The Impact of the 2014 ISAF Forces' Withdrawal from Afghanistan on the Central Asian Region

14-01-2014

As the 2014 NATO drawdown from Afghanistan approaches, the international community increasingly looks towards the impact that a stable or unstable Afghanistan might have on the broader region, including Central Asia. Emphasis is often placed on the threat of radical Islamism and Afghan extremists that could destabilise Central Asia. More realistically though, the risk of spillover stems from a potential collapse of the Afghan security forces, refugee flows or instability in Tajikistan. However, the principal security threats to the Central Asian region stand largely separate from Afghanistan’s future. The main security challenges for the region lie in authoritarian governance, deeply-embedded state corruption, often connected to drug trade, and tensions over water and energy resources. This poses challenges to the European Union’s (EU) policies towards Central Asia. Increased attention and possibly a revision of EU policy to Central Asia are needed, in particular in the fields of the broader security dialogue; practical Security Sector Reform (SSR), including border control programmes; increased national-oriented attention to water-energy-related matters; support for democracy and human rights; and EU development aid.

As the 2014 NATO drawdown from Afghanistan approaches, the international community increasingly looks towards the impact that a stable or unstable Afghanistan might have on the broader region, including Central Asia. Emphasis is often placed on the threat of radical Islamism and Afghan extremists that could destabilise Central Asia. More realistically though, the risk of spillover stems from a potential collapse of the Afghan security forces, refugee flows or instability in Tajikistan. However, the principal security threats to the Central Asian region stand largely separate from Afghanistan’s future. The main security challenges for the region lie in authoritarian governance, deeply-embedded state corruption, often connected to drug trade, and tensions over water and energy resources. This poses challenges to the European Union’s (EU) policies towards Central Asia. Increased attention and possibly a revision of EU policy to Central Asia are needed, in particular in the fields of the broader security dialogue; practical Security Sector Reform (SSR), including border control programmes; increased national-oriented attention to water-energy-related matters; support for democracy and human rights; and EU development aid.

Auteur externe

Jos BOONSTRA, Marlène LARUELLE, and Sébastien PEYROUSE (Fundación para las Relaciones Internacionales y el Diálogo Exterior - FRIDE, Spain)