kirghizstan and Uzbekistan in 1999 and 2000, this threat has become more actual.The United States is mostly concerned about the strategic stability of the Caspian Sea and the future pipeline routes.The EU is concentrated, especially since 1998, towards social stability and democratic ground as the basis for stable development.Consequently, the EU and Germany were concerned about a potential invasion of Islamists and the increasing danger of general instability in the region.Thus, a potential impact of the West on security in Central Asia grows in the next future enormously.
Two factors play an important role in regional security: the NATO “Partnership for Peace” program and the developing European Common Foreign and Security Policy, both factors should be closely connected with OSCE principles regarding Central Asian region.
In the first half of the 1990s, European politicians drew the absolutely fallacious conclusion about tendencies unfolding in the region.They ignored the need for these republics first to concentrate on the process of building a nation-state, which required the consolidation of economic and political interests of newly emerging elites.Although EU strategy at this point sought to encourage intra-regional integration in Central Asia, in fact precisely the opposite process – disintegration – was underway.The EU hoped to develop democratic and market institutions at a time when the newly independent states needed first to create authoritarian regimes that could preserve stability within and security from without.
In the years of 2001-03, the balance of forces in the region has been changing rapidly: the United States came as a military factor and its influence became strongly felt across the region.There is a latent yet gradually accelerating process of pushing Russia out of its spheres of military-political and economic influence.By their presence in Central Asia the United States and NATO have created a military threat to China.There is also the need to neutralize the so-called Islamic threat.
In 2005, several political events and processes have changed the situation in the region rapidly.First, there were the color revolution in Kyrgyzstan and fall of Askar Akaev in March.This event raised the question about further geopolitical orientation of Kyrgyzstan that is currently uncertain.Secondly, the revolt in Uzbek city Andijan in May what provoked the serious deterioration of relationship between Tashkent and the West, and consequently, reduced US military presence in the region significantly.Thirdly, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) has realized in the July 2005 Summit a strong anti-American demarche concerning the perspectives of US presence.Actually, it was a new step to formation of a new regional military-political organization under the Chinese-Russian dominance.And fourthly, the presidential elections in Kazakhstan in December 2005 and its previous intrigue lead to the silent consensus among the bigger powers relating to keep stability in Kazakhstan notwithstanding with their different political goals and ideological motives.
Central Asia and the nature of bilateral and multilateral relations in the region are changing at a fast pace.The former geopolitical structure in Central Asia and around it that stood on a triangle formed by the West (the Europe, NATO, Turkey, and partly Japan), Russia, and China has collapsed.In the past Russia dominated in the military-political sphere, American money was gradually penetrating the local oil and gas sector, China remained neutral, while the Islamic South threatened to destabilize the region.
At the same time, there is a trend toward closer military-political cooperation within the Collective Security Treaty, the SCO and closer integration within the Eurasian Economic Community.As a result the search for compromises with Russia on delimitation of the Caspian Sea and construction of alternative pipelines has intensified.
The Central Asian countries expected that the United States will move toward closer regional cooperation to confirm that it is serious about its plans in the region.Such moves should include additional investments, broader bilateral cooperation in the energy sector, search for a new security model and for possibilities of the US strategic presence in the region that would take the interests of all states into account.It is expected that Washington will tone down its criticism of the situation in the sphere of human rights and democracy.
In the wake of the events of 11 September geopolitics in Central Asia changed dramatically - on the whole the above analysis says that we are witnessing a new stage of geopolitical developments that will bring the region into a close contact with the world’s economy and geopolitics.Today, the security situation is far from stable – old threat has been replaced with new ones born by geopolitical rivalry in Central Asia.The “Great Game” has entered another stage but it is far from being over.
Nevertheless, the Kazakhstan’s example in 2005-06 proved this fact that the general external actors (US, EU, Russia and China) could collaborate in Central Asia in principle for saving the stability and security.
The Geopolitical Situation in Central Asia after September 11
The geopolitical situation in the world and around Central Asia over the last years started undergoing qualitative changes.Those changes concern: firstly, relations between large geopolitical actors in the global context - the USA, Russia, China, the European Union; secondly, policy of large geopolitical centers of force towards Central Asia (the Caspian region and Caucasus); thirdly, relations between large - the USA, Russia, China, the EU - and average (regional) geopolitical actors - India, Pakistan, Iran, and Turkey: 1) with each other; 2) in the context of geopolitics in Central Asia; fourthly, policy of the Central Asian states in relations: 1) with each other; 2) with large and regional actors.
The recent geopolitical situation around and inside Central Asia is directly or indirectly affected by the following factors: military conflicts with the involvement of the US and its allies (Afghanistan, Iraq); situation in the Middle East; struggle against international terrorism; OPEC’s oil policy; large transport and communications projects (Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan, the Kazakhstan-China, and Russia-Japan pipelines, and etc); the NATO and EU expansion; integration policy in the post-soviet territory (EES); process of ruling regime replacement in the CIS countries.
Geopolitics and geo-strategy of the United States are of really global character and touch upon practically all regions and any state on the planet.The Central Asian region is also not exclusion.The US policy in Central Asia in general is part of the broader Eurasian strategy that touches upon the Caspian and the Caucasian regions, Russia, Afghanistan, the Middle East, South Asia and China along with our region.
The US Eurasian strategy in turn is part of Washington’s global strategy aimed at retaining US domination in the world economy and financial system, consolidation of its military-strategic superiority, expansion of its geopolitical influence in Eurasia, containment of its potential rivals (China, the European Union, Russia), combating so-called international terrorism that can be understood as establishment of control over the Islamic world.
The Unites States’ fundamental tasks also include creation of a kind of strategic barrier in the post-soviet territory.This barrier is supposed to include such key republics as Belarus, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, the Baltic states, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.Consolidation of these states’ relations with the NATO in different forms and on different levels appears as an optimal instrument for the realization of such strategy.What regards Russia, the United States first of all fear its cooperation with China or Iran.
Washington has a complicated and ambivalent task: on the one hand, the US have to avoid restoration of Russia’s strategic control in this territory or creation of political alliance between Moscow, Beijing and Teheran, and, on the other hand, America is forced to cooperate with Russia in order to avoid destabilization in Eurasia.
Thus, relations of Russia and the USA contain many contradictions and collisions of interests.The most important aspect of these relations for us is that concerning Central Asia and the Caspian region.As appears from the above, neither USA nor Russia intend to leave the region or to give up their positions voluntarily.At that both Washington and Moscow demonstrate high level of activity and at times even aggressiveness.On the other hand, both sides would like to avoid open confrontation and come to mutually acceptable compromise.
US President George W.Bush and a number of his advisors are conciliatory in regard of Moscow.They provided the maximum possible compromise in the course of negotiations on the abolition of sanctions against Iraq and advocate Russia’s accession to the WTO.
But a number of influential Washington politicians and political circles made a conclusion after the events in Iraq that the so-called «strategic choice of Russia» after the September 11, 2001 events with support to the USA represented only a tactical move with the purpose of settling concrete external political tasks of Moscow (improvement of relations with the USA, reduction of Islamic threat from the south, and etc.).These circles consider Putin’s external political course in general as anti-American and believe that finally Russia intends to create a strategic alliance with «Old Europe» and use it for the completion of its modernization and restoration of its lost influence in Caucasus and Central Asia with the help of it.They view further US strategy as the continuation of active aggressive policy in this region, consolidation here, pressing out and isolation of Russia.
The US strategy in Central Asia is a distillation of Washington’s general Eurasian strategy.That is, without establishment of full internal and external political and economic control over the states of the region the whole US Eurasian geopolitics loses significance.
Military political presence of the US in Central Asia produced both positive and negative consequences.First of all, we have to admit that the US do not intend to leave the region in the short-run or in the medium-run, and probably in the long run.The main positive effect of the US presence here is that the US will in no case allow repeated threat to Central Asia from radical Islam, considering it as a threat to its national interests.
However negative potential of US influence on security and stability in the region can exceed the positive effect in prospects.First of all this concerns involvement of Central Asia in the track of the Unites States’ policy that would inevitably occur in case of Washington’s confrontation with neighbors of the region, including Russia, China, and Iran.
Any form of US-Russian confrontation would threaten with the split of the region of Central Asia.At that Kazakhstan would most likely take a pro-Russian position.In such case it would inevitably face various sanctions and provocations aimed at destabilization of the existing regime.
Another direction of the US strategy that contains clearly destabilizing potential for the region can be opposition between the US and China on the geopolitical level, which would inevitably touch upon Central Asia that represents a convenient base for the creation of threat to China’s strategic rear by the United States.Beijing’s reciprocal actions can lead to direct military threat to the region.The most dangerous could be purposeful actions of Washington directed on destabilization of disagreeable regimes and their replacement.
The main conclusion from the analysis of prospects of possible developments and changing of the character of relations between the RK and the US is that the field for political maneuver of Kazakhstan between the US and Russia abruptly converges compared to the previous period.Further there can appear another real threat that Kazakhstan may get in a geopolitical snare; absence of possibilities for political maneuvering and inevitability of choosing in favor of only one geopolitical force would lead to worsening of relations with another side with all the ensuing consequences for its security.
In an effort to realize its strategic and geopolitical purposes the United States use a number of methods and instruments that are not new, but still considered efficient by the White House.They include economic assistance, ideological pressure, and even, applied to special cases, special operations, political provocations and sabotage: artificial organization of political crises, support and funding of oppositional or even if necessary of radical forces, open interference in internal affairs, exaggeration of accusations for corruption, and etc.
After G.W.Bush came to power and especially after the September 11 2001 events two regions - Central Asia and Caucasus became not simply two strategically important regions for the USA, but also the main constituents in the US struggle against international terrorism.Washington put forward the main purpose to form new geopolitical situation in the region that would be beneficial for the United States.
