Staunton, Nov. 17 – With the victory of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the spread of its influence northward, the heavily populated Fergana valley, now divided among three states in Central Asia, has once again become “the Achilles’ heel” of the region, and Kazakhstan and Russia are expanding military cooperation to meet it, Bulat Sultanov says.
The former director of Kazakhstan’s Institute for Strategic Research says that even though neither his country nor Russia has a common border with Afghanistan, the Taliban are a threat because they have been able to penetrate Central Asia with militants and drug traders (eurasia.expert/afganskaya-ugroza-v-ferganskoy-doline-obosnovalis-obuchennye-boeviki/).
The levels of corruption in the states to the south of the two are so high that the Taliban and its agents are finding it easy to mobilize the populations there. And today, in the Fergana, as in the past, many are talking about creating an Islamic state that would displace the existing countries. That by itself threatens Kazakhstan and Russia, Sultanov continues.
“Now, in the Fergana valley, there already have been formed strong, unified and well-trained groups of militants,” he says. The weak states in the region can’t cope with this. Kazakhstan and Russia thus are at risk, and not surprisingly, Kazakhstan is moving to work more closely with Russia in military matters.
Both countries are also threatened in a long-term way by the domestic political crisis within the Central Asian states, Sultanov argues. “In the Central Asian countries, the armed forces are complected mostly from rural youth, and they are mostly from the south. And people there can become officials and policemen only if they have served in the army.”
That means that the military and security services in these countries are dominated by precisely the kind of people the Taliban can appeal to with success. For such people, “no one has repealed the laws of the teips.” That means that those in power in those countries are at risk and their prospects are “not very positive.”
The governments in Central Asia need better equipped militaries and especially more drones. Only Russia can supply them. “The realities are,” the Kazakh analyst says, “that event in Nagorno-Karabakh showed that those mechanisms of preventive diplomacy which existed earlier are meaningless.”
“What is needed is political will, well-supplied military forces, and then all the problems will be resolved by hybrid war.” That is something Kazakhstan President Kasym-Jomart Tokayev understands and that is why he has shown himself so loyal to Moscow. He knows Russia is the only place he can get such advanced military technology.