International Political Economy of Central Asia
Until the close of the twentieth century, Central Asia as a region that was closed as it is apparent from the regions political and economic system. However, since the onset of globalization, the state of affairs has changed dramatically. The author of this book highlights the path through which the region entered into the highly globalized and competitive global arena. The scope of the book does not only look at the regions interaction with many external players and economies but also the geo-economic perspectives that characterize the regions rise to global importance. The region is awash with natural resources that demand the attention of great economic powers and internal factions with great ambition.
The horizon is dominated by China and Russia, with other players on the global scene lurking behind. This has created an immense dilemma for the local regimes in Central Asia. They are caught between the warring interests that arguably are of similar degrees of importance. On one hand is the need for collaborations with international powers to help them valorize the vast resources in the region. On the other hand, there is the need to exercise and maintain control over the vast natural resources in the interest of their people and state sovereignty.
In this respect, the key driver of the involvement of external actors is the local development patterns. This aspect has also influenced the nature of the mechanisms through which countries in Central Asia are cutting a niche in the increasingly globalized world. In writing this book, the author offers a witty introduction into the contemporary political and economic contest of the Central Asian region and its place on the globalized world.
Chapter seven of the book looks at the regional market and the economic weaknesses and political blockades influencing the dynamics in the region. Central Asia is a region with different nationalities inspired differently in the quest for regional and global dominance. The rivalries between thee nationalities affects the regional market, and by extension the purchasing power of the region. The author posits that it is important to protect the links established earlier from extermination by political blockades. It is for this reason that the author deems Ukraine and Belarus as links worth preserving. The author also examines the failed relations between the South Caucasus and the effect this has the region’s economic pillars. Even with this dampening relation, the author points out the business ventures of Central Asia in Afghanistan. Throughout the chapter, the author points out the economic weaknesses that are apparent from the regions lack of diplomacy and the failing relationships with other countries in the regions market. As a result of this, business is not booming for the region (Laruelle & Peyrouse 117).
Part II: Facing globalization
Chapter eight of the book deals with the agricultural sector in relation to increasing globalization. The author acknowledges that most of the global population lives in the urban areas, and the number left in the rural areas is decreasing. The author recounts the increasing consumption of cereal by the world’s population. In a rather grim not, the author laments of the centralization of world agriculture, with less than thirty countries monopolizing production and trade. Central Asia region has become a force to be reckoned with due to the division of labor under the Soviet regime, an action that saw the region concentrate in agricultural production. Nonetheless, this sector is dogged by problems like unfinished land reforms, poor logistical structures during distribution, corruption in the agrarian administration and lack of capacity for decision making. This has led to a few ruling elite pocketing the foreign exchange earned from exports at the expense of many farmers. The lack of development has also cause negative environmental impact like overuse of water due to rundown irrigation systems and high salinity (Laruelle & Peyrouse 143).
Chapter nine of the book highlights the role played by hydrocarbons in the regions international strategies. The natural oil and gas resources in central Asia give the region an economical advantage. This sector has firmly placed central Asia on the international scene, with increased demand in emerging powers like china, Brazil and India. However, the region is handicapped because they do not have the technological prowess required to exploit these resources. In recognition of this, and the potential losses if multinationals from the west are allowed to exploit the resource, national companies have laid strategies that revolve around the building a strong bargaining power. This is through the formation of regional bodies so that the region has a common voice.
Nonetheless, international companies have still managed to find their way into the regions natural resources. Globalization has also helped in terms of transport networks that allow routes with little extra costs. The author argues that the region’s choice of energy partners is very fundamental. They need to choose allies based not only on the technological prowess and export markets but also in consideration of long term geopolitical allies. The former Soviet no longer has a claim of the resources in the region. Nonetheless, the author considers it a major player because of the export routes. In the author’s eyes, one impediment to the regions exploitation of the natural resources is the lack of technological knowhow and the inefficiency of state run companies, in recognition of this fact, regional governments seek to remedy this situation by transformation of their industries (Laruelle & Peyrouse 165).
Chapter ten of the book puts the debate between state sovereignty and export strategies to perspective. The region is rich in inorganic minerals. The regions minerals were not discovered until the Russian entry into the region. Their need for economic power increased the development of extraction capacity. The extraction and eventual sale of these minerals in the regions is very political. This is because it not only earns foreign exchange but also helped the growth of the industrial sector in various nations. As such, the influence that foreign companies had has diminished due to the reaffirmation of state sovereignty (Laruelle & Peyrouse 190).
Chapter eleven of the book is a recognition of the essential nature of the electricity sectors towards the development of the region. As a region with limited water resources, the best way to ensure enough electricity to spur and sustain meaningful development would be to ensure regional cooperation. However, since the independence of the regional countries from the Soviet Union, there has been unwavering cooperation between the countries in the Central Asian region. This presents missed opportunities for these countries (Laruelle & Peyrouse 218).