However, according to evaluations of US strategic planning experts, the US long military presence in the region brings in an element of strategic uncertainty.They in particular suggest that American military forces would play important role in the regional affairs in future, and this makes it the regional military-political force that nobody would be able to ignore.Moreover, American strategists put the following question: «will the US military forces remain neutral» in case of the change of ruling regimes in the countries of the region and in cases when such a change represents threat to their security, bases, communications, logistics, and etc.?
This means that at present Washington is already considering variants of interference in cases of unfavorable developments in the region for the US like radical consolidation of anti-US spirit, terrorist acts, political destabilization, change of ruling regimes, and abrupt external political reorientation of the regional states into the opposite side from the US.
US analysts offer to change the US strategy in the Central Asian region proceeding from the fact that growing anti-American spirits appear as some of reasons for reconsideration of the US current public diplomacy in regard of Central Asia.According to the last recommendations the US is supposed to continue geopolitical separation of the Central Asian region from Caucasus.Central Asia is closer to the Middle East and South Eastern Asia, while Caucasus is closer to Europe.Further the US has to overstep the limits of a view that the Caspian region is a critical point for the provision of security in Eurasia.Caspian resources are important only for the energy market.
Another prospective direction of the US foreign policy in the region, as considered, is development of nationally oriented civil societies in Central Asia.Majority of analysts believe that the US has to support protection of human rights and other aspects that may resound with the public opinion.This in turn would allow creating a foundation for political movements that would be able to appear as functional opposition to the ruling regime after some time.The leading American analysts appeal to the US leadership to change the conception of its strategy in the Central Asian region and attach a number of recommendations including re-deployment of military bases from Uzbekistan to the Kazakhstani territory.
The main conclusion related to the US strategy in Eurasia is that it is determined first of all by geopolitical factors.Instead of providing support in agrarian reforms, high-tech development, expansion of humanitarian aid, the US government focused on the expansion of military political contacts with the Central Asian and Caucasian states; and this forms a core of cooperation between Washington and countries of this region.
A number of US specialists believe that Washington needs to form a correct political course in regard of this region.The aid provided by the US to countries in Central Asia and Caucasus should not relate only to the military.It should first of all be directed towards establishment of political and public institutions, as well as the development of more diversified economies in these states.
The foundation of bilateral relations between China and the US still is the symbiosis of «mutual fears» and «mutual benefit».China perceives threat to its interests in the US military presence in the Asia-Pacific region and in Central Asia that is maintained because of Washington’s notion about China as the main potential rival to the US in the region.The United States view China as its new and future global competitor that builds up its military and economic might for the purposes of weakening the US position in the world, a number of US analysts believe.Along with that neither China nor the US consider each other as sources of direct military threat at present.American strategists are concerned with the results of their own forecasts, according to which in the existing conditions China’s military potential after 2015 will be comparable with the US military potential, and further China will start surpassing America in economic and military development.
In this connection Washington’s policy towards China as a part of the US Eurasian strategy will be built (for the purposes of retaining US presence in Central Asia) on the following elements: consolidation of cooperation between the NATO and the SCO, support and encouragement of trends towards consolidation of border lines in the region (under technical control of NATO and the US), requirement of transparency in regard of air-force bases and anti-terrorist center of the SCO and the Collective Security Treaty Organization, initiation of various military-technical programs (mine clearing) with active participation of the West; strengthening of intelligence activities and creation of training centers to prevent consolidation of Chinese influence under the pretext of combating drug-trafficking.
The main problem of Russian-Chinese relations is that both Russia and China have not gotten free of the efforts to turn to advantage from contradictions that another side has with the US.Moscow and Beijing fail to build new Russian-Chinese relations in the context of improving relations of the both sides separately with the US so far.Moreover, rapprochement of Russia and the US produced some conflicts in relations between Russia and China regarding a number of issues.
China in its policy in regard of Central Asia is guided by the so-called Pan-Asiatic strategic conception, the purpose of which is economic and transport integration of Central Asia and western China with further connection of these regions with the common network of communications with China’s internal and coastal regions.At that Beijing means not only economic integration, but also strengthening of its political and cultural influence as well as demographic presence in the future.
The West welcomed the developments after the USSR collapse when China could satisfy its growing energy needs by resources of Central Asia.This could be a restraining factor for China’s ambitions in the Asia-Pacific region.According to the western vision of the situation, China’s influence in the region had to grow in the region in the medium and long run, while Russia’s influence was expected to decrease.But by the end of 1990s the West began understanding that there was a real threat that Central Asia could become a sphere of influence («rear yard») of China.
The Chinese strategy in Central Asia is not independent but determined by positions of such powers as Russia and the United States nowadays.
Re-deployment of Uygur and anti-Chinese separatist organizations from Europe to US continued in the last two years, and they keep being financed and provided with organizational support.This means that the US at least reserves instruments of pressure over Beijing for the case of confrontation with it.But the most important American instrument still is military-political presence of Washington in Central Asia.
Understanding that the US military presence in Central Asia is «for a good long while» but having no real instruments of influencing on the states of the region with a purpose to remove this challenge, for the purposes of providing its security China, on the one hand, strengthened its army grouping deployed in the XUAR.On the other hand it undertook efforts towards consolidation of «Chinese component» in the structures of regional security, first of all, in the SCO.Though initially China did not accept the US military presence in the region actively, today it has certainly corrected its position; if US presence in the region is directed only towards combating terrorism and limited within the period of combating terrorism, then it is acceptable.
The importance of China for Kazakhstan’s foreign policy and security since the moment of gaining independence was of dual character: this simultaneously represented a threat and new chances for economic development.
It is obvious that since 1992 till 2000 China was a winning side in the region.Gco strategic and military political successes of China in Central Asia include the following: disappearance of geopolitical competitor, which was the USSR; gradual withdrawal of Russia from the region and objective economic weakness of the Central Asian new independent states; direct territorial gains; direct economic benefit from trading with the countries of the region, especially with Kazakhstan; economic rise of Xingjian thanks to the improvement of geopolitical situation and intensification of economic relations with Central Asia and other markets through it; establishment of control over trans-border rivers and their exploitation for own benefit; creation of a geopolitical organization (SCO) with obvious domination of China; distribution of China’s geopolitical ambitions up to the Caspian Sea.
Appearance of the US in Central Asia as an active military-political player immediately cancelled all China’s geopolitical achievements of the last decade.In answer to Beijing’s support of the US-led anti-terrorist operation in Afghanistan Washington included the Islamic Movement of Eastern Turkistan into the list of terrorist organizations.But this move does not have any real matter.Re-deployment of Uygur and anti-Chinese separatist organizations from Europe to the US territory and their funding and organizational support continued in the last two years.
This means that the US at least reserves instruments of pressure over Beijing for the case of confrontation with it.But the most important American instrument still is its military-political presence in Central Asia, the expansion of which is restrained by Russia so far.
We have to admit that from the view of China’s geopolitical interests Central Asia is not the prior direction.China’s future strategic interests concern the Asia-Pacific region and South Eastern Asia.Future contradictions between China and the USA develop right here (firstly because of Taiwan).But, considering the forthcoming confrontation with the US, China needs to provide safe rear in Central Asia.But Washington has actually deprived Beijing of this possibility by its appearing in the region.
Nevertheless, despite secondary importance of Central Asia for Chinese geo-strategy, Beijing started realizing its traditional strategy in the region in the form of economic and demographic penetration though in a limited scale.First of all this concerns Kazakhstan, and less sensitive it is in Kyrgyzstan.
Considering China’s historic traditions, its geopolitical ambitions, colossal demographic potential and economic growth potential for Kazakhstan’s geo-strategic prospects it would be positive if Chinese presence in the region in any form was limited.In this case the US geo-strategic presence appears as such limiter.
It is not excluded that the Moscow-Beijing angle is temporary and sooner or later Russia will have to choose between strategic cooperation with the West and with China.Despite its external attractiveness, grand energy projects with Chinese participation already contain great geopolitical risk both for Russia and Kazakhstan.
If in the first half of the 1990s economic interests dominated in China’s policy in regard of Central Asia, and it had a task to «settle concrete issues of China’s economic development using a favorable moment», then at present the situation has changed qualitatively.Not only purely economic but also geo-strategic interests became prior.This can explain impetuous increase of commercial operations with Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and even with Tajikistan, as well as transition to the qualitatively new level of relations with Kazakhstan.This also explains why the issues of collective security and «struggle against Islamic fundamentalism» and extremism that feed national-separatist movement in the Chinese XUAR became prior in relations between China and the Central Asian states.China’s main task is to achieve liquidation of guerilla groups in Central Asia, who support the idea of independence of so-called Eastern Turkestan.On the other hand, using the coincidence of its interests in combating terrorism with similar interests of Russia and the US, China puts a task to raise its political role in the region.
The September 11, 2001 events and the following US-led anti-terrorist operation in Afghanistan became a reference point for another stage in Russia’s policy in Central Asia.After September 11 the geopolitical situation in Central Asia underwent considerable changes.An absolutely new military-political configuration appeared; in many respects it conditioned weakening of Russia’s position.Weakening of Russia’s position in the region put Moscow in front of a necessity to revise its foreign policy and build new of relations with its partners in Central Asia now with consideration of the US presence in the region.
The policy of so-called «regional parity» can promote eliminations of weakness of the Russian position.The USA cannot but understand that after the military settlement of the existing problem finishes, Central Asia, Caucasus and Asia as a whole will get new strategic and political tasks that would need other methods, such as economic, ideological, political, and informational, Russia has a built system of managing intra-regional processes and the proper experience, but for the US it is beyond its strength to settle these tasks in many aspects.
Thus the essence of the «regional parity» policy is that Russia could appear in separate regions of Eurasia and in some situations as an equal geopolitical force with the USA and the West and represent Russian-American interests in such cases, as for the USA it will take much more time to accumulate experience that Russia has in regard of Central Asia as a whole.
