past five years, real and present dangers to U.S. national
security, especially Islamist terrorism and threats to the energy
supply, have affected U.S. policy in Central Asia. The region has
great energy potential and is strategically important, but it is
land-locked, which complicates U.S. access and involvement there.
United States has varied and at times competing interests in
Central Asia. The region, which includes the five post-Soviet
states of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and
Uzbekistan, as well as Afghanistan and the Caspian basin,
plays an important part in U.S. global strategy in view of its
proximity to Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Iran, and other key
regional actors. No less important are its ethno-religious
composition and vast deposits of oil, gas, coal, and
in Central Asia can be summarized in three simple words: security,
energy, and democracy. The United States is waging an enduring
struggle to safeguard the West in general and America in
particular, not only from terrorist threats emanating from
Afghanistan, but also from overreliance on unstable sources of
hydrocarbons in the Middle East. In that effort, it is essential
that U.S. foreign policy not inflate the importance of one interest
to the detriment of the others.
U.S. national security concern is the diversification of
energy sources, and the Caspian region is a significant alternative
source of fossil fuels. To put things in perspective, however, it
must be noted that while the Caspian Sea's production levels are
considerable, with peak production comparable to that of Iraq
and Kuwait combined, they are much smaller than total Organization
of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) output.
levels are expected to reach 4 million barrels per day (bbl/d) in
2015, compared to 45 million bbl/d for the OPEC countries in that
Central Asia is neither the world's largest source of oil and gas
nor easily accessible; market access is hindered by political and
geographic conditions, including continued Russian influence,
limited access to waterways beyond the Caspian Sea, and limited
the region is clearly important geopolitically and
geoeconomically. Russia controls the majority of oil export routes
from reserves in Central Asia and the Caspian.
Nevertheless, prior and continuing efforts by major Western oil
companies, particularly the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC)
pipeline, as well as current and planned investments in the Central
Asian oil sector by India and China, have yielded more options for
non-Russian export routes and diversification of the customer base.
These developments may help to break the Russian energy-transit
monopoly, but they also open the region to intensified
competition over energy resources on the part of other
steadily increasing its involvement in the energy sector, as
demonstrated by the purchase of the PetroKazakhstan oil
company last year, acquisition of Canada-based Nations Energy by
China Interntional Trust and Investment Corporation (CITIC) in
the fall of 2006, and the signing of several significant pipeline
agreements. Russia and China have been cooperating to reduce U.S.
influence in the region and, as they accrue more Central
Asian energy assets, will have more leverage with which to prevent
U.S. encroachment into their alleged spheres of
needed in Central Asia is a policy that allows the United States to
continue to diversify its energy supplies, station its military
forces close to the most immediate threats, and create a lasting
and deep impact by promoting democratic and free-market values in
an area that is still undergoing political and economic
and lawmakers alike should assess how energy issues fit into wider
U.S. strategic interests in the region and develop balanced,
nuanced policies that allow the U.S. to stay engaged where
necessary while distancing itself from the less savory aspects of
these regimes. To achieve these ends, the U.S. should:
to increase and diversify non-Russian energy transit routes for
Central Asian oil and gas;
ties with Central Asian states to expand trade and security
relations with the U.S.;
encourage good governance, modern institutions, and legislative
reforms in Central Asia; and
nuanced approach to regimes with which the U.S. is not currently on
good terms, allowing for engagement to address top national
priorities, such as energy security and the global war on
hydrocarbon reserves of Central Asia are concentrated in the
Caspian region. Azerbaijan is therefore a principal actor, despite
its location in the Caucasus. It has considerable oil and gas
resources in its own right and is central to non-Russian
energy transit from Central Asia to points west. The bulk of
Central Asian-Caspian hydrocarbons is located in Kazakhstan,
Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan. Both Tajikistan and the
Kyrgyz Republic have limited reserves of oil and gas in amounts
that thus far have not warranted much attention from foreign
which shows proven and possible oil reserves by country,
demonstrates that the region's largest oil deposits as well as the
three largest regional oil projects are located in Kazakhstan and
Azerbaijan. These three projects are in the Tengiz and Karachaganak
fields in Kazakhstan and the Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli (deep-water)
field in Azerbaijan.
Each project includes Western oil majors as
(50 percent Chevron Texaco, 25 percent ExxonMobil, 20 percent
Consortium (32.5 percent each Agip and British Gas, 20 percent
Texaco, 15 percent LUKoil).
