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© 2021 Oriental Institute, The Czech Academy of Sciences, Kevin L. Schwartz, and Ameem Lutfi
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The events of 9/11 and the subsequent Global War on Terror have profoundly transformed the landscape of international development in post-Soviet Central Asia. The launching of the military campaign, Operation Enduring Freedom, in neighboring Afghanistan in October 2001 resulted in the region’s strategic importance for the U.S. and its allies. Until then, Central Asian states, which gained independence only a decade before following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, were “classical” recipients of humanitarian and democratization aid. In 2001, they suddenly became indispensable partners and service providers in fighting international terrorism. The U.S., NATO, and allied countries used military bases in Uzbekistan (Karshi-Khanabad and Termez) and Kyrgyzstan (Manas Transit Center), and stipulated transit and refueling arrangements with Tajikistan (Dushanbe Airport), Turkmenistan (Ashgabat TU) and Kazakhstan. 1 Due to an increasing risk of moving supplies to Afghanistan through Pakistan, an alternative route, the Northern   Distribution   Network , was established in 2009 to fulfil this function with its track, rail, and air routes crossing the Central Asian region. Central Asian countries have thus provided the U.S. and NATO with space to transfer troops, fuel, and military equipment, in this way becoming a logistical hotspot in the Global War on Terror. Such a repositioning of Central Asia in international politics was accompanied by a boom of U.S. military aid allocated to this part of the world. 2 Provision of technical equipment and extensive training, which aimed at strengthening local defense institutions, resulted in raising the importance of local security agencies, the military and law enforcement bodies in the region. Such heightened international attention has also led to a sudden increase in international aid for non-military purposes. For example, while in 2000 the net official development assistance to Tajikistan amounted to 124 million USD, in 2004 it reached 249 million USD – a rise by 100% within only four years. 3 This influx of funding was accompanied by a profound thematic shift. The meaning of development was redefined, along with the ways to achieve it. While in the 1990s international donors believed that development in Central Asia could be fostered by promoting democratic governance and a free market, in the 2000s the concept of development became inextricably linked with the broadly conceived notion of physical security, but not human security. Societal prosperity and well-being became secondary to the state’s protective and coercive capabilities. Consequently, the early 2000s were characterized by a boom of donor-funded large, regional projects aiming at fostering border control, anti-trafficking, and counter-narcotics. The U.S. was not the only actor involved in this process. Here it is worth mentioning the two European Union (EU) flagship, multi-million programs: Border Management Programme in Central Asia ( BOMCA ), which in 2021 entered its tenth phase, and Central Asia Drug Action Programme ( CADAP ), which finished in 2019 after seven phases. In the context of the Global War on Terror, security became an ubiquitous term, a buzzword which could be found in most political and social contexts, even seemingly unrelated development projects in Central Asia. Importantly, it was a two-way process: such a type of development assistance was promoted by donors in a top-down way, but also largely supported from the ground up. This is because designing development projects by stressing large-scale security threats increased the chances to obtain funding from international donors, whether the recipient were international organizations operating locally, local civil society organizations, or government bodies. While security-related aid strengthened homeland defense capacities, it had severe side effects on people’s safety. The upgrading of border security has negatively influenced, for example, neighboring, cross-border communities living in the Ferghana Valley, which is divided between southern Kyrgyzstan, northern Tajikistan and eastern Uzbekistan. Another social group who experienced tangible threats are injection drug users. Previously, heroin addiction in the region has been predominantly tackled through health-related development projects aimed at minimizing harm related to the risk of contracting HIV through sharing needles and syringes among drug users. The Global War on Terror, however, has linked drug use to organized crime and terrorism. As a result of tightening anti-narcotics laws in the region, drug users found themselves on the radar of law enforcement agencies and risked persecution for possessing even milligrams of heroin. 4 The Global War on Terror has had long-term effects on development aid in Central Asia. On the one hand, it has strengthened the position of Central Asian countries in the international arena. It has also brought more attention and funding to the region. On the other hand, security-focused international development often reflected the imaginations of donors rather than responding to the needs on the ground. Moreover, it exacerbated the everyday, existential insecurity of many social groups.
