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  • Affiliation : Senior Associate, Central Asia-Caucasus Institute and Silk Road Studies Program Joint Center, Johns Hopkins University
  • Affiliation : Director, Bylim Karvoni Nongovernental Research and Training Center
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International Security Index iSi decreased to 2771 points. Karaveli, Tolipov comment events of the week.

22.10.2013

MOSCOW, OCTOBER 22, 2013. PIR PRESS “Even though Syria remains in a state of civil war, and even though Egypt represents a very worrisome development, as I pointed out above, there is nonetheless reason to be somewhat optimistic and expect that the security situation in the Middle East will be at least "manageable"; that is because the United States and Russia are cooperating (on Syria) and because the United States and Iran have both demonstrated a willingness to turn a new page in their relationship. So, looking ahead for at least for a few months, I think there is going to be a "window of opportunity" to take steps that can lay the foundations of an improved security climate in the Middle East. But there is no guarantee that this opportunity is not going to be wasted”, - Halil Karaveli, Senior Fellow with the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program Joint Center.

 During the week of October 14-21, 2013, the International Security Index iSi decreased to 2771 points. In Syria, the fighting between the army and the opposition consumed the suburbs of Damascus; in the north-east province of El Hasikov Kurds fought with Islamists. In Egypt activists for the Muslim Brotherhood held rallies and protests. Negotiations between Iran and the six international mediators took place in Geneva, in which Tehran presented a new plan for resolving the dispute over its nuclear program. On the India-Pakistan border there were various skirmishes, resulting in the death of one Indian soldier. Terrorist attacks occurred in Afghanistan, Iraq, Thailand, Myanmar, Yemen, Egypt and Somalia. The U.S. Senate approved a bill that raised the national debt ceiling and finally ended the government shutdown. In Italy, Greece, and Spain, there were strikes against state economic policy. Earthquake in the Philippines, a train crash in Argentina, floods in Thailand rounded out the week’s bad news.

Comments on the week's events by members of the International Expert Group of the PIR Center

Halil Karaveli (Turkey-Sweden) – Senior Fellow with the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program Joint Center – by e-mail from Stockholm: The global and regional (Middle East) security situation has improved significantly during this time. Without doubt, the fact that an American strike against Syria was averted, and that the chemical weapons of Syria are being dismantled constitute developments that have had a hugely positive effect on the security climate in the Middle East. And the dialogue that has been initiated between Iran and the United States, which holds the promise of defusing the dangerous tension between the two countries, represents a promising event of great magnitude, even though the outcome cannot be taken for granted. The aftermath of the military coup in Egypt is of particular and deep concern; the continued brutal repression by the military is creating a situation that carries significant risks for the future of Egypt; the implications of the violence in Egypt are inevitably going to be felt across the region. There is the risk that we will see an increase in terrorism, as the Islamists retaliate against the military.

In the winter of 2013/14, even though Syria remains in a state of civil war, and even though Egypt represents a very worrisome development as I pointed out above, there is nonetheless reason to be somewhat optimistic and expect that the security situation in the Middle East will be at least "manageable"; that is because the United States and Russia are cooperating (on Syria) and because the United States and Iran have both demonstrated a willingness to turn a new page in their relationship. So, looking ahead for at least the next few months, I think there is going to be a "window of opportunity", to take steps that can lay the foundations for an improved security climate in the Middle East. But there is no guarantee that this opportunity is not going to be wasted.

Farhad Tolipov (Uzbekistan) - Director of the private research and educational center "Bilim Karvon"("Caravan of knowledge") - by phone from Tashkent: The situations in Syria, the financial crisis in the USA, even the increased tensions in Afghanistan are not events that determine the state of security in Central Asia. There are two factors of current realities that may have a more or less significant impact on the level of security in the region. This is the situation in Russia and in Central Asia itself.

In Russia anti-migrant hysteria, which affects the public mood among the residents of the Central Asian region intensified. The deterioration of the socio-political environment (and it is now getting worse) in Russia will always have direct implications for its neighboring Central Asian republics. Thus, the introduction of the visa regime between Russia and Central Asia will cause social tension in the region. This may lead to another geopolitical confrontation between different states in the republics. Above all 2014 – the year when Afghanistan has to begin independent development – is coming. In such transitional political regimes some Central Asian states can become hostages in geopolitical games. Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan – the two weakest links in the region – could become the start of a new wave of internal conflicts with external involvement. It is therefore necessary to develop a new strategy for regional development led by the countries of the region.

For all the questions concerning the International Security Index please contact Galiya Ibragimova by e-mail ibragimova at pircenter.org

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