However the situation changed in 2001 -2002 and there is an impression that Russia loses its previous position as a guarantor of security in Central Asia.Nevertheless, in 2002 Moscow undertook moves to consolidate its military political presence in the region, in particular in Kyr-gyzstan.Despite the possible loss of its considerable share of influence in the region by Russia, this factor will keep being important for Kazakhstan and its security in the long run.
From the view of security and military-strategic stability it is not likely that the EU and Russia/Eurasia are able to create an isolated military-political or geopolitical alliance.Seemingly, this will concern formation of a structure on the base of the NATO consisting of three or four elements: USA-EU-Eurasia-(Japan).The matter concerns full-fledged military strategic union between the present West and the CIS (Russia), the contours of which took shape after September 11, 2001.
Russian strategists at present fear that Tajikistan may withdraw form the area of Russia’s military political influence and following Uzbekistan’s example, join the states adherent to Washington.The US side carried out active policy in regard of Dushanbe since last year.In the course of his visit to the USA in 2002 E.Rakhmonov got considerable political advances at the White House in the form of two-year long cooperation in the military sphere, broad financial assistance, and etc.The Kremlin is concerned by the fact that Rakhmonov in his annual speech to the parliament mentioned no a word about the prior partnership with Russia.
All this offers Moscow to start urgent and decisive actions in regard of Dushanbe in order to avoid weakening of its influence.It is characteristic that Russian special services still evaluate the threat from the Afghan territory as high.Thus the Afghan factor, considering Russia’s potential and its relations with the Northern Alliance can easily be used to put pressure on Dushanbe.
A number of experts believe that the growing military activity of Russia in the region relates not to the Afghan problem itself, and even not to the threat of expansion of the American presence in Central Asia, but with the threat of possible destabilization of the ruling regimes in Kyr-gyzstan and Uzbekistan at a greater respect (and in Turkmenistan at less respect), large social disorders in the Fergana valley and Bukhara region.In this case the threat from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and Afghan islamists will grow considerably.
Russia’s policy towards Turkmenistan was characterized by big strategic gains and simultaneous tactical carelessness.Successes of the Russian strategy of course include signing of a long-term agreement on gas supply in April 2003.Russia, in fact, bought Turkmen gas for many years ahead and thus blocked any attempts of constructing pipelines towards south (there will be nothing to fill the pipeline).But Moscow made concessions to the Turkmen leader in the issues of dual citizenship and since last year it connives at full violation of human rights in Turkmenistan and wide-ranging repressions of this regime.
The Russian policy towards Tashkent is contradictory.On the one hand, Moscow is objectively interested in maintenance of stability in Uzbekistan with I.Karimov’s ruling.On the other hand, worsening of relations between Uzbekistan and the West is favorable for Putin’s strategy directed towards strengthening of Russia’s influence in Central Asia.The Uzbek leader understands this clearly and now tries to play on contradictions between Russia and the US.
Russia has not provided a reliable transit bypassing the Fergana valley through Kazakhstan and the Bishkek-Osh Kyrgyz motor highway, so its largest off-Russia group of the Armed Forces in the Republic of Tajikistan can be cut off the rear provision.At the same time Russian gas giant - Gazprom - has already expressed interest in purchasing 44 percent stake in the Uzbek pipeline monopoly - Uzbektransgaz.The deal could ease supplies of Turkmen gas to Russia via Uzbek pipelines.
In such conditions when Uzbekistan has US special forces on its territory and fully depends on Western financial assistance, Tashkent has no another way except relying on the Russian political support once more.If Karimov managed to convince Moscow of seriousness of its intentions to restore full-fledged cooperation with consideration of Russia’s interests, then Putin would provide necessary support to Karimov against pressure of the West.
Practically, the next rapprochement of Uzbekistan and Russia began during Karimov’s visit to Moscow in mid April 2004.But it goes on in qualitatively new political conditions: cooling of relations between Uzbekistan and the US, development of anti-Karimov direction in Washington’s policy; contraction of field for political maneuvering for the Uzbek leader, and consequent strengthening of Karimov’s dependence on Moscow.
Despite pronouncedly friendly relations of the two leaders and two countries the Kazakhstani-Russian relations entered a qualitatively new stage.It is characterized by different understanding of purposes and tasks, as well as methods of carrying out their economic strategy, internal, and especially external policies by Kazakhstan and Russia.At that the commonness of strategic and even geopolitical interests of the two countries remains a long-term and may be even eternal factor that arises from the Eurasian character of development of the both states.
Future importance of Russia for Kazakhstan’s safe and stable development should not be underestimated or overestimated.Geographic configuration in the region changes very rapidly and is characterized by gradual forcing out of Russia from its previous position.Both Washington and Beijing are interested in the weakening of Moscow’s status in the region at some extent.At the same time, considering prospects of their possible mutual confrontation neither the USA nor China are interested in full weakening of Russia in Central Asia as their potential partner against the other side.
The most critical for the Russian side are our independent relations with the West on the entire complex of issues.The self-evident previous Kazakhstan’s dependence on Russia in the military-technical sphere becomes the thing of the past.Astana actively develops it relations with the West in this sphere both within the NATO and on the bilateral basis.These activities arise concerns of Moscow, as well as Beijing, which is Russia’s and Kazakhstan’s partner in the SCO.This concerns first of all participation of western states - the USA, Germany and the UK in modernization of Kazakhstan’s air defense system.Moreover, Moscow would hardly welcome the US plans to build a military base on the Kazakhstani coast of the Caspian Sea in direct closeness to its vital military-strategic objects and polygons.
Moscow pays rapt attention to the growing pressure of Washington over Kazakhstan.The Russian side is specifically irritated by the fact that harsh critiques of Kazakhstan and its leadership appears right in moments of next Kazakhstani-Russian rapprochement.Russian politicians have no doubts already that the main purpose of the US policy in Kazakhstan is to isolate the republic from integration processes involving Russia and to avoide rapprochement of Astana and Moscow in any form.
In general, Russia that formerly was indifferent to Kazakhstan’s abstract statements about the participation in the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan project now becomes more and more nervous when this project is about to be realized.Kremlin not always understands our actions in the world arena in regard of critical international problems, such as, for example, the Iraqi problem.Seemingly, Moscow hoped for our solidarity with the Russian position.
And finally, still, right as it was in early 1990s, the problem of Baikonur remains urgent.Russia practically makes no secret of its intention to turn down this space center and develop other cosmodromes on its territory or even to launch rockets from the European space center in South America in the average-term.
Among its strategic tasks Kazakhstan needs to save its military-political alliance with Russia within the frameworks of the Collective Security Treaty, take care of the reached consensus in the Caspian, and keep being loyal to Russia’s position in the CIS, SCO, EEC, and EES.
The Caspian problem represents the most uneasy challenge for Kazakhstan’s future.It touches upon the republic’s relations with practically all big geopolitical players, including Russia, the USA, China, Iran, and the European Union.
Until the recent time the most probable scenario of developments in the Caspian was the following.Geopolitics in the Caspian comes to exclusively two alternative routes of pipelines - the northern (Russia-Europe) and south-western (Baku-Ceyhan).The USA establishes strategic control over all the Persian Gulf resources, first of all in Iraq; and this allows Washington manipulating prices in the world crude market.Iran, as a geopolitical power, is being removed from the game.At the same time Washington cuts short China’s ambitions for the Eurasian energy resources.Through political and economic pressure over the Caspian and other interested states it imposes the Baku-Ceyhan route.
Another scenario can develop if the economic might of the European Union promotes development of the northwestern route (with variations on the Caucasus and in South-Eastern Europe).Its strategic and geopolitical importance will lie in the union of Eurasia and Europe, or in unification of the post-soviet states’ resources and the EU economic potential.Optimal chronological frames of this process concern 2010-2020 with consideration of depletion of oil resources of the North sea after 2010.
Also Iran’s withdrawal from geopolitical isolation is not excluded.In this case, a possibility of the Iranian southern route should be considered.It may fully shut perspectives of the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline.Character of relations between Teheran and other Caspian states will be of great importance for this perspective.
Russia is absolutely not interested in withdrawal of Iran from the geopolitical game and establishment of pro-US regime in this country.At present Russia has considerable economic interests in Iran related to the atomic program, and even more to the modernization of Iranian armed forces.
Concerning developments in the Caspian, US analysts come to a conclusion that Moscow is ahead of the West in the region.This happens thanks to Russia’s long-term agreements with Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan on oil and gas transit as well as on attractive pipeline projects towards the Baltic Sea and use of gas condensate from the Karachaganak field.
The main disputable issue between Russia and the West will concern development of routes for the transportation of oil from Kashagan.Russia attempts to block oil transportation via the Caspian Sea by large-capacity tankers and through construction of an underwater pipeline.Moscow’s purpose, according to western analysts, is combination of Russian and Caspian oil into one pool under Russia’s control.Along with direct economic dividends this will also provide a possibility of political pressure over European consumers.Russia’s weak spot is deterioration of Russian pipelines and their comparatively low carrying capacity.
It is necessary to point out two factors (instruments) of European strategy in Central Asia: the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the OSCE.Moreover, European strategy is partially realized within the NATO - the North-Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Euro-Atlantic partnership and the «Partnership for Peace» program.
Actually, Europe has no strategy in regard of Central Asia and Kazakhstan, if we understand this term as maintenance of systematic policy.At the same time the EU’s purposes in the region were clear from the very beginning, but there were no instruments for achieving them.Those purposes were ambitious and means were very insignificant.On the level of the European Union this situation was expressed in the situation that all the EU activities were directed towards the regions that were close to its borders.The OSCE at that has almost no resources to realize the European strategy.What regards policies of separate European powers, in this case this concerned low level of strategic interests, insufficient historic presence and clearly formulated priorities.
Potential for the European contribution in the provision of security in the region and its deeper involvement in the regional politics appeared after September 11.The European Commission clearly understands that the Caspian resources are supposed to play an important role in the energy provision of Europe (and decrease dependence of the EU on Russia) in the future.Moreover, the European Union is concerned with such problems as illegal drug imports.In general, the EU’s strategic (or normative) purposes concern establishment of liberal democracy and domination of law and human rights in the region, as well as opening of the region to the European and International Economic system through liberalization and democratization.
