With the 2014 deadline fast approaching for the withdrawal of US and NATO troops from Afghanistan, American and European politicians and analysts are busy trying to resolve pressing state-building issues. When it comes to ensuring security, policymakers should not forget about higher education in Afghanistan.
Central Asian states do not face an “imminent” threat posed by Islamic militants, but they need US assistance to help defend against potential dangers, according to top US diplomats. Such assistance, it appears, may include drone aircraft delivered to Uzbekistan, which democratization watchdogs rank as one of the most repressive states in the world.
Narcotics use is wreaking havoc in Russia, responsible for 30,000 annual deaths and 200 new HIV infections every day. But Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin is letting knee-jerk hostility toward the United States cloud its response to the drug-trafficking crisis.
Russia has made a sudden shift when it comes to combatting narcotics trafficking in Afghanistan. For years, Russian officials saw US involvement in Central Asia as a greater national security threat than Afghan drugs.
Bamyan Province is still a pocket of relative tranquility in Afghanistan. But things get dangerous for locals when they have to travel. All roads into and out of the province must run a Taliban gauntlet.
US officials are happy with a program that helps steer Pentagon contracts to local businesses in Central Asia. But Central Asian governments are grousing that they aren’t making enough of a profit off of the Afghan war.
There is a general assumption that Afghanistan is a notorious exporter of violence and that the pullout of US and NATO troops in 2014 from the country portends trouble for the neighboring states of Central Asia. Yet this assumption rests on shaky evidence.