Boston, MA -- (SBWIRE) -- 07/27/2012 -- The five major Central Asian Republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan have commenced a subtle, yet important, realignment of their security policies. This is occurring against the backdrop of the large-scale withdrawal of US and NATO forces from Afghanistan in circa 2014/15. The withdrawal of these forces, which is expected to commence from 2014, could have serious security implications for all five of these nations. All five nations are on the frontline as regards the export of Islamic extremism, terrorism and narcotics from Afghanistan which could increase following the US and NATO withdrawal. For the previous decade, the Central Asian Republics have benefited from a relative stabilisation of their internal security situation, and the security situation on their borders with Afghanistan (with the exception of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, neither of which shares a border with Afghanistan) since military operations commenced in Afghanistan in 2001.
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Despite all of the Central Asian republics being largely Muslim countries, their political leaderships have been highly concerned about the export of of Islamic extremism into their societies. This is in addition to security concerns regarding the trafficking or narcotics and weapons into these countries. In a worst case scenario, a potential security vacuum emerging in the wake of a US and NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan could pre-empt all these scenarios becoming a reality in a desperately poor region of Asia, which can ill afford a descent into civil war, strife and social disintegration. For Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan such a scenario is not necessarily hypothetical. All five have suffered some kind of blowback from Afghanistan's long and violent history following the Soviet Union's withdrawal from that country, and the subsequent dissolution of the USSR. These repercussions have taken the form of terrorism, the export of extremist Islam and the trafficking of drugs.
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