With Kazakhstan the EU expressed lack of strategic thinking.Rather efficient economic relations between the EU and the RK within the framework of the Agreement on partnership and cooperation did not entail consolidation of Brussels’ political influence.The EU transport-energy strategy turned to be more systematic, it was aimed at realization of strategic purposes of the European Energy Charter through the development of TRACECA and INOGATE projects and making the Caspian resources serve in favor of European interests.
We can mark out three reasons why there is no European strategy towards Kazakhstan: 1) Central Asia as a whole and Kazakhstan in particular do not represent prior areas for Europe; 2) achievement of European strategic purposes is complicated by existence of a difficult mechanism of decision making; 3) large European states would not like to give up its sovereignty in maintenance of foreign and defense policy in favor of many-sided structures that is directly reflected on the development of a common strategy towards Central Asia in particular.
The EU policy in general can be characterized as «proto-strategy».This means that in fact the European Union has not gotten an efficient strategy towards Kazakhstan and the whole region.It is beyond question that the EU expansion in one or another form would affect the situation in the post-soviet territory.Is has already caused economic conflicts between Brussels and Moscow concerning the revision of the whole system of commercial relations between Russia and Central and Eastern European countries.Kazakhstan also does not stand aside.The European Union is the largest trade partner to the republic beyond the CIS.
From the political point of view the EU movement to the east can deepen disintegration spirits in the CIS.Meanwhile Brussels feed pro-European spirits in Moldova, Ukraine and Caucasian republic promising from time to time their integration into Europe, this can have negative effect on the integration processes in Eurasia.But still Russia, Kazakhstan, and most of the CIS countries will have to close in with Europe in some political and economic issues.The matter consists of how economically expedient and politically equal this process would be for these countries.
The so-called Stabilization Treaty for Caspian countries was developed in the European Community.It consists of three elements: (1) development of a transport communications network along the East-West line versus the existing North-South routes; (2) consolidation of democracy and a market economy in the region’s new sovereign states; (3) transition from geopolitics to economic competition.These conditions form the basis for the European Union’s investments into the Caspian countries’ economies.N.Nazarbaev supported this idea during his visits to Berlin and other European capitals in 2001-2004.
Because of aggravated situation in Central Asia and the increasing threat to national security, Kazakhstan intensifies its relations with the EU.At the same time, Europe expresses keen interest in the region.Nevertheless, it is necessary to note that the EU does not have any strategies with regard to Central Asia.Big European states have different economic and political interests in this region.This connects with the internal peculiarities of European policy and the general geopolitical situation, including relations between the EU, the U.S., and Russia.At the same time, the events of 2000 and 2001 demonstrated that the prevailing theme in relations between Europe, Kazakhstan, and Central Asia was the problem of regional security and the fight against terrorism and drug trafficking.After 9/11, the decisive factor in the development of European policy toward Central Asia was Afghanistan.The crisis of 2001 increased the urgency of the issue of how to terminate Europe’s dependence on Arabic oil.The events of 9/11 transformed the search for hydrocarbons in the Caspian region into a real policy of high-priority significance.In the future, this factor will define the development of relations between Kazakhstan and some European states, and the European Community on the whole.
The current international position of the RK is characterized by the following processes: in the external political direction it maintains the policy of balancing between great political power centers (versatile diplomacy).It maintains relations with Russia on rather high level.With China Kazakhstan carries out distanced and cautious policy using different mechanisms (SCO, CICA).The events of 2001-2002 removed the most serious threat to security in Central Asia from the militant Islamism for the coming future.In relations with the West it reached temporary stabilization.The policy towards Central Asia as well as the CIS develops mechanically over the recent years.Development of the Caspian continues despite some political and geopolitical obstacles.The new correlation of powers around Central Asia appearing as a result of formation of new geopolitical situation threatens Kazakhstan with the appearance of new threats and challenges to its security and stability.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Geopolitical Situation in Central Asia

One of the most perspective and effective regional organizations seems to be the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).Before 2001 it was called “Shanghai Five” according to the number of original members: China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan.Initially “Shanghai Five” was created to solve boundary questions.The member-states signed such founding documents as the Agreement on Confidence Measures Strengthening in military sphere along the borders (Shanghai, April 26, 1996) and the Agreement on armed forces mutual reduction in the border area (Moscow, April, 24, 1997).Afterwards the parties to treaties met regularly at the levels of heads of states, Defense and Foreign Affairs ministers, heads of law enforcement bodies and special services.During following regular summit held in June 200 in Shanghai the organization was enlarged by new member – Uzbekistan.At this summit “Shanghai Five” was transformed into Shanghai Cooperation Organization.The members also signed Convention on combating terrorism, separatism and extremism.
Specifically, in the Shanghai summit in April 1996, the heads of these Five states signed an Agreement on Strengthening Measures of Trust in the Military Sphere in Border Areas, and in April 1997 they signed a further agreement on the mutual reduction of armed forces in border areas.The agreements are to remain in effect until 31 December 2020, with a possible prolongation for another five years.In contrast to the Collective Security Treaty of the CIS, these documents provide for concrete actions and specify:
An extraordinary meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of SCO member-states was held in January 10, 2002 in Beijing.The sides achieved the unity of opinions on the issue of the settlement in Afghanistan and the quick restoration of its economy, and also expressed the support to the temporary government of Afghanistan led by H.Karzay.An important event in the evolution of SCO became a regular summit, held on June 6 of 2002, in Saint Petersburg.The summit resulted in signing three documents: SCO Charter, Agreements on Regional antiterrorist structure and Declaration of Heads of the member-states of the organization.Signing of the main document – the SCO Charter – has marked complete institutionalization of the organization.
Kazakhstan’s Interests and Balance within SCO
Over the past ten years, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) has become a key player for Kazakhstan’s international standing and the geopolitical processes in Central Asia (CA) more generally.At the present time, the SCO counts six member states: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.A group of states, originally known as the “Shanghai Five,” has existed since 1996.Members of the Shanghai Five were united in their search for solutions to the problems relating to questions of frontiers and settling of territorial issues along the borders between the former Soviet Union and China.Later, in 2000, a decision was taken to transform the Shanghai Five into a regional structure for multilateral cooperation in various fields.In 2001, the SCO was created in Shanghai as a new international organization.It was implemented legally at the June 2002 summit in St.Petersburg, where the SCO Charter, the Agreement on the Regional Antiterrorist Structure (RATS) and the Joint Declaration of the Heads of State were also signed.Uzbekistan joined the SCO in the same year.
What initially stands out about this organization is the disproportion between its members: it includes giants such as China and Russia on the one hand, and considerably smaller Central Asian states on the other – in terms of their political weight, the scale of their economies, their demography and the size of their territories.Considering this uneven playing field, it is worth pondering what exactly Kazakhstan may get out of the SCO.
Kazakhstan’s participation and interests in the SCO are influenced by several factors: The first one is geopolitical, stemming from the participation in the organization of two major powers, Russia and China.These two powers automatically cast a shadow over the remaining members of the SCO.Indeed, Russia and China have their own, specific geopolitical interests which extend far beyond the boundaries of the region: China’s concerns lie predominantly in Asia (the Northeast, Southeast and Asia-Pacific region); those of Russia are in Europe and the Euro-Atlantic area (relations with the EU and NATO); while both countries share complex relations with the USA.In addition to this, Russia has its own interests in the former Soviet Republics of Central Asia, where China is increasingly influential.Geopolitical relations between Russia and China (as the leading members of the SCO) as well as their relation with the outside world are of great concern[2]
It is important to understand, therefore, the extent to which this bilateral relation in turn forms the strategic background of Kazakhstan’s own international affairs.The second aspect, closely linked to the first, relates to security issues.In 2002, the Agreement on the Regional Antiterrorist Structure was signed within the framework of the SCO, and implemented by the creation of the SCO regional antiterrorist structure in 2004.Kazakhstan’s interests depend on the SCO’s capacity to protect Kazakhstan (as well as otherCentral Asian countries) from the threat of radical Islamism.As this concerns the fundamental question of security, it is important to rememberthat the SCO was originally set up to guarantee the inviolability and security of its member states’ borders: the Agreement on Mutual Reduction of Military Forces in Border Areas was signed on 24 April 1997, and the Agreement on Strengthening Mutual Trust in Military Fields in Border Areas on 26 April 1996 (which came into force on 7 May 1998).
The third aspect is an economic one.Since 2000, when the decision to transform the “Shanghai Five” into a regional structure was taken, repeated announcements and efforts have been made to encourage economic integration within the SCO.Yet the SCO needs to contribute to Kazakhstan’s economic development and well-being if it is to serve the country’s interests.The fourth aspect, lastly, concerns regional integration, namely, the extent to which all the constituent elements of the SCO (geopolitical, economic, multilateral and bilateral relations) influence regional politics and the relations between the republics of Central Asia, as well as how this in turn affects Astana’s interests.
The wide range of questions raised by the SCO highlights the diversity of potential issues the organization faces.A number of these, however, are often solved outside the framework of the SCO.These include Russian-Chinese, Russian-American and Chinese-American relations; security problems with regard to the respective roles of the CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization)[3], NATO and the SCO; bilateral relations of the Central Asian countries—both among themselves and between them and the great powers.Consequently, there is no SCO policy per se.However, the very fact that the SCO exists and seems to be active in the area of foreign policy (or geopolitics) creates the perception (or at least the illusion) of there being a new and serious player on the regional and international stage.In this context and in regard to Kazakhstan’s foreign policy, it is worth pondering whether the SCO is little more than a trompe l’oeil.
The SCO’s activities in the field of security are, to a large extent, purely declarative, although the organization could play a significant role in certain areas - in Afghanistan, for example.Indeed, since the fall of the Taliban there has been little progress in that country.It is, for example, the source of a large flow of drugs, which the new administration cannot control.It is assumed that a substantial part of the income from this trade funds Islamic terrorist groups, which have not been eradicated by “Operation Enduring Freedom.”