Source: Karolina Kluczewska archive
September 8, 2021 How 9/11 reshaped the international development scene in Central Asia
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HOME HOME THEMATICS THEMATICS Source: Karolina Kluczewska archive
The events of 9/11 and the subsequent Global War on Terror have profoundly transformed the landscape of international development in post- Soviet Central Asia. The launching of the military campaign, Operation Enduring Freedom, in neighboring Afghanistan in October 2001 resulted in the region’s strategic importance for the U.S. and its allies. Until then, Central Asian states, which gained independence only a decade before following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, were “classical” recipients of humanitarian and democratization aid. In 2001, they suddenly became indispensable partners and service providers in fighting international terrorism. The U.S., NATO, and allied countries used military bases in Uzbekistan (Karshi-Khanabad and Termez) and Kyrgyzstan (Manas Transit Center), and stipulated transit and refueling arrangements with Tajikistan (Dushanbe Airport), Turkmenistan (Ashgabat TU) and Kazakhstan. 1 Due to an increasing risk of moving supplies to Afghanistan through Pakistan, an alternative route, the Northern     Distribution Network , was established in 2009 to fulfil this function with its track, rail, and air routes crossing the Central Asian region. Central Asian countries have thus provided the U.S. and NATO with space to transfer troops, fuel, and military equipment, in this way becoming a logistical hotspot in the Global War on Terror. Such a repositioning of Central Asia in international politics was accompanied by a boom of U.S. military aid allocated to this part of the world. 2 Provision of technical equipment and extensive training, which aimed at strengthening local defense institutions, resulted in raising the importance of local security agencies, the military and law enforcement bodies in the region. Such heightened international attention has also led to a sudden increase in international aid for non-military purposes. For example, while in 2000 the net official development assistance to Tajikistan amounted to 124 million USD, in 2004 it reached 249 million USD a rise by 100% within only four years. 3 This influx of funding was accompanied by a profound thematic shift. The meaning of development was redefined, along with the ways to achieve it. While in the 1990s international donors believed that development in Central Asia could be fostered by promoting democratic governance and a free market, in the 2000s the concept of development became inextricably linked with the broadly conceived notion of physical security, but not human security. Societal prosperity and well-being became secondary to the state’s protective and coercive capabilities. Consequently, the early 2000s were characterized by a boom of donor-funded large, regional projects aiming at fostering border control, anti-trafficking, and counter-narcotics. The U.S. was not the only actor involved in this process. Here it is worth mentioning the two European Union (EU) flagship, multi-million programs: Border Management Programme in Central Asia ( BOMCA ), which in 2021 entered its tenth phase, and Central Asia Drug Action Programme ( CADAP ), which finished in 2019 after seven phases. In the context of the Global War on Terror, security became an ubiquitous term, a buzzword which could be found in most political and social contexts, even seemingly unrelated development projects in Central Asia. Importantly, it was a two-way process: such a type of development assistance was promoted by donors in a top-down way, but also largely supported from the ground up. This is because designing development projects by stressing large-scale security threats increased the chances to obtain funding from international donors, whether the recipient were international organizations operating locally, local civil society organizations, or government bodies. While security-related aid strengthened homeland defense capacities, it had severe side effects on people’s safety. The upgrading of border security has negatively influenced, for example, neighboring, cross-border communities living in the Ferghana Valley, which is divided between southern Kyrgyzstan, northern Tajikistan and eastern Uzbekistan. Another social group who experienced tangible threats are injection drug users. Previously, heroin addiction in the region has been predominantly tackled through health-related development projects aimed at minimizing harm related to the risk of contracting HIV through sharing needles and syringes among drug users. The Global War on Terror, however, has linked drug use to organized crime and terrorism. As a result of tightening anti-narcotics laws in the region, drug users found themselves on the radar of law enforcement agencies and risked persecution for possessing even milligrams of heroin. 4 The Global War on Terror has had long-term effects on development aid in Central Asia. On the one hand, it has strengthened the position of Central Asian countries in the international arena. It has also brought more attention and funding to the region. On the other hand, security-focused international development often reflected the imaginations of donors rather than responding to the needs on the ground. Moreover, it exacerbated the everyday, existential insecurity of many social groups.
© 2021 Oriental Institute, The Czech Academy of Sciences, Kevin L. Schwartz, and Ameem Lutfi
© 2021 Oriental Institute, The Czech Academy of Sciences, Kevin L. Schwartz, and Ameem Lutfi
How 9/11 reshaped the international development scene in Central Asia
Written by
Postdoctoral research fellow, Käte Hamburger Kolleg /  Centre for Global Cooperation Research, Universität Duisburg-Essen
If you are interested in contributing an article for the project, please send a short summary of the proposed topic (no more than 200 words) and brief bio to submissions@911legacies.com. For all other matters, please contact inquiry@911legacies.com.
CONTACT