Tuesday, 01 March 2005 11:52

A ‘Greater Central Asia Partnership’ for Afghanistan and Its Neighbors

 

2005GCA-coverSilk Road Paper

By S. Frederick Starr

March 2005

 

Click to Download PDF file

 

Executive Summary

Afghanistan is approaching a turning point. Security is increasing, institutional renewal is progressing, the economy is growing, and an open political system is taking root at both local and national levels. It is no exaggeration to declare that Afghanistan is emerging as the first major victory in the international war on terrorism. But victory should mark not just an end—in this case to civil chaos – but also a beginning. To now, America has scarcely considered what further vistas victory may open, let alone how it should respond to them. This is the urgent need of the moment.

This paper proposes that progress in Afghanistan has opened a stunning new prospect that was barely perceived, if at all, when Operation Enduring Freedom was launched. This prospect is to assist in the transformation of Afghanistan and the entire region of which it is the heart into a zone of secure sovereignties sharing viable market economies, secular and relatively open systems of governance, respecting citizens’ rights, and maintaining positive relations with the U.S..

The emergence of this zone, referred to herein as “Greater Central Asia,” will roll back the forces that give rise to extremism and enhance continental security. It will bring enormous benefit to all the countries and peoples of the region, and, significantly, also to major powers nearby, notably Russia, China, and India, At the same time, it directly promotes U.S. interests by serving as an attractive model for developing Muslim societies elsewhere. Thus, the emergence of Greater Central Asia will open grand vistas that defy the usual zero-sum thinking.

Many of the greatest threats to Afghanistan today are regional in character:

  1.  Instability exists to the east and southeast, and could arise from countries to the west or north if evolutionary processes are thwarted there or if any single outside power expands its influence and control in the region at the expense of a reasonable balance among them. Any such instability is bound to involve global powers.
  2. Also, many of the domestic challenges facing Afghanistan, including issues of security, governance, economics, and culture, are regional in character, and not purely national.

If significant foreign and domestic challenges facing the new Afghanistan are regional in scope, so are the solutions. Only a regional approach will enable Afghanistan to take advantage of the many commonalities and complementarities that exist between it and its neighbors.

The major potential engine of positive change for Afghanistan and its immediate and more distance neighbors is the revival of regional and continental transport and trade. The arrangements that make possible such trade exist only in embryonic form today.

To minimize the threats and maximize the potential, the U.S. must adopt a strategy very different from that which guided its forces in 2002, one that is framed in terms of long-term objectives rather than immediate needs. These objectives include:

1.  Advance the war against terrorism and terrorist groups, building U.S.-linked security infrastructures (including necessary U.S. basing arrangements) on a national and regional basis, basing these on perceived mutual interests, and in such a way that the U.S. can use its presence there to respond to crisis in proximate regions such as South Asia and the Middle East.

2. Enable Afghanistan and its neighbors to protect themselves against radical Islamist groups, both foreign and domestic.

3. Assure that no single state or movement, external or internal, dominates the region of which Afghanistan is a part, and those resources which are its economic base.

4. Strengthen sovereignties by continuing to develop the Afghan economy and society and by strengthening trade and other ties between Afghanistan and its neighbors in the region.

5. Foster open, participatory, and rights-based political systems that can serve as attractive models for other countries with Muslim populations.

To pursue these objectives the U.S. should:

1. Adopt a “post-post 9:11 strategy that realigns all existing programs in Afghanistan and its neighbors with long-term goals and not just with the urgent but short-term needs that dominated after 9:11.

2. Adopt a systematic region-wide approach to U.S. security and developmental programs in Afghanistan and neighboring states.

3. Establish a permanent “Greater Central Asia Partnership for Cooperation and Development” (hereafter “GCAP”), led by a senior officer of the Department of State, that will coordinate and integrate the U.S.’ bilateral and region-wide programs in diverse fields, including economic and social development, governance, trade, counter-narcotics, anti-corruption, democracy, and transparency, as well as security. The GCAP should be proposed as a U.S. government entity but should be transformed, if the participants so desire, into an independent, multinational organization.