International Oil Company (operated by BP; other shareholders
are Unocal, LUKoil, Statoil, ExxonMobil, TPAO, Devon Energy,
Itochu, Delta Hess and SOCAR).
offshore reserves of Turkmen oil in the Caspian Sea have yet to be
explored or developed because of disputes between Turkmenistan,
Azerbaijan, and Iran over border delineation in the southern
portion of the sea.
oil pipelines in Central Asia include the following:
Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline (BTC), with a capacity of over 1
million barrels per day, which runs from the Azerbaijani coast of
the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean coast of Turkey. Its
major shareholders form a consortium that includes British
Petroleum (BP), SOCAR, Chevron, Statoil, Total, ENI, Itochu,
ConocoPhillips, and ExxonMobil.
"Northern" (Baku-Novorossiysk) and "Western" (Baku-Supsa)
Early Oil Pipelines, with capacities of 100,000 and 115,000 barrels
per day, respectively. These begin on the Azerbaijani coast of the
Caspian Sea and travel to the Russian port of Novorossiysk and the
Georgian Black Sea port at Supsa.
signed barge route agreement between Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan to
supply 10 million tons (approximately 733 million barrels) of
Kazakhstani oil per year initially to the Baku- Tbilisi-Ceyhan
a Russian-owned pipeline, which extends from Atyrau, Kazakhstan, to
Samara, Russia. Its current capacity is 300,000 bbl/day, but Russia
has pledged to increase its capacity to 500,000
Kazakhstan-China pipeline, the first stage of which connects the
Kazakh oil fields of Aktobe to the Kazakh oil hub of Atyrau and is
already complete. The second stage, which will run from Atasu
(northwestern Kazakhstan) to Alashkanou (Xinjiang, China) and will
cost an estimated $850 million and have initial and eventual
capacities of 200,000 bbl/d and 400,000 bbl/d, respectively, is
Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC), which connects Kazakh oil
deposits to the Russian port of Novorossiysk. It is owned and
operated by Western companies, as well as the Russian, Kazakh, and
Omani government-owned companies, and has a throughput
capacity of 560,000 bbl/d.
pipeline that runs from the Shymkent refinery in Kazakhstan to
Chardzhou, Turkmenistan (via Uzbekistan).
swap agreement between Turkmenistan and Iran whereby Turkmen oil is
delivered to the Iranian port of Neka via barge.
estimated that the oil fields of Central Asia are capable of
producing about 4 million barrels per day in 2015, roughly
equivalent to the daily production levels of Iraq and Kuwait
Possible future oil pipeline projects include the Central Asia Oil
Pipeline (CAOP) and the Kazakhstan-China pipeline,
construction of which is already underway.
in December 2002, the governments of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and
Pakistan signed a Memorandum of Understanding to construct the
Central Asia Oil Pipeline, which would bring Uzbek and Turkmen oil
to Gwadar, Pakistan, on the Arabian Sea. However, this project has
been delayed by continued instability in Afghanistan.
Central Asian countries with the largest reserves of natural gas
are Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, although there are considerable
amounts of gas in Kazakhstan (particularly the Karachaganak field
in western Kazakhstan) and Azerbaijan (Shah Deniz). (See Table
Asian gas transit routes that are not controlled by Russia are
scarce and are currently limited to the as yet unfinished
Baku-Tbilisi-Erzerum pipeline, from Azerbaijan to Turkey, and
Korpedzhe-Kurt-Kui, which is short, extending only from
Turkmenistan to Iran. Future projects are hindered by
heightened political risk and an unfriendly investment
than Korpedzhe-Kurt-Kui, all Turkmen and Uzbek natural gas exports
are controlled by Gazprom, and almost all Turkmen gas is exported
to Russia via Uzbekistan or to Ukraine via Russia. Existing gas
Central Asia-Center Pipeline, which routes Turkmen gas to Russia
via Kazakhstan into Gazprom's system of gas pipelines. Its East and
West Branches have an annual capacity of 3.53 trillion cubic feet,
and there are plans to expand capacity by 2009.
is a joint project of the Turkmen and Iranian governments to bring
Turkmen gas to Iran. It is the first non-Russian gas pipeline in
Central Asia and has an annual capacity of close to 300 billion
cubic feet (bcf).