This threat directly concerns the six member states of the SCO.China fears, and with good reason, that Uighur clandestine groups could form a common front with the Islamists.The concern is no longer an independent Uighur state in Xinjiang, but rather a “caliphate,” which would encompass Central Asia and neighboring regions.For Russia, the threat from the south is highly significant: it is essential to prevent militants and drugs from infiltrating Russian territory by maintaining the southern republics of Central Asia stable at all costs.
In the spring and summer of 2004, and then in 2005, the terrorist underworld once again issued Uzbekistan with a reminder of its presence there by carrying out a series of terrorist acts.In Tashkent, authorities are fully aware that the fuse of Islamic terrorism could light the powder keg that is the Fergana valley - considered so because of the acute social and demographic problems there.In Kyrgyzstan, many Islamists live almost openly in camps in the southern part of the republic: they are not active against local powers, but instead attack Chinese representatives and are spreading into Uzbekistan.Tajikistan has also seen the full spectrum of terrorist threats.Over the course of many years, even after the civil war ended, the territory of this republic has been permeated with both Afghan militants and Tajik Islamists trained on Afghan soil.At first glance, Kazakhstan appears to be the only state in a more advantageous position, but this is merely an illusion of security.The possibility of destabilization in southern Kazakhstan cannot be ruled out.Besides, Kazakhstan also has to take into account the Uighur factor in its relations with China.
As far as the SCO’s place in Kazakhstan’s foreign policy is concerned, the organization is currently of some importance, at least officially.In its capacity as chairman of the organization, Kazakhstan arranged a meeting of the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs at the end of February 2005 to discuss the question of maintaining stability in SCO territory, the organization’s international activities, current problems of modernity, and the acceleration of efforts to implement the Tashkent initiative on creating a partnership network of multilateral partnerships in the Asia-Pacific region.The second meeting of Security Council secretaries from SCO member states was held in Astana in early June 2005, to discuss questions of security and stability in SCO territory and neighboring regions, as well as measures to strengthen cooperation between SCO member states to combat terrorism, separatism and extremism.
The tenth meeting of SCO heads of state, held on 5 July 2005 in Astana, was heralded as a major international event.It was then that Iran, India and Pakistan were conferred the status of observer.Among the seven documents signed at this summit was the framework for cooperation in the fight against terrorism, separatism and extremism.The SCO member states agreed to carry out joint anti-terrorism instruction and personnel training, and to share their acquired experience.But the main outcome of this summit was the SCO’s declaration on the duration of the stationing of US military bases in Central Asia.The majority of commentators considered this declaration to be an ultimatum directed against the United States.However, after a time, the attitudes of the different parties became more divided.Kyrgystan, for example, has essentially repudiated this “anti-American statement.” During the visit of US Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, to the region in July 2005 Bishkek stressed that Kyrgyzstan wished to maintain the American base on its territory at Manas.
After the events in Andizhan in May 2005[4], and in particular after the SCO summit in Astana, Uzbek-American relations reached a crisis point.Tashkent did not limit itself to a verbal declaration as Bishkek did, but actually made the USA close its base in Khanabad.This request was granted at the end of November, 2005.For its part, Washington exerted pressure on Uzbekistan in connection with the events in Andizhan, human rights violations and the general situation in the country.Kazakhstan meanwhile, which has no American bases on its territory, was able to set an example of “brilliant political distancing,” having encouraged the anti-American démarche on the one hand, while doing nothing to significantly aggravate relations with the USA (or NATO) on the other.
At the end of October 2005, the regular session for the Council of Heads of Government (Prime Ministers) was held in Moscow.At this meeting, Beijing attempted to steer the development of the SCO toward strengthened economic cooperation.The Chinese Premier, Wen Jiabao, declared that China was prepared to put US$ 900 million toward financing joint development projects.The Chinese were essentially proposing to heavily subsidize the economies of SCO countries, attempting to transform the political organization into an economic one: a proposal that was rejected by Kazakhstan and Russia.Had the Chinese solution been accepted, there would have been a danger of the SCO turning into a Chinese “economic protectorate.” This scheme threatened Russia and Kazakhstan in particular since the Chinese strategy had assigned them the role of rear energy bases, suppliers of hydrocarbons and raw materials.
The fact that Central Asia is becoming part of a new economic and geopolitical order taking shape in Eurasia and Asia has recently been touted by certain commentators.This process would be characterized by market expansion towards the countries of Southeast Asia, China, Korea, India, Turkey and Russia, and a slowdown (even stagnation) in Europe’s economic development - traditionally a guiding beacon for many countries of the CIS and Russia.Strengthening the “Asian” paradigm and consolidating Eurasian independence (should Russian and Central Asian integration projects be implemented) could have far-reaching strategic consequences.
Events of recent years have shown that the SCO has begun to follow the same path as other regional organizations, namely, it is becoming more institutionalized and bureaucratic.A Secretariat with headquarter function has been set up in Beijing; the activities of the Council of Heads of Government and Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs are organized; cooperation is underway between Security Council secretaries, and an executive committee for RATS has been established in Tashkent.The creation of a Development Fund and an SCO Business Council are telling of the member states’ will to reinforce the economic aspect of the SCO.
However, many observers are distrusting and skeptical of efforts by SCO founders to present their organization as an element of the multipolar world and a modern geopolitical power.According to these, the SCO is little more than a colossal act of geopolitical bluff.The fact is that the “two main wheels on the SCO cart” - in the words of the Uzbek president Islam Karimov[5]-Russia and China, have been trying to use the SCO in their relations with the USA and the West for their own advantage.They only use the SCO to “fly their flag” in Central Asia, in face of a mounting American presence there.
Shanghai Cooperation Organization and
China’s Interests in Central Asia[6]
The SCO has its geographical and political peculiarities[7]. It combines two major world powers and four smaller Central Asian countries, which are unequal in terms of their political, economic, military, demographic, and social potential, thus composing a 2+4 organism.
The SCO may evolve into one of the four following scenarios[8]. First, it may develop into an anti-Western alliance, say, an anti-NATO.Second, it may expand to other countries (Mongolia, India, Afghanistan, Iran, etc.), though this is unlikely to happen.Any expansion of the SCO will result in complicating its political and organizational structure.Third, Russia and China may establish joint control over their Central Asian partners as the SCO is intended to balance the interests of both powers in Central Asia by involving other countries in the game.Forth, the Central Asian Cooperation Organization may be given an independent role within the framework of the SCO that will confirm the SCO’s political orientation towards Central Asia.
Beijing believes that all international forces in Central Asia may equally cooperate with the SCO[9]. 16 Each side of this triangle has its own interest in the resources of the region[10]. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization has diversified its activity; however, Beijing insists that its main objective is the fight against terrorism.It is believed that the SCO is a provisional structure for China while it is developing into a central world power.When this happens, China is very much likely to treat other countries, and primarily its neighbors, harshly.
China has tried to dispel the worries of its weaker Central Asian neighbors and focused on antiterrorist activity as a common objective, thus promoting its image of a new superpower with no aggressive plans.China’s representatives regularly meet with prime ministers, presidents, generals and other diplomats of neighboring countries in order to build up China’s image abroad and to maintain strategic diplomatic relations.China tries to establish a subtle version of hegemony over its neighbors.
Beijing understands that economic, commercial and industrial cooperation with Central Asia, where the main conditions are determined by China, would be much more effective and farsighted.Trans-boundary rivers provide a strategic leverage for Beijing’s policy in neighboring countries (first and foremost, in Kazakhstan).For this reason, Washington loses its dominance in Central Asia to Beijing, despite locating its military bases in the region and having a huge financial potential.
China is the only Central Asian country outside of the CIS, which is able to help its neighbors to fight against regional extremism supported by international terrorist organizations.
However, the future economic cooperation between China and Central Asia has a low potential since their commercial relations have apparently been extended to the utmost and China’s investment potential, which is the main interest of its Central Asian partners, is rather limited.This leads to delaying the implementation of projects, which have already been prepared, for example, in communications.At the same time, China’s growing need for raw materials and energy resources may result in increasing investments by national Chinese companies in the oil and gas sector of Kazakhstan and the hydropower industry of Kyrgyzstan (for supply of electrical power mainly to Xinjiang).Regarding Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, they seem to remain a secondary economic interest of China.
U.S.military presence in Central Asia, which serves as a military support for China, is a serious threat to China’s security in the eyes of official Beijing.However, Beijing lacks the means that would allow it to prevent its neighbors from cooperating with the U.S.and other NATO members on military and political issues, including military presence.Now, an important task for China is to hamper Central Asian countries from being involved in the confrontation between Washington and Beijing, i.e.from taking any part in anti-Chinese coalitions.
As a «regional player» in the past, China is becoming an important factor in international relations.Its relation ship with the U.S., Europe and Russia will be built on issues of global and regional security and will directly affect the interests of Kazakhstan and other Central Asian countries.However, the economic development of China has its negative trends, which should be taken into account when developing a long-term strategy for dealing with this power.
Russia is trying to avoid direct confrontation with the U.S.and to concentrate on meeting strategic challenges faced by development processes in the country.This makes Beijing keep a low profile in its relations with the U.S., including regional concerns, and focus on protecting its top-priority interests, mainly Taiwan and suppressing possible external support to Xinjiang and Tibet.
It is very important for Eurasian countries, primarily Russia and Kazakhstan, to understand that by establishing large colonies of its emigrants, which have economic and political influence and are closed nationally and socially, China is pursuing an important goal in its foreign policy.
