Central Asia – Introduction


This issue we start a series of special regional reports with Central Asia. This region is made up of 5 sovereign states, the five ‘Stans,’ which gained independence during the dying days of the Soviet Union in 1991. With all the turmoil that Russia has been consistently experiencing, the area was quietly forgotten about for most of the 1990s but is now heading back into the spotlight for several reasons: It has becomes of strategic importance to the US which wishes to increase American influence in the region. China is already capitalising on its investments there and the EU wishes to diversify its carbon based energy supplies. With recent ISIS insurgencies, which we are told are a real threat, the region could soon burst into the news as a possible new area for the radicalisation of Muslim populations. It could also become a new proxy zone of conflict between great powers which are backing the 5 states. (editor)

Meanwhile, an increasing number of expats are working in Central Asia. Some have become expats twice over, having worked in Russia previously.

Ross Hunter, introduces this section with facts and figures. John Harrison delves into some of the underlying political, economic and military narratives of today’s Central Asia, and suggests that EU should change its policy in the region.

The inimitable Luc Jones gives us some tips about working in Kazakhstan, as does Nigel Cox. Ross Hunter also supplies us with a review of a very good book: ‘In Search of Kazakhstan – The Land That Disappeared’ by Christopher Robbins, which is essential reading for anybody going to work or travel in Central Asia.