is Russian-owned and brings Uzbek gas to southern Kazakhstan. It is
Uzbekistan's major gas export pipeline and is also used to deliver
gas to Kyrgyzstan. Its capacity is approximately 777
gas transit projects include the Trans-Afghan Pipeline (TAP) and
the South Caucasus (Baku-Tbilisi-Erzerum, or BTE) Pipeline. The TAP
will bring gas from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to
Fazilka, a port on the Indian-Pakistani border. The
governments of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan signed a
Memorandum of Understanding in February of 2006 for
construction of the pipeline, and it also has strong backing from
India. American officials are promoting the TAP, which will be
renamed TAPI when India signs on, as an alternative to the
Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline. However, instability in
Afghanistan and questions surrounding the commercial viability
of the project, which has a planned annual capacity of 1.1 bcf,
have far delayed its implementation.
is currently under construction. It will run parallel to the BTC
oil pipeline from the Shah Deniz gas fields in Azerbaijan to Greece
and presumably will then be linked to Nabucco, a planned gas
pipeline to bring Central Asian and Caspian gas through Greece,
Italy, and Austria. The BTE's planned initial capacity is 1.5
bcf/yr, to be increased to 3 bcf/yr by 2007. Major shareholders
include BP, Statoil, SOCAR, LukAgip, Nico (Iran), and
investments have made some inroads into the Central Asian oil
industry, but the same is not true of the gas sector. The leaders
of the biggest gas-producing countries-Turkmenistan and
Uzbekistan-are not friendly with the U.S., and their investment
climates are similarly unwelcoming.
in most of Central Asia, local economies are characterized by
excessive government intervention, corruption, weak corporate
governance, insufficient legislative frameworks, and
incompetent, corrupt court systems. They exhibit a systemic
failure to protect property rights.
they generally lack transport infrastructure that is not
controlled by Russia. Yet Russia is doing its best to prevent
foreign firms either from accessing its vast gas pipeline network
or from building competing pipeline networks. If multiple gas
pipelines connecting Central Asia to outside markets are built,
competitive bidding by companies from energy-consuming
countries along with increases in both production and demand could
drive up prices for Central Asian gas. Both investors in and
consumers of Central Asian and Caspian oil and gas would
derive great benefit from the increases in exploration,
development, extraction, and production that have resulted from
increased foreign direct investment in the region.
benefits have yet to be seen, however, because the Central Asian
natural gas sector has received very little outside investment
until recently. Russia, through Gazprom, continues to profit from
its position as the largest recipient of gas exports from Central
Asia. Gazprom buys Central Asian gas at prices as low as
one-quarter to one-third of market prices in Europe and then
resells gas at market rates. In 2003, Turkmenistan signed an
agreement to sell almost all of its gas to Russia starting in
however, China also has expressed interest in Turkmen gas. On
April 3, 2006, the leaders of the two countries signed a deal
whereby an export pipeline will be built from Turkmenistan to China
and China will buy 30 billion cubic meters (bcm) of Turkmen gas
every year for 30 years beginning in 2009.
On the surface, this Chinese-Turkmen deal seems to bode well for
the foreign investment climate in Central Asia; however,
suspicions abound that Turkmenistan may be overestimating its
reserves of natural gas.
Thus, there is speculation that Turkmenistan, in making its deal
with China, may have oversold its reserves.
This very feasible possibility highlights the lack of transparency
in Central Asia's oil and gas markets.
difficulties abound in Uzbekistan. Although foreign firms have
expressed an interest in Uzbekistan, its natural gas sector remains
largely closed to all comers except for Russia. Uzbekneftegaz
had a production-sharing agreement with the British firm Trinity
Energy, but Uzbekneftegaz broke the deal in 2005, alleging that the
subsidiary company created to carry out the deal had not lived up
to its end of the agreement.
then, Uzbekistan has been working more closely with Gazprom,
signing a deal to provide Russia with up to 350 bcf annually,
giving Gazprom access to gas fields in the Ustyurt region, and
updating dilapidated gas pipelines.
In January 2006, Gazprom CEO Aleksei Miller signed a deal with
Uzbek President Islam Karimov to transfer three of Uzbekistan's
largest gas fields-Urga, Kuanysh, and Akchalak-to Gazprom, in
effect giving the firm a monopoly over the export of Uzbek gas.
Some analysts suggest that Karimov is courting Russian favor in
exchange for Russian assistance with regime security.
Uzbekistan are not prime targets for most foreign investors.
