By Dmitry Shlapentokh
November 3, 2020, the CACI Analyst
After the death of President Islam Karimov, Uzbekistan’s new leadership has engaged in a transformation process structurally similar to those in the post-Stalinist USSR and post-Maoist China. Manifestations of this new reality are manifold. Some are quite visible to the public, such as the recent harsh jail term for Karimov’s daughter, accused of corruption, embezzlement, money laundering and other crimes. Other manifestations are more subtle, yet important in order to understand the new trends. In particular, a shift is underway from the emphasis of Tamerlane (Timur) as the founder of Uzbekistan to the role of Alexander the Great in the country’s antecedents.
By Farkhod Tolipov
July 16, 2020, the CACI Analyst
In May-June 2020, Central Asia experienced several border incidents between Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan; Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan; Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. These incidents revealed once again, on the one hand, the local population’s transboundary lifestyle and on the other, the artificial character of the borders that separate independent states from each other. Similar incidents have recurred in the region with a certain frequency since gaining independence; however, none of them escalated into larger and dangerous conflicts since resolutions came quickly and were based on unique integrative arrangements.
By Farkhod Tolipov
June 8, 2020, the CACI Analyst
In May 2020, Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Maria Zakharova commented on a draft law initiated by Uzbekistan’s Ministry of Justice, stipulating the use of Uzbek language for the entire workflow in governmental bodies. According to the draft law, officials will be fined for failure to comply. Moscow reacted strongly to this political motion in Uzbekistan. Whereas support for national language and culture abroad is a normal feature of foreign policy and commonly regarded as a “soft power” tool; the statement of Russia’s MFA Spokesperson was received as another form of “hard power” in Uzbekistan.
By Bakhrom Radjabov
June 4, 2020, the CACI Analyst
Since January, COVID-19 (coronavirus) has reached the level of a global pandemic. At first, some Central Asian republics seemed to be virus-free islands with zero confirmed infection cases. Afghanistan confirmed its first COVID-19 case on February 24, followed by a closure of the borders with other Central Asian republics. Kazakhstan discovered its first cases of COVID-19 on March 13, and Uzbekistan on March 15. Kyrgyzstan confirmed its first case on March 18 whereas Tajikistan did not report any cases until April 30. Before this date, the country allowed mass gatherings, including the celebration of Navruz, which was cancelled by other Central Asian governments. Turkmen authorities have so far not officially reported any cases of COVID-19 in the country.
By Nurlan Aliyev
May 27, 2020, the CACI Analyst
In early February, U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo visited Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. He was received by the two heads of states in Nursultan and in Tashkent, Pompeo attended a C5+1 Ministerial with the foreign ministers of the five Central Asian republics to stress “U.S. support for a better connected, more prosperous, and more secure Central Asia” (State.gov). These thoughts are reflected in the new U.S. Central Asia Strategy. (State.gov). The renewed U.S. interest in Central Asia comes against the backdrop of China’s growing economic involvement in the region and Russia’s strong political and security relations with the Central Asian republics. Despite the Trump administration’s declarations of commitment to enhancing relations with the regional states, the perspectives of the U.S. in Central Asia should be examined.
The Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst is a biweekly publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program, a Joint Transatlantic Research and Policy Center affiliated with the American Foreign Policy Council, Washington DC., and the Institute for Security and Development Policy, Stockholm. For 15 years, the Analyst has brought cutting edge analysis of the region geared toward a practitioner audience.