4. Engage Afghanistan and all regional states in GCAP activity as partners and on an a la carte basis.

5. Open GCAP activities to participation by other donor countries, as well to observers from other states with which the U.S. maintains normal relations.

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News

  • New Article Series on Changing Geopolitics of Central Asia and the Caucasus
    Wednesday, 24 November 2021 11:53

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  • CACI Initiative on Religion and the Secular State in Central Asia and the Caucasus
    Sunday, 24 January 2021 13:53

    In 2016, the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program launched an initiative on documenting the interrelationship of religion and the secular state in the region. This initiative departed from the fact that little systematic reserch had been undertaken on the subject thus far. While there was and remains much commentary and criticism of religious policy in the region, there was no comprehensive analysis available on the interrelationship of religion and the state in any regional state, let alone the region as a whole. The result of this initiative has been the publication of six Silk Road Papers studying the matter in regional states, with more to come. In addition, work is ongoing on a volume putting the regional situation in the context of the Muslim world as a whole.

     

    Case Studies

    Each study below can be freely downloaded in PDF format.

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    Azerbaijan's Formula: Secular Governance and Civil Nationhood
    By Svante E. Cornell, Halil Karaveli, and Boris Ajeganov
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    2018-04-Kazakhstan-SecularismReligion and the Secular State in Kazakhstan
    By Svante E. Cornell, S. Frederick Starr and Julian Tucker
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    1806-UZ-coverReligion and the Secular State in Uzbekistan
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    2006-Engvall-coverReligion and the Secular State in Kyrgyzstan
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     Event video online

     

    2006-Clement-coverReligion and the Secular State in Turkmenistan
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    Articles and Analyses

    Svante E. Cornell, "Religion and the State in Central Asia," in Ilan Berman, ed., Wars of Ideas: Theology, Interpretation and Power in the Muslim World, Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2021.

    Svante E. Cornell, "Central Asia: Where Did Islamic Radicalization Go?" in Religion, Conflict and Stability in the Former Soviet Union, eds. Katya Migacheva and Bryan Frederick, Arlington, VA: RAND Corporation, 2018.

  • Basic Principles for the Rehabilitation of Azerbaijan's Post-Conflict Territories
    Wednesday, 07 October 2020 09:01

    Rehab-coverIn 2010, the CACI-SRSP Joint Center cooperated with Eldar Ismailov and Nazim Muzaffarli of the Institute for Strategic Studies of the Caucasus to produce a study of the methodology and process for the rehabilitation of the occupied territories in Azerbaijan. The study was written in the hope that it would prove useful in the aftermath of a negotiated solution to the conflict.

    Such a resolution nevertheless did not materialize. At present, however, it appears that some of these territories are returning to Azerbaijani control as a result of the military conflict that began in late September, 2020. While it is regrettable that this did not come to pass as a result of negotiations, it is clear that the challenge of rehabilitating territories is as pressing today as it would be in the event of a peaceful resolution - if not more, given the likelihood that such a solution would have included a time-table and provided the Government of Azerbaijan and international institutions time for planning.

    It is clear that the study is a product of a different time, as much has changed since 2010. We fully expcect many updates and revisions to be needed should the recommendations in this study be implemented today. That said, we believe the methodoloy of the study and its conclusions remain relevant and would therefore like to call attention to this important study, published in English, Russian and Azerbaijani versions.

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    BASIC PRINCIPLES FOR THE REHABILITATION OF AZERBAIJAN’S POST-CONFLICT TERRITORIES

     

  • Resources on the Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict
    Monday, 05 October 2020 08:19

    Resources on the Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict

     

    The Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program have a long track record of covering the Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict. This page presents the key resources and most recent analysis. 

    In 2017, Palgrave published the first book-length study of the International Politics of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict, edited by Svante Cornell. The book concluded by arguing that if international efforts to resolve the conflict are not stepped up, “the ‘four-day’ war of April 2016 will appear a minor skirmish compared to what is sure to follow”.