Neither country has yet implemented any substantial economic
reforms, and both can be described as abysmal in terms of
transparency and rule of law. The U.S. Department of State warns
that "The government of Turkmenistan has a history of capricious
and arbitrary expropriation of property of local businesses
and individuals, including foreign investors…."
Furthermore, poor relations between Uzbekistan and the West, and
with the United States in particular, preclude most opportunities
for investment by Western firms.
Magnets: Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan
contrast, U.S. involvement with Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan has been
successful. In both countries, Western investment has been not
only allowed, but facilitated by local governments, with a
commensurate increase in per capita GDP and overall standards of
living. Both countries are also now economically competitive in
energy sectors on an international level.
independence, Kazakhstan has received higher levels of foreign
direct investment per capita than any other Commonwealth of
Independent States (CIS) country.
Investment in Azerbaijan rose by more than 30 percent between 2003
Both countries benefit from healthy levels of growth and foreign
direct investment and have greater access to hydrocarbon export
routes that do not go through and are not controlled by Russia.
Although both countries have a long way to go to be considered
mature democracies, their potential is undeniable, as can be seen
with their more positive attitudes toward democracy, civil
society, and the West compared to prevailing attitudes in
Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
countries' success in attracting foreign direct investment in their
oil and gas sectors is due to privatization and reform efforts, as
well as openness to Western oil majors,
although certain regulations, such as quotas on foreign
employees and domestic content requirements, continue to deter
Courting investment from a wider range of interested parties and
enhancing competitiveness in their energy markets, both
countries serve as an effective counterweight against pressure from
Russia and China, and both have used this counterweight to their
Allure of Central Asia
are many political risks to doing business in Central Asia. As
previously mentioned, property rights, transparency, and law
enforcement are still in the process of development in these
countries. Corruption is endemic, as are human rights
violations. None of these issues deters Russian or
Chinese investments, making competition in the area more
difficult for Western firms that seek investment guarantees.
Furthermore, Russia is making every effort to keep Western
investments out of its former sphere of influence.
particularly in terms of Islamist terrorism and radicalism
(the Islamic Movement of Turkestan, the global Hizb'ut Tahrir,
Akramiyya of Uzbekistan, and other organizations), is a pressing
issue for all of Central Asia's governments and may pose serious
risks for potential investors in energy and vulnerable energy
these political vulnerabilities, investors and governments in the
U.S., the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Russia, China, and the
Middle East still seem eager to lay claim to the hydrocarbon
resources of Central Asia. One of the most attractive features
of Central Asian oil and gas is that there are deposits that have
yet to be explored or developed, and the national governments are
reliant on foreign investors to provide the capital to
undertake such costly projects.
considerations are another key concern as Central Asia
continues to evolve as a highly important strategic area,
especially for the U.S., Russia, China, Iran, and India.
Political instability in other major oil- and gas-producing
locations-the Middle East, Venezuela, and Nigeria-and
increasing economic nationalism in Russia are also fueling the
drive to claim a share of Central Asian resources.
access to Central Asian (specifically Turkmen) natural gas is key
to its domination of the European natural gas market,
primarily because of concerns, both within and outside of Russia,
that Gazprom's production levels will not be sufficient to uphold
its end of gas export deals. At present, it appears that Gazprom's
natural gas export obligations cannot be met by Russian
production alone, and future gas obligations, including a deal to
provide China with 80 bcm of gas annually, will also require
that Russia have access to the bulk of Turkmenistan's and
Uzbekistan's production. As noted, this may be particularly
problematic in light of Turkmenistan's recent deal with China,
which seemingly involves selling twice as much of the same gas
study of the Russian gas industry gives the following annual
projections: Russian annual gas production will be 665 bcm,
domestic demand will be roughly 479 bcm, exports to the European
Union (EU) will be around 161 bcm, exports to the CIS are projected
at 80 bcm, and exports to Asia are projected at 24 bcm. To meet its
export obligations, Russia will have to import 79 bcm from
producers in Central Asia.
Russia therefore has an incentive to maintain its close political
and trade ties with Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan in the
years to come.
Kazakhstan has been and will likely continue to be open to a
diverse range of investors, while Turkmenistan has already begun
increasing the price of its natural gas. As export opportunities
for the Central Asian states increase, not only will gas prices go
up, but supply may be redirected to countries other than Russia
that may not demand the same discounted prices that Russia does. In
2005, Russia was paying $44 per 1,000 cubic meters of Turkmen
natural gas-five times below European gas market prices, which
hovered around $220-$250.
