Congressional Briefing - June 28, 2006

Central Asia and Its Asian Neighbors: Security and Commerce at the Crossroads

Presented by Rollie Lal, RAND Political Scientist
in conjuction with the Silk Road Caucus

Wednesday, June 28, 2006
8:00-9:00 A.M.
B-339 Rayburn House Office Building
Breakfast will be provided

While the United States viewed its interests in Central Asia as relatively limited during the first ten years after Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan became independent, sovereign states, many neighboring Asian states have long had historical links and strong interests within the region. However, after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the perceived geopolitical significance of Central Asia to the U.S. was greatly enhanced, and U.S. policies and priorities toward the region were considerably transformed.

Today, the security and economic development of Central Asia is of great concern for both the United States and its Asian neighbors. Apprehension over the narcotics trade, weapons trade, and other transnational threats are coupled with potential opportunities in the region's latent energy resources and emerging markets. Therefore, in order to understand the new role that Central Asia will now play in Asian security and development, it is critical to look at the region's relations with neighboring states such as China, Iran, India, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, and consider the implications of these relations for the United States.

This breakfast briefing will be based on a study that examined the role of these relations and the role of multinational organizations such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The study sought to combine an understanding of politics, economics, and military strategic analysis to bring fresh perspectives to the many issues facing the Central Asian region.