Belatedly, I note my latest column in the Moscow News: ‘A true “Medvedev” doctrine,’ on Russia’s current ‘Center’ and ‘Union Shield’ military exercises and what they say about current priorities and threat evaluations. Is (was?) there a ‘Medvedev Doctrine’ that envisages interventions in Central Asia to prop up failing regimes? I hope not and think that ultimately Moscow would rather not, but my concern is that – as in Afghanistan in 1979 – the Kremlin gets sucked in believing (a) that regime change will hurt Russia, (b) that it has not alternative, but in any case (c) that any intervention can be neat, successful and brief. I’d love to be able to reassure myself that fundamental political lessons were learned from the Soviet Afghan war and also the USA’s experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan…
All posts in category Central Asia
Posted by Mark Galeotti on October 1, 2011
I confess I am often distinctly skeptical about the analysis produced by STRATFOR (although they do have some of the prettiest graphics around), but while not agreeing with a fair amount of the piece overall, Peter Zeihan’s The Kyrgyzstan Crisis and the Russian Dilemma does make an interesting and important point about the role of Uzbekistan. Talk of the ‘Uzbek goliath’ is misleading and the suggestion that an Uzbek/Russian military showdown in likely, maybe even imminent, is I would suggest way off beam. However, shorn of some of this sensationalism it does rightly raise the issue of Tashkent’s regional ambitions. Analysis too often regards the ‘stans as (1) victims of circumstance, (2) pawns or booty in geopolitical rivalries between Moscow, Beijing and Washington or (3) eagerly selling themselves to the highest bidder — but almost always essentially on a par with one another, as if there really isn’t a great difference between them. Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, in their different ways, have ambitions towards regional authority that will be worth watching in the future, though. In the current crisis in Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan can fear instability on its border (especially as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan starts to sift back into Central Asia and look for unstable, undercontrolled havens), resent the treatment of ethnic Uzbeks and see opportunities for influence all at the same time…
Posted by Mark Galeotti on June 15, 2010
The terrible new outburst of intercommunal violence in Kyrgyzstan is unexpected in detail, if not necessarily in outline. While ousted president Bakiyev’s initial attempts to raise an insurrection in the south flopped (commentators should be wary of the easy characterisation of the south as a ‘Bakiyev stronghold’), it is clear that the new governing coalition is failing to demonstrate one of the key requirements of rule in Kyrgyzstan, the ability to balance clan, ethnic and regional interests.
Posted by Mark Galeotti on June 13, 2010