Environment and Security

Environment and Security / 11

Introduction / Regional context

The Saihun River commonly known as the Wa- ter of Khujand, comes into the country from the northeast, flows westward through it and after passing along the north of Khujand and the south of Fanakat, now known as Shahrukhiya, turns directly northand goes to Turkistan. It does not join any sea but sinks into the sands.

Regional context The situation of the Ferghana valley can only be under- stood within the broader context of the three countries – Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – which meet in the valley. In this chapter we will look at some of the over- all trends characterizing Central Asia since the end of the Soviet Union. Political and security factors With the collapse of the Soviet Union the newly independent states of Central Asia had to face several major challenges, in particular the creation of a national identity . Although the Soviet Union had already promoted a sense of national identity and distinctiveness, national agendas developed further after independence, making the defence of per- ceived national interest a reflex response when dealing with regional issues. Central Asian states have consequently preferred bilateral, case-by-case solutions so far. This has exacerbated competition between regional players and reduced the impact of regional cooperation institutions and initiatives. On the other hand case-by-case mechanisms have also prevented interstate crises from escalating into open violent conflict. With independence it was also necessary to determine and stabilize the complex national borders inherited from tsarist and Soviet administrations. The presence of seven enclaves 3 in the Ferghana valley increases the complexity of the border question. Though states have generally solved the main questions, within the Ferghana valley there are still several unresolved questions related to border delimitation and demarcation. Several factors have heightened Central Asian regimes’ sense of insecurity: armed incursions by opposition groups harboured by neighbouring countries; penetration by transnational organized crime networks (drugs, arms, human trafficking); the alleged success of radical Islamic organizations such as the Hizb-ut-Tahrir or Bayot (“Oath”), mainly in specific areas of the Ferghana valley. Stability and security are consequently high on the political agenda . Central Asian states, their main neighbours and the US share a similar interest in security. The “war on terrorism”

that followed the US-led intervention in Afghanistan has added to this concern.

The states of Central Asia have mainly joined multilateral regional organizations such as the Central Asia Coopera- tion 4 , the CIS Collective Security Treaty and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to strengthen cooperation in the fight against terrorism, extremism and trans-border organ- ized crime but also to promote economic cooperation and trade. At the same time the legitimate need to establish state control over national territory and the security agenda outlined above encouraged states in the region to pursue unilateral policies, with increased militarization of border areas such as the one in the Ferghana area. Establishing checkpoints has already prompted armed violence in 2002- 3 in the Batken (Kyrgyzstan) and Isfara (Tajikistan) regions, after which the authorities had to back off (Oxford Analytica, Daily Brief, 14.01.2005). Central Asian states are multicultural countries, each with its own national minorities in other states (including China) 5 . Managing minorities is not only an issue of concern within states but also between them. The international borders between sovereign states, following independence, not only hinder the ordinary flow of goods and people, but also contribute to shaping or at least reinforcing ethnic identity . Language and alphabet 6 policies and changes not only affect the relations of minorities with the titular state, but also contribute to the fragmentation process affecting present-day Central Asia. Islam has for a long time been part of the Central Asian culture. Under Russian imperial and later Soviet rule Islam was in many ways isolated from Islamic development in the rest of the world. Official policies on Islam changed over time, from efforts to undermine it to a more accom- modating stance, with officially approved clerics, after World War II. The result of Soviet policies was secularisa- tion to a significant extent, although this was coupled with a popular identification with Islam as somewhat more of an ethnic/identity determinant than an indicator of reli- gious belief or practice. After independence, both the new states and society groups have used Islam as a vector of

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