In writing chapter twelve of the book, the author highlights yet another challenge facing the Central Asian region. The central Asian region is landlocked. It has not outlet to the sea. As such, the region relies on roads, rail and the air to transport extracted minerals, crude oil and other manufactured goods. With a lot riding on the region’s air, rail and road networks, the author examines their state with a subtle reflection on their ability to deliver and transport the region’s economy (Laruelle & Peyrouse 242).
Chapter thirteen of the book allows us to reflect on what the author wrote in chapter eight regarding the state of agriculture in the region, only this time the author focuses on the industrial sector in the region. As was espoused earlier, Central Asian region concentrated on agriculture during their union with the Soviet. This was their expertise in terms of labor and technological prowess. After the split, the chemical and pharmaceutical industries were left by the Soviet in the hands of people who are not well skilled in the sector. The corrupt administration of the sector led to a structural weakening than hampered their flourishing in a globalized market (Laruelle & Peyrouse 264).
The fourteenth chapter of the book puts the future of the services sector in Central Asia to perspective. The author zeros in on the banking sector in the region. Just like the industrial sector, the banking sector was a preserve of the Soviet Union. There was not much left after the split that led to the independence of the countries forming the Central Asian region. In all honesty the services sector in the region is virtually non-existent and the author reckons that they have to build from scratch (Laruelle & Peyrouse 285).
The book offers an interpretation of Central Asia through a traditional geo-strategic perspective mingled with geo-economic reflection that not only offers an analysis of the dynamics of the Central Asian region but also places the region of the contemporary world politics map. The book gives a horde of the challenges in the region and also the many possibilities that are unfolding in the region.
In this book, the author uses knowledge from the Soviet history and Islam to analyze the transformation of the Muslim societies in different countries as a result of the presence of the Soviet in the region. In general, the author argues that the Bolshevik project assaulted Islam by remaking the world thereby ruining the patterns of Islamic learning and by extension de-Islamized public life. Through this, the author argues that Islam was synonymously known with tradition and was also played subordinate to influential ethnonational identities that materialized during the Soviet period. Through this book, the author demonstrates how this legacy continues today. He also shows how for hordes of people in Central Asia, a return to Islam signifies their redemption and the recovery of many traditions that were ruined during the period of communism.
Chapter six of the book highlights the intricacies and the onset of Islamic opposition to the Soviet. The assertions of the author in this chapter are in line with the central theme of the book as intimated by the author. The opposition staged by the Muslims against president Karimov marked the politicization of Islam and the logical zenith of the Islamic revival that can be traced t the Gorbachev years. The author argues that following this incident, Islamic sentiments and Islam have continually featured in the efforts to oppose the order that materialized after the collapse of the Soviet. While the methods have changed from worship sessions held outside the premises of organizations that are sanctioned by the state to violent opposition and secret societies, the author holds that Islamic sentiments have endured.
Chapter seven of the book deals with the politics antiterrorism. This issue emerged from chapter six when the author delved into the issues of Islamic radicalism and extremism. The author posits that radical movements based in Islam did not exist in the Post Soviet Central Asia. However, is very skeptical in the examination this issue is accorded by scholars. While the author argues that the many questions regarding radical Islamic movements may not be answered precisely in the context of Central Asia, he also holds that politics of antiterrorism are not entirely used for the reasons we are made to believe. It is the thought of the author that regional governments use the presence of the Islamic threat to justify their authoritarian tendencies.
This is by tying all political expressions of Islam in their states to transnational networks of Islamist militancy. The author holds that even though information about such networks is hard to come by, it is incumbent in us as scholars to question that which is given by the governments in the region. In his analysis of the three major Islamist groups of the post Soviet era in Central Asia, the author holds that the fact that they operate in a global milieu, there operations are anchored in local issues. In general, the author argues that these groups are an opposition to the economic and political order that materialized after the ruin of the Soviet Union; and that their voice is one of bonafide discontent due to the commonplace repression and abounding inequities. Even though the networks have global significance, their rise to significance is contingent onto local circumstances.
In concluding his book, the author looks at the Andijan massacre and beyond. The author is not tempted to dwell on the ills of the massacre. He also looks at its significance and the perspectives on life after the happening. The author reckons that widespread ignorance in Islam by the West has been manipulated by political leaders in Central Asia. The image of Islam as fearsome and violent is a cash cow for some leaders in Central Asia who solicit support and foreign aid when they deny their citizens their democratic rights and oppress them.
Laruelle, Marlène, Peyrouse, Sébastien. Globalizing Central Asia: Geopolitics and the Challenges of Economic Development. M.E. Sharpe. New York. 2013. Print.