Central Asian States reluctant to take sides in anti-terror coalitions

Eurasianet is reporting that Central Asian countries are spurning all anti-terror coalition suitors, believing that they have little to gain by picking a side, including that of Russia and the U.S. in addition to the Saudis. When Saudi Arabia announced about creation of a 34-member coalition with majority of Muslim states, it lacked post-Soviet states. Azerbaijan announced that it was considering joining the coalition, but Baku has not made up its mind yet. A Saudi newspaper reported that Tajikistan was also considering joining the coalition, but the country’s deputy foreign minister denied the idea. Tajikistan’s reluctance is linked to Moscow’s hostility toward the Saudi coalition. Russian media reported Putin’s comment saying the coalition that also includes Turkey is an anti-Russian alliance.

On the other hand, Russia and the U.S. have their own coalitions. The Obama administration says 65 countries joined the forces against ISIS, however their participation is only limited to putting the name on the list, and thus far lacks any strategy. Washington is also eager to recruit Central Asian states. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Daniel Rosenblum said the U.S. is conducting talks with Uzbekistan about potential participation. Russia has its own alliance against ISIS including Iran, Iraq and Syria, but it also proved fruitless to get post-Soviet allies in the campaign. Eurasianet also says that the rosters of these coalitions are meaningless except as a name on a piece of paper. But despite their symbolic nature, Russia sees them as expressions of loyalty or disloyalty that makes the Central Asian states hesitant to take a clear position.

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