Even if there is cause for competition in Central Asia, both Moscow and Beijing see friendly bilateral relations as a priority, especially against the backdrop of their escalating confrontation with the West.
Assuming that the situation in Afghanistan is unlikely to stabilize in the foreseeable future, it may fuel the Rahmon regime for another few years.
Tajikistan has no intention of getting into a direct confrontation with the Taliban. Rather, by taking a few more risks than its neighbors, the Tajik leadership is counting on boosting its popularity, both at home and abroad.
Chinese firms are adapting to an ever-changing business environment as Central Asian leaders and citizens demand more local job creation, value-added industry, and opportunities for skills and advancement.
Tajikistan was the only one of Afghanistan’s neighbors that did not engage in talks with the Taliban prior to the militant group’s conquest of most of Afghanistan.
It was not so long ago that the United States had military bases in the region. But now much depends on whether the advantages would outweigh the inevitable losses that Central Asian countries would sustain as a result of Moscow and Beijing’s displeasure.
The recent escalation did not resemble a local dispute that got out of hand. Dark clouds have been gathering over the region for a long time, and the decision to embark on military action was taken at the highest level.
Like the rest of the world, Central Asian states and societies are being stress-tested by the COVID-19 pandemic. Can they withstand the storm?
Almost 30 years after the collapse of the USSR, Central Asian citizens are growing tired of stagnating economies, rampant corruption, and their governments’ empty promises. In 2019, they made it clear they want improved services, more transparency in decision-making, and better opportunities.