Thursday, April 30, 2015

Courting Central Asia

The U.S. Department of State's New Silk Road Strategy is long on talk but short on results. The United States is pushing for regional stability in Central Asia while Russia - coming in from the west tries to increase its influence; and China - coming in from the east is promoting its economic infrastructure development with its own "New Silk Road" initiative. The Central Asian states are hedging their bets - broadening their security efforts beyond the small assurance that the current Obama administration is providing. In the later part of April 2015 elite special forces units from Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan were conducting joint military exercises in northern Kyrgyzstan. The exercises were intended to practice fighting illegal armed groups and terrorists. In addition, the establishment by China (joined by many other nations) of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is an important factor. The AIIB is a direct competitor to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that is dominated by the United States. This new financial institution will provide an opportunity for China to increase its influence within Central Asia. The United States influence and standing in the Central Asian states is slowly slipping in comparison to the growing interest of Russia and China in the region. Read more in "How China is 'Winning' Central Asia", by John C. K. Daly, Silk Road Reporters, April 29, 2015.

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