China also plays an increasingly active role in regional political forums where it has two priorities.The first set of events are those where China is becoming increasingly active, but not a leading player, for example, the ARF (ASEAN Regional Forum), the principal forum for security dialogue in Asia, and ASEM.The second set of events are those where China’s role is number one or two, after an obvious leader, for example, the SCO where China is actually the motivating force, and the six-party talks on North Korea, which would hardly progress without Beijing’s constant pressure on Pyongyang.However, in pursuit of its traditional careful and step-by-step tactics, China does not declare its aim to take the leading position in these events and gives ground to Moscow and Washington, respectively.
In the near future, China is expected to start boosting its regional economic relations with other countries, aiming to maintain its economic growth, to increase its political and economic influence on the regional organizations it takes part in, and to implement energy and communication projects in Siberia and Central Asia.
In the medium-term, China will try to become a leader in such organizations as the SCO and ASEAN and to form the Economic Cooperation Organization in Northeast Asia (with Japan and South Korea) where it will also play a leading role.It will also try to strengthen its economic and demographic influence on the Far East, Mongolia, Siberia and Central Asia.
It is certainly the case that China is isolated within the SCO, confronted by a block of post-Soviet states that share a common past and confronted with the same problems, which facilitates understanding among them.Moreover, Russia has a specific, tried-and-tested approach to each of them.
A number of factors define China’s interests in the SCO.Firstly, Beijing is attempting to restrain the separatist forces of “Eastern Turkestan”[11]; secondly, it is trying to preserve Central Asia as a stable and strategic base; and thirdly, it views certain countries in the region as both potential suppliers of energy resources and economic partners.One of China’s main goals is to prevent this region from becoming a base for separatist groups and a channel for their links with international terrorism.China is therefore proposing that the governments of CA republics ban these separatists from carrying out any activities on their soil and prevent any elements of this terrorist and extremist structures from entering Chinese territory.Beijing is working on the assumption that the security of CA states is interrelated with the security of the Xinjiang Uighur autonomous region (XUAR): in other words, any instability in Central Asia will affect the security of northwest China[12].
Beijing’s success at ensuring that CA remains a stable and strategic base depends on three things.Firstly, it depends on the solving of the contentious border issues between China and other countries in the region, as well as establishing peace and security in border areas.Both of these problems are nearly solved: all that remains is to reach an agreement on certain unpopulated and insignificant bits of territory near the border.Secondly, it is contingent on the countries of Central Asia engaging in open foreign policies with regard to China which, in turn, must establish balanced bilateral relations with them.Thirdly, Central Asia must not be under the thumb of any superpower.
The Chinese strategy in Central Asia is not currently entirely autonomous, but determined rather by the Russian and American positions[13]. As far as Beijing is concerned, further development of the region’s situation will, to a large extent, depend on the duration of the US’s military presence there.China is therefore planning to build its strategy in Central Asia around the SCO by strengthening its position and refining its decision-making mechanisms, and by limiting institutional inertia in order to make it a tool for transforming the region as a whole.
It has not escaped the Chinese political and military establishment that, over recent years, Russia has undertook a “return” in Central Asia by asserting its military presence and political influence there.To them it is clear that Russia’s deepened economic integration within the CIS is intended to increase its political influence.China is therefore trying to limit Russia’s return to the region and to contain it via the SCO.Considering Russia’s diminishing economic clout, China sees its own growth as the main engine capable of providing a model for the whole region’s development.Consequently, the SCO appears at present to be a transitional structure for China, while it attempts to establish itself as a global power center.It is also clear that China will do everything it can to prevent the erosion of the SCO as a tool for spreading its presence in the region and for balancing the relations between China and Russia.Beijing’s main difficulty is to find a way of coordinating the SCO’s antiterrorist action with the Collective Security Treaty Organization, which has the same vocation and includes all SCO countries but China and Uzbekistan.
Meanwhile, China has been trying to dispel the worries that the weaker Central Asian neighbors have in its regard, promoting counterterrorist measures and furthering its image as a peaceful superpower.In so doing, China is attempting to establish some semblance of soft hegemony.Considering China’s growing energy demand, it is assumed that Chinese state companies will vastly increase their investments in Kazakhstan’s oil and gas sector, and strengthen their participation in Kyrgyzstan’s hydraulic power sector (mainly with the aim of supplying electrical power to Xinjiang).
Russian Vision on SCO
For Russia, the SCO is above all a framework for cooperation with China.The scale of cooperation between Moscow and Beijing reached unprecedented levels in 2005.Russia and China held a series of joint large-scale military exercises, made a joint declaration on world order in the 21st century, and have used the SCO to counter US military presence in Central Asia.
The Russian military community views the promotion of cooperation with China within the framework of the SCO as indispensable, but remain divided over the extent of such strategic military cooperation in light of possible rivalry between the two.The Russian General Staff does not consider China to be a reliable partner, and refuses to sell certain military equipment and technologies deemed too sensible.Russia is also unwilling to sell China any kind of license to manufacture complex arms systems.Moscow is clearly becoming concerned about the growth of Chinese influence in Central Asia and the region’s increasing dependence on China.As mentioned previously, Beijing’s attempts to transform the SCO from a political organization into an economic one have not been reciprocated by Moscow.
Russian analytical circles are currently working on a formula for cooperation with China within the framework of the SCO.In particular, they are attempting to rethink the internal structuring and functional specialization of SCO members, based on the conventional 2+2+2 model, with China and Russia at the top level; Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan at the middle, regional level; and Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan at the bottom, subregional level.For the purposes of functional improvements, they would not exclude the possibility of classifying Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan as leading SCO subjects, responsible for stability and development in the region in the context of the Central Asian “Four,” while Russia and China would assume the SCO’s general strategic path, as well as its relations with the rest of the world.
Russia clearly fears the threat of becoming China’s junior partner.Consequently, Moscow is taking a series of steps: by restricting the sale of new technology, by limiting regional economic integration, and controlling immigration.It is also with this in mind that Moscow is reinforcing trilateral relations between Russia, India and China.
To a large extent, Russia seems to view the SCO as a temporary geopolitical instrument in the spirit of the Primakov doctrine[14], in order to maximize the convergence of points of view with China.The proximity of the two countries helps Russia and China to coordinate their positions in the international arena.Furthermore, Moscow believes that a stance coordinated with China cannot be ignored by the international community.Russia today believes it has a unique opportunity to restore its geopolitical influence in Central Asia.Russia has managed to merge the Central Asian Cooperation Organization (CACO) and the Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEc)[15] and, by so doing, it has effectively taken control over the integration processes in the region.In reality, this was an attempt to find an answer to Chinese economic expansion in the region.
Russia’s strategy regarding Kazakhstan, at least in the short term, essentially overlooks the framework of the SCO.It aims rather to achieve a joint defense area, completing a Collective Rapid Deployment Force (CRDF) under its aegis, continuing the process of further integration with the economic and military structures of CTSO member states, and forming an integration core (on a Central Asia level) around Russia and Kazakhstan.
SCO - Challenge to the West?
The USA clearly plays a role in the evolution of the SCO insofar as the two leading powers of the organization - Russia and China - have close strategic and economic (counter-) relations with Washington.The USA has a presence in Central Asia and influences, to varying degrees, the foreign policies in the region’s countries, primarily in Kazakhstan.
Since 2005, American strategy in Central Asia has undergone radical change.The essence of this change is that Washington was forced to come to terms with the fact that its influence is on the wane there, and as a consequence, of its need to adopt a more realistic policy.In the case of Kazakhstan, this more realistic policy manifested itself for example in the non-intervention of the 2005 presidential elections.In the preceding months, there was a very real threat that the USA could have recourse to a “color revolution” in Kazakhstan.A number of factors contributed to offsetting this threat: Astana’s decisive reaction to events in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, its concerted consultations with Moscow and Beijing, the change in the electoral calendar, as well as the joint démarche by SCO members in July 2005, when SCO participants raised the issue of the American military presence in the region.Consequently, it was the unequivocally frank position held by Moscow and Beijing that became the strongest limiting factor with which the USA was forced to contend.
It is assumed that a review of certain previous methods and instruments for implementing American policy in the region is currently underway, all of which will inevitably have repercussions on Kazakhstan’s security.The goals of the US strategy in Central Asia and their means of implementation are currently the subject of heated debate in the American establishment.In 2005, a new strategic approach to the region was developed in Washington - the “Great Central Asia” (GCA) project[16]. The GCA project also had concrete political goals: to separate Central Asia from the Eurasian region, of which it appears to be a natural part, and in sodoing isolate the countries of the region from Russia and the CIS as a whole; setup a “buffer zone” between the region and China; and creating a series of communications routes from the Caucasus to Pamir that avoid Russian and Chinese territories, etc.In short, the GCA plan can be perceived as a plan set up to counter the SCO.
From an institutional point of view, this project manifested itself in the redistribution of responsibilities within corresponding departments of the US State Department: in autumn 2005, Central Asia was transferred from the European department’s area of responsibility to the department in charge of the countries of the Middle East and South Asia.The new American strategy (as voiced by the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during her visit to the region in October 2005) simultaneously takes into account several geopolitical, military-strategic and regional factors.With regard to Russia and China, the US has decided to act in accordance with the interests of these powers in the region and is prepared (if only formally) to consider this as well as acknowledging the influence of the SCO.At the same time, the USA insists on its presence in Central Asia.Consequently, a departure (at least in words) from the previous unilateral approach of the USA is becoming clear.
The trend towards NATO - and more precisely, the rehabilitation of the armies of Central Asian states - is a new tool in the process of strengthening the influence of the USA and the West.In recent times, cooperation between the countries of Central Asia and NATO within the framework of the Partnership for Peace (PFP) has gained increased attention.Moreover, the idea that the best way of modernizing Central Asian armed forces is via this Partnership is gaining ground.This idea - which, objectively speaking, is very sensible - has nevertheless caused irritation and concern in Russia, as it indirectly threatens the functioning and credibility of the CSTO and the SCO.
