http://www.nbr.org - NBR - The National Bureau of Asian Research

Central Asia: State Building in the Face of Insurgent Islam

Gregory M. Gleason

The moderate Muslim states of Central Asia have a critical role to play in the war on terrorism. Notwithstanding their importance, the establishment of U.S. bases, expanded U.S. aid programs, and the conduct of Operation Enduring Freedom has not been sensitive to these countries’ political agendas. Lingering instability in Afghanistan poses crucial problems for eliminating terrorist networks in Central Asia, as well as confronting the northward flow of drugs. Following several years of close ties with the United States, Central Asian states have indicated a willingness to work among themselves to solve regional problems, while at the same time reorienting their strategic relationships toward Russia. U.S. policy should continue to support Central Asian states in their struggle against terrorism, and increase emphasis on the vital importance of normalization of Afghanistan for Central Asian stability.