(Washington Times) While the US-Russia relationship has been deteriorating rapidly since 2014 and faces a new crisis with the current situation around Aleppo, the bilateral relationship in Central Asia has been relatively stable…because it was already weak and unbalanced.
The United States has progressively lost its visibility in Central Asia, through a combination of strategic withdrawals (the Manas transit center closed in 2014 on Bishkek’s demand), limited engagement of US firms (even less now with the declining need for Caspian oil and gas and the endless postponements of Kashagan exploitation), and lack of massive investments, especially compared to China’s One Belt, One Road initiative. To this should be added a kind of fatigue on both sides: US civil society’s activities in the region have been slowing down, and the advocacy community partly lost hope in changing the political situation on the ground. At the same time, Central Asian regimes and public opinions have been more and more critical and/or disappointed toward the US democracy agenda and promotion of minority rights. Rising conspiracy narratives about the US role in destabilizing both Eurasian and Middle-Eastern countries became a dominant feature of local opinions. […]
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