Moscow doesn’t see the current Afghan government as autonomous, and is trying to strike a balance between all the different forces at play there in order to retain its influence if one of those forces collapses.
China sees security issues in Central Asia as inextricably tied to its own domestic security concerns, and is rapidly establishing a footprint that will allow it to deal with matters as it sees fit in the region.
Hitherto content to work with Central Asia’s incumbent leaders, China is now supporting pro-China politicians: an unprecedented intervention in the region’s affairs that is shaking the foundation of Moscow’s cooperation with Beijing there.
This podcast episode focuses on the shift in power in Central Asia and the evolving roles of China and Russia there.
Biden’s rhetorical support for the region will make it easier for Central Asian and South Caucasus governments to bring their issues to Washington's attention. But a Biden administration may not have the bandwidth to take on many new problems.
Sadyr Japarov’s meteoric rise was fueled by a fortunate combination of two political assets: popular radical rhetoric, and connections with influential people. But it’s unlikely they can both be juggled for long. One of them will have to be sacrificed.
There’s no point in expecting anything like the Belarusian protests—not to mention the revolution in Kyrgyzstan—in Tajikistan. In the decades he has been at the helm, President Rahmon has concentrated all the power in the country in his own hands.
The situation in Kyrgyzstan is in some ways similar to the last two revolutions. At the heart of it is not the revolt of a liberal opposition against a corrupt regime, but a brutal fight for power between regional and tribal groups disguised as political parties. The difference this time is the reluctance of world and regional powers to get involved.
President Mirziyoyev has already solved the issues for which his predecessor Karimov was condemned. Now he must tackle the problems that have arisen on his own watch. With every year, it will be harder and harder to pass off symbolic concessions as genuine reforms.
China is gradually laying down the foundations for the construction of a Pax Sinica in Central Asia. This is particularly successful in certain sectors of the economy, but Beijing’s policy has come up against constraints, both within Central Asia and outside of it.