US expert on America’s role in Central Asia

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BISHKEK (TCA) — There was an opinion that the United States was leaving Central Asia, which was the case in the past decade, but now the US is reconsidering its attitude to the region, Central Asia-Caucasus Institute (CACI) Chairman S. Frederick Starr said in his interview with Kazakhstan’s Sayasat.org about America’s role in Central Asia.

“America recognizes the importance of Central Asia as a center of Islam which conducts a secular policy,” Mr. Starr said. “I am talking about the importance of secularism, especially if compared to the Middle East. On this basis we can expect deeper recognition of Central Asia by America. Secondly, Central Asia is a big region. There are serious concerns that the current stability of the region, based on external factors, is artificial and non lasting. America, the West, and all friends of Central Asia need to emphasize the region’s possibility to ensure internal stability. This is not against anybody. Any region, any country must have internal stability. That is why it is so much important to emphasize and support the economy.”

Asked about the participation of Central Asian countries in such integration projects as the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union and China’s One Belt, One Road initiative, Mr. Starr said he respects Central Asia countries seeking to join all external organizations. “It is always good to have a choice. And I am sure that new projects will appear. Regretfully, [Russian President] Vladimir Putin regards integration as medieval unions which must be eternal and non-alternative. And here, flexibility is very important for you.”

Speaking about America’s New Silk Road strategy, Mr. Starr said there are three big corridors in Eurasia. The northern route leads to Russia. The middle route is a corridor between China and Europe. The southern route connects India and Europe. The goal of the New Silk Road is very simple — to open the southern corridor to Central Asia and open the northern and western “doors” to Afghanistan. This is not against anybody; it is beneficial to all, especially for Afghanistan, as it would give a stable revenue source and help ensure stability in this country.

Sergey Kwan

TCA