    In 2015, CACI & SRSP released the Silk Road Paper  “A Western Strategy for the South Caucasus”, which included a full page of recommendations for the U.S. and EU on the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict. These are reproduced below:

    ------------------

    Develop a substantial and prolonged Western initiative on the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict.

    o This initiative must be led by the United States, in close consultation with its European partners – primarily the EU Commission and External Action Service, and France. Barring some process to reinvigorate the Minsk Process – a doubtful proposition given Western-Russian relations in the foreseeable future – Western leaders must be prepared to bypass that process, utilizing it where appropriate but focusing their initiative on developing direct negotiations between the Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders.

    o The U.S. and its European partners must abandon the practice of relying solely on the Minsk Group co-chairs to resolve the Karabakh conflict. These diplomats have contributed greatly to formulating a workable framework agreement. However, strong and sustained U.S. Government leadership from the top level is needed to complement or, failing that, to replace the Minsk Process. In practice, this means the expressed support of the President, involvement of the White House, and leadership manifested in the appointment of a distinguished citizen as Special Envoy for the resolution of the conflict.

    o The EU must take a more clearly defined and substantial role in the process, by integrating to the highest degree possible the French co-chairmanship of the Minsk Group with EU institutions. While Washington will need to take the lead on the political side, it would be natural for the EU to take the lead in organizing an international development program for the currently occupied Azerbaijani provinces and Karabakh itself. That effort, too, would need to be led by a senior EU figure.

    --------------------------------------------

    In 2011, CACI & SRSP helped launch an extensive study of the steps needed for the post-conflict rehabilitation of Azerbaijan's occupied territories, in cooperation with Eldar Ismailov and Nazim Muzaffarli of the Institute for Strategic Studies of the Caucasus. The monograph "Basic Principles for the Rehabilitation of Azerbaijan's Post-Conflict Territories" can be accessed here

     

    More background resources:

    Svante E. Cornell, "Can America Stop a Wider War Between Armenia and Azerbaijan?", The National Interest, October 2020

    Brenda Shaffer and Svante E. Cornell, Occupied Elsewhere: Selective Policies on Occupation, Foundation For Defense of Democracies, January 2020. 

    Brenda Shaffer and Svante E. Cornell, "The U.S. Needs to Declare War on Proxies", Foreign Policy, January 27, 2020

    Svante E. Cornell, “The Raucous Caucasus”, American Interest, May 2017

    Svante E. Cornell, Small Nations and Great Powers: A Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict in the Caucasus, RoutledgeCurzon, 2001.

    Svante E. Cornell, The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict, Uppsala University, 1999

    More recent analysis:

    Turkey Seeks to Counter Russia in the Black Sea-Caucasus Region,” Turkey Analyst, 10/5/20, Emil Avdaliani

    Turkey’s Commitment to Azerbaijan’s Defense Shows the Limits of Ankara’s Tilt to Moscow,” Turkey Analyst, 9/25/20, Turan Suleymanov & Bahruz Babayev

     “Cross-Border Escalation between Armenia and Azerbaijan,” Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst, 9/25/20, Natalia Konarzewska

    Russia and Turkey: Behind the Armenia-Azerbaijan Clashes?”, Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst, 8/31/20, Avinoam Idan

    Armenia and the U.S.: Time for New Thinking?”, Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst, 10/2/19, Eduard Abrahamyan.

    Why Washington Must Re-Engage the CaucasusCentral Asia-Caucasus Analyst, 7/8/19, Stephen Blank

    Azerbaijan’s Defense Industry Reform”, Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst, 5/7/19, Tamerlan Vahabov.

    Military Procurements on Armenia's and Azerbaijan's Defense Agendas”, Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst, 3/27/19, Ilgar Gurbanov

    Armenia's New Government Struggles with Domestic and External Opposition,” Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst, 3/20/19, Armen Grigorian.

    Bolton's Caucasian Tour and Russia's Reaction”, Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst, 12/17/18, Eduard Abrahamyan.