NATO’s strategic aims (in the context of US strategy) include maintaining stability across the huge expanse of Eurasia that lies east of Europe, as well as supporting geopolitical control of strategically significant regions in the Middle East, the Black Sea, Caucasus, Caspian Sea and Central Asia.Central Asia and Afghanistan have a special place in this lineup, being key regions for NATO to establish its geopolitical presence in the center of Eurasia, in terms of the impact they might have on Russia and China.NATO strategists, evaluating Kazakhstan’s current foreign policy, believe that Astana is taking a conscious risk in its relations with Russia and China, aiming to strengthen its relations with NATO slowly but surely over the long term.On this basis, NATO is quick to underline Kazakhstan’s dual obligations with the CSTO and SCO, as well as in its bilateral relations with Russia and China.It is therefore trying to enter the fray of Astana’s balancing act.
The European Union is almost entirely absent from the geopolitical scene in Central Asia.This applies to both EU strategies concerning Central Asia as a whole and the level of political activity from individual member states.At the current time, Europe is able to influence Central Asia only indirectly, via the OSCE and NATO for example.This is largely due to the dramatic slowdown of EU integration after the failure of the constitutional project, but also to the EU’s recent enlargement, the developments in Ukraine, the change of power in Germany, and the transformation of relations between the EU and Russia.In regard to NATO, the question is how the US strategy will be coordinated with its European allies.It is clear that the EU strategy regarding Central Asia and Kazakhstan has been determined by prominent individual European powers (France, Germany, United Kingdom), but also by international organizations - namely NATO and the OSCE.The EU is presently very important for Kazakhstan’s economy, but it does not carry the weight of a geopolitical and military-strategic force in the region.
For the time being, the EU is in retreat in Central Asia, satisfied in considering it a “buffer zone.” The EU will therefore encourage (using various tools such as NATO and the OSCE) this role for Central Asia, as buffer against the dissemination of threats against European interests: terrorism, drug trade, illegal migration, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction being prime example.
However, this approach has one important distinguishing feature: in contrast to the USA, the EU has always acknowledged Russia’s particular interests in Central Asia.European strategists are also con­sidering ways to further their relations with the region.In this respect, the Turkish problem is reviving, since building and developing formal alliances between the European Union and the Turkic states of Central Asia will depend on, though not be limited to, decisions made regarding the admission of Turkey to the EU and on the stances taken by Beijing and Moscow on this issue.
Some European strategists have not ruled out the possibility of agree­ments being concluded with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and “democratized” ( Uzbekistan along the lines of the Lomé and Euromed agreements.Although these agreements do not offer any prospect of entry or associate membership of the EU, they imply more intense contact between partners in economic, customs and various other spheres.
However, the EU’s strategy regarding Central Asia, the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus - still considered in Brussels as a single entity, will take as a starting point the demand for energy and natural resources, combining this approach with the doctrine of defending human rights and enforcing democratization.
Because of aggravated situation in Central Asia and the increasing threat to national security, Kazakhstan intensifies its relations with the EU.At the same time, Europe expresses keen interest in the region.Neverthe­less, it is necessary to note that the EU does not have any strategies with regard to Central Asia.Big European states have different economic and political interests in this region.This connects with the internal peculiari­ties of European policy and the general geopolitical situation, including relations between the EU, the U.S., and Russia.At the same time, the events of 2000 and 2001 demonstrated that the prevailing theme in rela­tions between Europe, Kazakhstan, and Central Asia was the problem of regional security and the fight against terrorism and drug trafficking.After 9/11, the decisive factor in the development of European policy toward Central Asia was Afghanistan.The crisis of 2001 increased the urgency of the issue of how to terminate Europe’s dependence on Arabic oil.The events of 9/11 transformed the search for hydrocarbons in the Caspian region into a real policy of high-priority significance.In the future, this factor will define the development of relations between Kazakhstan and some European states, and the European Community on the whole.
In this environment, there are several important implications for the West and the European Union in particular, concerning radicalism and terrorism in Central Asia: 1.Develop skills, especially in the intelligence community, in understanding the ideological framework of the radical and terrorist groups.2.The radical and externally sponsored Islamic movements and organizations existing in the region offer little hope for a meaningful dialogue.Instead, it is the moderate majority and the secular parts of the population, that should be engaged in dialogue.3.The West needs to support reform-minded officials within governments, not just anti-government forces.The West needs to find points for collaboration within the governments, to support progressive groups and work toward evolutionary change.
4.The link between drug trafficking and religious extremism is proven beyond doubt, and the majority of demand for drugs arises from EU coun­tries.Lending major financial support to counter-narcotics would hence be a major effort in fighting militancy and terrorism.5.The EU should promote continental trade across Central Asia and the Caucasus, which would bring new economic opportunities to these populations and reduce the appeal of radicalism.6.EU educational exchanges should increase, and extended to the provinces, including those experiencing Islamic radical movements.7.The EU should focus assistance on the delivery of governmental services to deprived areas, and in general, on greater degrees of decentralization and self-government.8.Further, the EU should treat the issue of support for extremism in Central Asia, including Afghanistan, and the Caucasus as a subject for bilateral discussion with relevant Arab states and Iran.9.The EU may find it useful to look at the Turkish example, which is relevant to understanding the tension between trying to create a modern and open democratic system and dealing with the threat of fundamentalist and militant Islamic political ideology.To this end, the EU should engage Turkey as it addresses issues of Islamic radicalism in the Caucasus and Central Asia[17].
Through the SCO, Kazakhstan remains at the mercy of the evolu­tion of the Sino-Russian relations: on the one hand, excessive strategic rapprochement between Beijing and Moscow threatens to establish a double dictate of these powers in Central Asia (including within the framework of the SCO); conversely, however, there is also the danger of a flare-up in Chinese-Russian rivalry in the region, which cannot be ruled out in the future.
The problems that China presents for Kazakhstan are traditional ones and must be conceived of while bearing the long-term in mind: demographic penetration, China’s growing economic influence and the threat of Kazakhstan becoming economically dependent on China, as well as growing conflicts between Beijing and other major powers.Yet China’s strategy and policy is rapidly changing—which demonstrates an active, offensive vision for the future of CA and its relations with China.Needless to say, Beijing considers itself, in the medium term, the lead power and economic protector of the region.This kind of strategy on the part of China will, in the future, inevitably aggravate Chinese-Russian relations and could shift the style of relations from one of cooperation to one of rivalry over the right to be the major act­ing force in the region.
The SCO in the mode seen in Moscow and Beijing may become another sizable challenge to the development of Kazakhstan.That is to say, as an influential international organization of geopolitical dimensions, in which China and Russia will undoubtedly dominate, Central Asian states are likely to be assigned the role of “the guided.” In view of this trend, it is logical for Kazakhstan, as far as possible, to work on maintaining a tacit alliance with the post-Soviet states within the SCO with a view to neutralizing the influence of China.At the same time, Astana must continue to be Russia’s leading partner out of all member states.This means coordinating with Russia on major energy projects linked with China.
It appears that Washington will transfer its focus to cooperation between Kazakhstan and NATO, and not only with a view to matters of security, but to the broader spectrum.Under these circumstances, Astana is in a difficult position, since expanding cooperation with NATO will inevitably antagonize Moscow and China, as leading powers in the SCO.On the other hand, Kazakhstan cannot, with long-term prospects in mind, afford to forego full cooperation with the West for the sake of the SCO.
The SCO is thus an extremely ambiguous organization: it is not a military-strategic alliance, nor a full-fledged economic union, nor is it a political organization in the traditional (geographical, cultural-civili­zational, and so on) sense.Nevertheless the SCO holds an increasingly prominent place in Kazakhstan’s foreign policy, even if this might be involuntary, mostly because of the participation in it of powers such as Russia and China, which Kazakhstan can evidently not ignore.The SCO’s Central Asian trend is another factor compelling Kazakhstan to try and play a prime regional role.
In terms of Kazakhstan’s foreign policy, the SCO holds risks as well as benefits.Because this policy relies on a clear balance of influences (or “multi-vectored”), the SCO presents Kazakhstan with added op­tions in its dialogue with the West.However, the many priorities of the SCO proposed (or imposed) by Moscow and/or Beijing are inevitably a burden for Kazakhstan.Membership of the SCO thus creates yet more difficulties in terms balancing Russia and China, as it is likely that, in the future, Astana will have to choose between them.
In the end, Kazakhstan is not reaping any real benefit from its mem­bership in the SCO, for the organization has practically no bearing on Kazakhstan’s bilateral relations with either Russia or China, nor does it help advance any particular issue.For example, Kazakhstan has been as of yet unable to gain any concessions from China on such weighty problems as the use of cross-border rivers.The SCO’s potential in the area of security therefore remains mostly abstract and provides no real guarantees.
In conclusion, taking into consideration all of the objective and subjective factors, the prospect of creating an effective regional organization derived from the SCO’s development seems extremely hazy.In any event, the main issues are solved at the bilateral level.And even if the SCO did succeed in developing into such an effective organization, the China’s extraordinary growth would confine the other member states into little more than a supply-base for China’s natural resources.The organization would then risk becoming an “economic trap” with foreseeable consequences in terms of their political sovereignty.This threat is, as yet, hypothetical.But even today the SCO embodies more challenges and risks for Kazakhstan than it does benefits.
The nations of Central Asia, surrounded by Russia, China, and South Asia, comprise the geopolitical centerpiece of the Eurasian continent.Their location makes them both a buffer and a passageway between East and West.Central Asia is a major energy producer.The region is capable of reducing the world’s dependence on oil from the Middle East.Central Asia is thus subject to crosscurrents of political, economic, and military interests and pressures.It is also at the crossroad of narcoterrorist traffic that originates in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The current security and geopilitcial situation in Central Asia is strongly determined by some different factors.The Western impact is now the one of most important.This impact is realized by two major players which are the US and EU, and through some political and military instruments.So, a stability of the region is depended on whole general framework which includes Russian-Western relations, Sino-American contradictions, European ambitions, Caspian economics etc.It is possible to conclude that the future security of Central Asia will be managed by the West and its agents, but it should be a kind of smart and flexible management which should take into consideration the interests of Central Asian states, also the real vital interests of other powers, first of all, that is Russia.Only this condition is demanded to secure the stability in the region and to prevent new real ‘Great Game’ in a sense of 19th Century’s power rivalry and uncontrolled expansion.The unengaged expertise proves this epoch is over.And mostly, the current Western presence in Central Asia in this own form confirms this final thesis.