Policy in Central Asia: Energy and Beyond
is unlikely to become a single dominant power in Central Asia, nor
is there any reason why it should attempt to achieve such a status.
Realistic goals-energy security; proximity to the main
theaters of operation in the war on terrorism,
Afghanistan and Pakistan; combating the traffic in drugs,
weapons, and weapons of mass destruction technology; and
encouraging participatory and transparent social and economic
development-require a sustainable engagement. This is especially
the case as the U.S. focuses its resources and attention elsewhere,
primarily in the Middle East.
strategic location of the region and the intense global competition
over its energy reserves will, to a certain extent, keep the U.S.
involved. U.S. engagement is particularly constricted by uneasy
relations with current Central Asian regimes, whose authoritarian
tendencies are of no consequence to Russia, China, Iran, or even
the U.S. had the capacity to limit the presence of other large
powers in the region, to do so would be unwise. First of all, the
primary U.S. goals in the region are energy security and
proximity to terrorist threats, not outright control.
Limiting other powers in the region is unnecessary and would
be a grave mistake, just as it was an error for the U.S. to support
an oil and steel embargo on Japan in the 1930s, triggering Japanese
expansion in the Pacific.
The U.S. and other great powers share the goals of stability,
economic development, and preventing religious radicalization and
terrorism. Rather than openly antagonizing China, Russia,
or India over their involvement in Central Asia, the U.S. should
pursue the benefits to be derived from regional
the unappealing nature of the region's authoritarian regimes,
Chinese and Russian backing of these governments contributes
to their short-term stability, staving off political crises.
Political disintegration in any of these countries would have
severe consequences for regional security, because they are for the
most part impoverished, dissatisfied, largely Muslim, and thus
susceptible to recruitment by fundamentalist Islamic groups.
Furthermore, heroin trafficking is a serious problem in all of
Central Asia, particularly Afghanistan and Tajikistan, and the
collapse of any of the states would allow for even more prolific
smuggling in narcotics, people, and possibly even nuclear
weapons components. Overriding strategic imperatives suggest
that it might be best to tread lightly until the region finds a
measure of stability that allows for change without
for the U.S. to play a more influential role in the region is
through the use of partners, such as India. As India is a U.S.
strategic partner, a stable democracy, and a growing economic
power, a greater Indian presence in the region may be beneficial
for U.S. interests. India is refurbishing a former Soviet air base
in Tajikistan (Ayni), which is intended as part of an effort to
contribute to stability in Afghanistan and to battle Islamist
terrorism in Central Asia.
Both goals are shared by the United States.
lend its support to increasing export options for Central Asian oil
and natural gas. In addition to helping to break up the Russian
natural gas transit monopoly, this would contribute to
economic growth, stability, and improved relations between the
pipeline transit countries of India, Pakistan, and
Afghanistan, which is in U.S. interests.
vital that the U.S. maintain and expand a multifaceted presence in
Central Asia. The benefits of U.S. involvement accrue to both
sides: The U.S. can protect its security, military, and
geopolitical interests and its energy access while helping to
promote the development of democracy and civil society in Central
Asia. The developing nations of Eurasia can gain access to
much-needed U.S. investment, security assistance, and global
integration above and beyond what they are offered by Russia,
China, India, and Iran.
to U.S. Energy Interests
challenge in promoting U.S. energy interests worldwide,
including in Central Asia, is the high level of corruption in the
state-run energy sectors. A recent report by the London-based
Global Witness on the Turkmen-Ukraine gas trade "poses a
difficult question for the EU and its neighbours: can they
meet their energy needs without feeding corruption and undermining
good governance in the countries that supply or transport this
This question could refer to other regions as well, including
the Middle East.
answer to that question, in Central Asia as well as in the Middle
East, is a qualified "no." This applies to both corruption and
human rights abuses. Some argue that it would be unwise to
sacrifice U.S. energy and security interests because of
difficulty in dealing with regimes that do not share U.S. values.
After all, such regimes are the majority among oil producers. This
is a real challenge to U.S. policymakers.
recent U.S. experience with criticism of President Islam Karimov of
Uzbekistan over the Andijon massacre, in which the Uzbek military
opened fire on armed Islamists as well as civilian protestors, is a
case in point. This criticism provoked a harsh Uzbek response
that resulted in the loss of both a strategic relationship and U.S.
access to the Karshi-Khanabad air base. This incident can be seen
as a valuable learning opportunity for U.S. policymakers.
