Uzbekistan Initiative Papers No. 12, March 2014
By Richard Weitz
With the largest population of the five Central Asian countries, and with many coethnics residing in neighboring countries, Uzbekistan is a very important Central Asian country from the perspective of maintaining regional stability.
Its government has consistently pursued a strongly autonomous foreign policy that limits the country’s dependence on foreign actors.
To Moscow’s irritation, Tashkent has generally stood aside in relative isolation from regional processes led by Russia such as the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the Customs Union.
Despite a general aversion to multilateral institutions, Uzbekistan remains actively involved in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and has hosted the SCO’s Regional Anti-Terror Structure (RATS) since the creation in June 2004.
The main transnational threats facing Uzbekistan include terrorism, narcotics trafficking, and other challenges related to the situation in Afghanistan as well as tensions over access to water, regional rivalries among the great powers, and the Iranian nuclear program.
Uzbekistan is reshaping its military into a leaner counterterrorist-focused force in line with the National Security doctrine that defines the major threats to Uzbekistan as international terrorism and Islamic extremism.
- The Shanghai Cooperation Organization and Afghanistan: Challenges and Opportunities?
- Post-2014: The Spectre of a New Arms Race in Central Asia?
- False Alarm: Xinjiang and China’s National Security
- Addressing Soft Security Challenges in Kazakhstan and Central Asia
- Iranian-Uzbek relations in the geopolitical context of Central Asia