Joshua Kucera is a freelance journalist specializing on Central Asia, Caucasus and Middle East. His contributions include interesting articles in the U.S. media with regards to those regions. In his "Bug Pit” blog with the "Eurasianet.org” he released a new article that contains several interesting aspects (see Joshua Kucera. U.S. Aid To Caucasus, Central Asia To Drop, Except For Security, www.eurasianet.org, 20 February, 2013).
It addresses Washington`s determination to maintain previous volumes of financial aid to security issues in the countries of Central Asia and the Caucasus in light of the general reduction of assistance. Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia are expected to receive less funding compared to 2013 while U.S. Defense Department has already started provision of increased financial assistance.
According to Kucera those two aspects are deserve scrutiny. Why all of the sudden has the security of the Central Asian and Caucasus countries have become immediate? Is Washington taking into account certain risks and threats? What is their essence?
Author then responds to questions raised by providing figures. State Department views 24% reduction of assistance to the countries of the Caucasus. Nevertheless, envisaged assistance to security remains intact. Central Asia is also going to see 13% decrease in assistance, with exclusion of security related projects.
It means that Central Asian countries will receive 15.3 million USD less than a year before, while assistance earmarked as "peace and security” will remain unchanged at 30.3 million USD. Assistance to the Caucasus is reduced by 28.6 million USD, while security area is likely to receive 34.9 million USD.
Major cutbacks are envisaged in the economic development field. Assistance rendered to Georgia is expected to grow, and the country will remain a recipient of 21.7 million USD.
Kyrgyzstan is the second largest recipient of U.S. assistance – 47 million USD. Security issue in this country will be addressed thanks to 9.2 million USD, against 6.3 million USD of assistance rendered the year before.
Armenia will receive 36.6 million USD instead of 44.3 million in 2012. Security purposes will see 8.9 million USD of aid. Last year Azerbaijan received 20.9 million USD of assistance. This year the amount will be 16.3 million USD, while security area will receive the same amount of aid – 4.3 million USD.
Comparison of figures attests to growing attention the U.S. attaches to ensuring security in the Central Asia and the Caucasus that is likely to stem from the struggle of large powers in the region and the need to consider the threats emanating from the Middle East.
On the other hand, it may possibly be related to the Iranian nuclear program, as Tehran defiantly continues to enrich uranium. West`s position has been steadfast and Iran may face even tougher actions. In that event, security of the countries in the region and its immediate neighborhood gains urgency. Large powers have already started deploying more military contingency in direction of Central Asia and the Caucasus.
Those actions embody the challenge of ensuring complete and enduring stability of those regions. Apparently, large powers will not give up the tactics of jeopardizing the security of others for the sake of their own interests.