Intransigence on the issue of democracy development to the
exclusion of other U.S. national interests and priorities has not
served the U.S. well in Uzbekistan and has led to an
overreliance on the Manas International Airport air base in
Kyrgyzstan, which comes with an annual price tag in the $150
the high cost of human rights priorities, a more relevant question
in this climate of energy insecurity and tight energy markets
would be: "How can the U.S. successfully balance its security,
energy, and human rights priorities in a way that maximizes U.S.
interests?" The U.S. needs to stay engaged with the leaders of most
states and with elites, political parties, and the people in
Central Asia. Only through this sort of engagement will the U.S.
begin to rebuild its former status as friend and model to these
countries, as opposed to an external superpower
determined to topple regimes in the region.
staying engaged and persistent, the U.S. may be able to make
serious progress on achieving its objectives in Central Asia, which
of intra-regional conflicts and support of political,
economic, and security cooperation in the interest of
fostering regional stability and economic
of transparent, law-based economic development based on market
to the development of communications, transportation, health,
and human services infrastructure;
and promotion of U.S. businesses and investments;
of an independent, transparent, and responsible government in each
and protection of human rights, tolerance, and
Should Be Done
achieve these goals, the National Security Council should
coordinate activities by the U.S. State Department, Department of
Defense, Department of Energy, and other departments to pursue
the following policies:
to encourage the
governments of India, China, and Pakistan to create alternatives to
the Russian energy transit monopoly by establishing new energy
transit routes (pipelines, shipping lines, and railroads) that
head west and, in some cases, east and south.
corporations to diversify energy transit routes to mitigate
risk. This is a common interest of the U.S., members of the EU, and
ties to Central Asian states by stressing mutual gains from Western
investment, military presence, and security cooperation.
economic and legislative reform in order to attract and protect
foreign investors and spur economic growth;
reform activities with international financial institutions
and programs administered by the members of the EU, such as the
British Know-How Fund;
military-to-military, intelligence, anti-terrorism, and law
enforcement relationships; and
democratic and civil society institutions through programs
administered by the National Endowment of Democracy and
nuanced approach to states whose leaders are not amenable to
cooperation with the U.S., specifically Turkmenistan and
common security interests, especially fighting Islamist terrorism,
and pursue military-to-military cooperation when it is in U.S.
energy cooperation, including private-sector investment projects
and transit (pipeline) projects that enhance hydrocarbon
supply to global markets;
secular or moderate Islamic democratic opposition parties or
figures (who necessarily must be opposed to any jihadi or
terrorist-extremist sponsor states or organizations) without openly
pursuing regime change;
and encourage possibilities for stability-enhancing dialogue
between existing regimes and democratic and moderate Islamic
opposition groups to facilitate the opening of the political
where necessary, in public information campaigns to criticize
existing leaderships and expose their abuses; and
against Islamist backlash by supporting recognition and
dialogue between existing regimes and secular opposition groups and
other legitimate, non-destabilizing political
Central Asian political, economic, and security interests are not
mutually exclusive and may be better achieved through cooperation
than through confrontation. Development and security of supply and
transit is one such common interest that needs to be
seeing eye-to-eye on every issue should not prevent states from
working together to attain shared goals. Even if relations between
the U.S. and Central Asian states or Russia are at a post-Soviet
low point, common interests such as energy development,
fighting terrorism, and limiting nuclear non-proliferation should
be pursued and cultivated.
and assistance contribute to the economic, political, social, and
security development of the states of Central Asia. The United
States should remain as engaged as possible in the region. Given
recent tensions concerning values, preferred economic models, and
political systems, such engagement will be complex. Continuous
dialogue with regional actors, as well as with Russia, China,
the European Union and its key members, Japan, and India, is
required to coordinate policies and prevent crises.
will demand give-and-take on both sides, and the U.S. may find that
getting concessions requires making concessions. As the greater and
more influential power, however, the U.S. may find it necessary at
times to make the first move.
Cohen, Ph.D., is Senior Research Fellow in Russian
and Eurasian Studies and International Energy Security in the
Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies, a
division of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for
International Studies, at The Heritage Foundation. The author
wishes to thank Conway Irwin for help in researching and
preparing this paper.