But, the security perspective on Central Asia nowadays is absolutely not harmonic one.Unfortunately, it is real to predict for today some sources of danger and instability.That is a minimum of threats which the external powers and regional actors should react for.Uzbekistan with its enormous burdens of the social and economic problems, inflexible political regime and growing Islamic pressure (as the “second wave of indigenization”, according to Samuel Huntington) is certainly would produce an instability for whole Central Asia.
Kyrgyzstan after Akaev demonstrates a chronic political crises, that is directly resulted by its undeveloped social structures, clan and regional division, as well economic disparity.Actually, this Central Asian state is trapped in “post-Soviet phase” for long perspective.The forthcoming Kyrgyzstan’s development doesn’t inspire optimism.Tajikistan, its economic, political and social structures are deeply involved and depended on drug-traffic and drug-production business.This country is strongly impacted from neighboring Afghanistan, and not only in drugs sphere.Turkmenistan remains the enfant-terrible of Central Asia.The existence of despotic and exotic Turkmenbashi regime was not ended after his physical death in December 2006 and is flavored by Russian gas interests, the Western – particularly US – tolerance, Turkish and Iranian support and Ashgabad’s self-isolation.
The prospects of Islamic radicalism in Central Asia and the Caucasus remain unclear.On the one hand, it is evident that radical groups do not have strong following in local societies.In spite of repression, poverty, and foreign proselytizing, only a minority of the population of the region appears to find the message of the radicals appealing.What is worrying, though, is that this message appears increasingly tempting to segments of the youth in the region.This does not appear to be related to levels of economic development or the openness of political systems.
Thus, regarding the growing Russian and Chinese influence (within and without the SCO), the West is challenged to find a stable and sustainable partner.For next perspective, only Kazakhstan could play this role.Astana claims already now to be a regional leader and to carry its portion of responsibility.However, Kazakhstan needs a political, and more exactly – geopolitical support for its mandate.With its economic progress, natural resources, political reforming and active new national elite which was formed during the “Nazarbaev’s era”, Kazakhstan could become a “center of geopolitical consensus“ among all major external actors.In any case, for today Kazakhstan remains solely state in Central Asia which has a real chance not to disappoint the West (“to fulfill promise”, according to Martha Olcott).
The Caspian problem represents the most uneasy challenge for Kazakhstan’s future.It touches upon the republic’s relations with practically all big geopolitical players, including Russia, the USA, China, Iran, and the European Union.Currently, the situation in the Caspian is dependent on following factors: 1) the realization of the BTC-Pipeline project; 2) the Russian new energy strategy (Garzprom expansion); 3) the crisis over the Iranian nuclear program.
The main disputable issue between Russia and the West will concern development of routes for the transportation of oil from Kashagan.Russia attempts to block oil transportation via the Caspian Sea by large-capacity tankers and through construction of an underwater pipeline.Moscow’s purpose, according to western analysts, is combination of Russian and Caspian oil into one pool under Russia’s control.Along with direct economic dividends this will also provide a possibility of political pressure over European consumers.Russia’s weak spot is deterioration of Russian pipelines and their comparatively low carrying capacity.In 2006-07, Kazakhstan confirmed its position that is to develop the diversification of hydrocarbon export.
The current international position of Republic of Kazakhstan is characterized by the following processes: in the external political direction it maintains the policy of balancing between great political power centers (versatile diplomacy).It maintains relations with Russia on rather high level.With China Kazakhstan carries out distanced and cautious policy using different mechanisms (SCO, CICA).The events of 2001-2002 removed the most serious threat to security in Central Asia from the militant Islamism for the coming future.In relations with the West it reached temporary stabilization.The policy towards Central Asia as well as the CIS develops mechanically over the recent years.Development of the Caspian continues despite some political and geopolitical obstacles.The new correlation of powers around Central Asia appearing as a result of formation of new geopolitical situation threatens Kazakhstan with the appearance of new threats and challenges to its security and stability.
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[1] This book is the continuation of our previous editions.See: Laumulin M.The Security, Foreign Policy and International Relationship of Kazakhstan after Independence: 1991-2001.– Almaty: KazISS and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, 2002; New Challenges and New Geopolitics in Central Asia: after September 11 Eds.By M.Ashimbaev and M.Laumulin.- Almaty: KazISS, 2003; Laumulin M.Central Asia and the West: the Geopolitical Impact on the Regional Security.– Almaty: KazNU/KazISS, 2004.
[2] See Bobo Lo, “A Fine Balance: The strange case of Sino-Russian relations,” Russie.Nei.Visions, No 1, April 2005.
[3] The Collective Security Treaty was signed in May 1992 by Armenia, Belarus, Kazakh­stan, Kyrgystan, Russia and Tajikistan.In 2002, its member states signed the statutes of the Collective Security Treaty Organization in Chisinau and, in December 2004, the organization gained the status of observer at the UN General Assembly.The purpose of the CSTO is to prevent and end military threats to territorial integrity and sovereignty, as well as cross-border threats such as international terrorism.
[4] On 13 May 2005, an uprising took place in Andizhan (Fergana valley) and was brutally put down by government forces.The Uzbek government has continuously denied that the revolt was peaceful and instead claimed that the incident was an attempt to destabilize the government.They have turned down requests for independent international investigations.Several Western states have since distanced themselves from the country’s government and the EU has imposed sanctions on it.
[5] See KontinenT journal, No 12, 2004.
[6] Refer to: Абдыкайева А.Шанхайская Организация Сотрудничества как фактор стабильности в Центральной Азии // Казахстанв системе международных отношений (Алматы).2001.С.124-127; ГуанчэнС.Шанхайская организация сотрудничества в борьбе с терроризмом, экстремизмом и сепаратизмом // Центральная Азия и Кавказ (Швеция).2002.№4.С.13-20; Калиева Д.Шанхайская организация сотрудничества: перспективы развития //Analytic (Алматы).2001.№3, С.37-41; Логвинов В.Шанхайская организация сотрудничества - качественный шаг вперед // Проблемы Дальнего Востока (Москва).2002.№ 5.С.6-14.
[7] Sieh: Wacker G.Die „Schanghaier Organisation fur Zusammenarbeit».Eurasiche Ge-meischaft Oder Papiertiger? - Berlin: SWP, 2001.- 41 S.; Malysheva D.China and Central Asia: the Role of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) // Central Asia and South Caucasus Affairs: B.Rumerand Lau Sim Yee.-Tokyo: The Sasakawa Peace Foundation, 2003, pp.51-76.
[8] Толипов Ф.К вопросу о самостоятельной роли организации центральноазиатского сотрудничества в рамках ШОС // Центральная Азия и Кавказ.2004.№ 6.С.169-180.
[9] Xu Tao.Promoting «Shanghai Five» Spirit for Regional Cooperation // Central Asia (University of Peshawar).No 49.Winter 2001, pp.181-190; ПанГуан.Шанхайская организация сотрудничества в контексте международной антитеррористической кампании // Центральная Азия и Кавказ.2003.№ 3.С.55-61; Комиссина И., Куртов А.Россия - Китай - страны Центральной Азии // Центральная Азия и Кавказ.2004.№ 2.С.175-182.
[10] Хамраев Ф.НАТО-ШОС: борьба с терроризмом и/или за влияние в Центральной Азии // Центральная Азия и Кавказ.2004.№ 4.С.77-81.
[11] Name given by Turkic nationalists to the territory of the modern Xinjiang Uigar au­tonomous region (XUAR), which is populated predominantly by Turco-Islam people related to the peoples of Central Asia.
[12] Zhao Huasheng, “China, Russia, and the U.S.: their Interests, Postures, and Interrelations in Central Asia”, Central Asia and the Caucasus (Lulea, Sweden), 2004, No 5, p.116-125; No 6, p.86-94; Li Lifan, Ding Shiwu, “Geopolitical Interests of Russia, the U.S.and China in Central Asia”, Central Asia and the Caucasus (Lulea, Sweden), 2004, No 3, p.139-146.
[13] Zhao Huasheng, “China, Russia, and the U.S.: their Interests, Postures, and Interrelations in Central Asia”, Central Asia and the Caucasus (Lulea, Sweden), 2004, No 5, p.116-125; No 6, p.86-94; Li Lifan, Ding Shiwu, “Geopolitical Interests of Russia, the U.S.and China in Central Asia”, Central Asia and the Caucasus (Lulea, Sweden), 2004, No 3, p.139-146.
[14] In 1998-99, Y.Primakov, Russian Foreign Minister and Prime Minister and a veteran of the intelligence community, tried to redirect Russian foreign policy from West to East and give it a more anti-American and anti-Western character.
[15] In February 2002 the Central Asian Cooperation Organization (CACO) supplanted the Central Asian Economic Community created in 1994 by Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, as economic cooperation between these countries gave way to broader forms of cooperation (notably in the field of fighting drugs, religious extremism, radicalism, etc).Russia joined the organization in 2004.The Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC) was founded in 2001 by Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Russia and Tajikistan and replaced the customs union of 1995.After Uzbekistan applied for membership in the EAEC in October 2005, it was decided to merge the two organizations.
[16] See Starr F.S.E.A Greater Central Asia: Partnership for Afghanistan and Its Neighbors.The Central Asia-Caucasus Institute and Silk Road Studies Program, Washington, DC: Joint Transatlantic Research and Policy Center, 2005, 38 p.
[17] Starr S.F.Clans, Authoritarian Rulers, and Parliaments in Central Asia.- Washington, D.C.: Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program, Johns Hopkins Univer­sity-SAIS, 2006.

Authors: Murat.T. Laumulin,  Almaty - 2007