Staunton, June 26 – A major reason that border disputes in Central Asia are becoming more deadly is that the governments involved are buying weapons from other countries which are all too ready to sell. Among these is Kazakhstan which is currently selling weapons to both sides in the Kyrgyz-Tajik border dispute.
Tajikistan has doubled its defense budget over the last year. It justifies that by pointing to the threat of incursions by the Taliban from Afghanistan; but no one can guarantee that the weapons it is acquiring won’t be used in the border dispute with Kyrgyzstan. Indeed, observers say that is increasingly likely (stanradar.com/news/full/45287-nuzhno-li-vooruzhatsja-posle-konflikta-na-kyrgyzsko-tadzhikskoj-granitse.html).
Kyrgyzstan does not face a threat from Afghanistan but it does face one from Tajikistan, and because Tajikistan is arming itself, Bishkek feels it has no choice but to try to match Dushanbe so as to be able to counter any challenge to the borders and enclaves in the region. Other countries in the region may draw similar conclusions about what they must do.
Those selling arms to any of these countries, Russian commentator Konstantin Larionov says, are in effect fueling not only more conflicts but more deadly ones in a region that has already suffered too much and whose governments should be spending what little money they have on helping their populations rather than on defending their borders.
But because the arms trade is so profitable and because governments in the region feel they have no choice but to arm themselves if others do, the likelihood is that the next round of border violence in Central Asia will be far more deadly than any so far – and those have been deadly enough with hundreds dead already.
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