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There is a post-Soviet region where the wealth of Arab countries flows

There is a post-Soviet region where the wealth of Arab countries flows

For this reason, among other things, regarding the balanced situation – with regard to Central Asia, we can laugh at this as a multipolar policy – on April 15, 2024 takes place The Cooperation Council for the Arab Gulf States and the five Central Asian countries – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan – To the summit meeting of foreign ministers hosted by the Uzbek capital, Tashkent.

This meeting can rightly be described as a wonderful event, as the relationship between the two regions (Middle East and Central Asia) has never been closer before.

If we look at the Middle East from Central Asia, we find that the countries of the region have two negotiating platforms for diplomatic, economic and investment dialogue with the Middle East. This is one of them Arab Leagueand the other is Gulf Cooperation Council.

These are the most influential and important institutions, but they differ in their tasks. If we want to say it sharply, the League unites everything that can be called the “Arab world,” not an “Islamic” formula, nor a regional economic formula, but rather an Arab formula.

In addition to the core Arab countries, the Arab League includes Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, but also Egypt, Morocco, Mauritania, Sudan, Comoros and Tunisia. In fact, the member states of the Arab League are not included on a geographical basis, but rather on the basis of the principle of historical and cultural identity in the first place.

In contrast, the Gulf Cooperation Council includes six neighboring countries along the coast of the Arabian Gulf. These countries are the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Oman. Also, if we want to put it directly, GCC cooperation is about the factor, pricing and logistics of hydrocarbon production. However, the Six maintain excellent relations with each other in other areas as well, such as investments, defense activities, border issues, immigration issues, or even cultural issues.

What is the purpose of the meeting in Tashkent?

On the one hand, the answer is clear. Specifically, Central Asian countries need investment to modernize their economies. In addition, by diversifying their economic and political relations, these countries may be able to build a kind of economic counterweight to China and Russia.

Central Asia's openness to the Middle East is not unique, as many people “use” the region as investors. For example, Türkiye did the same. Turkish President Erdogan also went to the Middle East to invest For resources. Russia cooperates with countries in the region as a center for money transfers.

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But Arab investments in Central Asia have always been present, but to a very modest degree ($80-120 million per country annually). However, even in this small share, it had a special advantage in terms of the volume of direct investments in the Middle East Turkmenistanwhich, in cooperation with the institutions of the United Arab Emirates, succeeded in rebuilding the port of Turkmenbashi, in addition to many airports in the country with the help of subsidies directed to the region from the Middle East.

In addition to the Turkmen Polymer production It – which today plays a leading role in the Central Asian region – has also been modernized with similar support. In addition, Turkmen are crucial to Abu Dhabi in the raw materials extraction sector Involved transportation car.

Formerly Jeddah interviewWhich took place between the five Central Asian countries and the Gulf Cooperation Council, began to show clear signs at the beginning of 2024. It is Uzbekistan worth about 12 billion dollars. commitment to Agreements with Saudi Arabia and Kazakhstan worth approximately $12 billion were also successful Agreements To sign with Riyad Funds.

But it is also worth noting that these are very large investment packages, even if we take into account that these investments are spread over the period 2023-2030.

But why do the two parties cooperate?

In order to understand the reasons why the five Central Asian states attracted the attention of the six Gulf states, it is useful to look at the regional processes (regional integration) in Central Asia and some of the resulting policy points. This shows that although some conditions (stability) did not exist before, they have now developed.

As a result of the regional integration processes taking place in the region – which neither the military nor the experts dealing with the region believed in, as they believed that the contradictions between individual countries were too great – the Group of Five countries gradually began to function as a single region and constantly tried to resolve complex internal regional issues (such as the conflict border between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan) without external intermediaries. In addition, the two regional rivals (Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan) are seeking a closer strategic partnership with each other. In fact, Turkmenistan, which specifically opted for a separate passenger policy for many years and accepted neutrality, has become a permanent and active participant in this five-member group.

The next important aspect is the domestic policy steps (primarily reforms), which have de facto created a new consensus in the region on the question of the partner's stability. It is worth noting here that Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan have witnessed extensive political reforms, constitutional amendments and presidential elections in recent years. Although the models differed, they ensured social and political stability for both countries. It is worth noting here that the Kyrgyz elite was shaken by the foiled coup attempt. In addition, the political and economic system in Tajikistan and Turkmenistan is quite stable (not dictatorial).

What then?

The Foreign Ministerial Summits in Tashkent and the Presidential Summits in Jeddah in 2023 show that Gulf powers are ready to invest in infrastructure in Central Asia.

Despite the fact that today Russia and China are close partners – and are also actively present in Central Asia economically (primarily China) and politically (primarily Russia) – the leaders of the Central Asian countries are trying to diversify their relations, for which the Persian Gulf countries Excellent, it provides an opportunity. However, the convergence of Central Asia towards the Middle East is not necessarily to the disadvantage of China or Russia. The reason is that the Gulf countries and their associated financial funds are coming to Central Asia[1] An increase in its investments may also benefit Moscow and Beijing, whose developments in Central Asia are determined by big numbers.

At the same time, the Arab carrier is unlikely to have a significant impact on the relations of the countries of the region with Russia or China, as the regional weight of the GCC countries cannot be compared with traditional Russian influence in the region. Central Asia or the economically dominant Chinese influence. It is even questionable to what extent it is able to balance the Turkish cultural role in Central Asia, which is evident in the vision of the Turkish world.

It is very likely that the growing relations between the countries of Central Asia and the Gulf countries will be achieved at the same level, at the level of local investments and various economic projects. For Council members, Central Asia can be a partner as an investment rather than in geopolitical terms.

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An example of the diplomatic acumen of countries in the region

While the foreign ministers of the Central Asian countries met with the leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council in Tashkent on April 15, 2024, three days ago, the Belarusian capital, Minsk, hosted the seventh meeting of the Central Asian foreign ministers. And Russia. The event in Minsk was attended by all five Central Asian countries – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan – and Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

During the meeting, the platform participants discussed the status of six-party cooperation and prospects for developing the partnership. The meeting participants considered the importance of dialogues between Central Asian countries and Russia to be particularly important in relation to the rapid changes in global politics and the economy.

The foreign ministers participating in the meeting considered it crucial that the joint action plan to implement the outcomes of the Central Asia-Russia Summit and the Preventive Economy Program created to stimulate industrial cooperation between the Central Asian countries and Russia continue. . In addition, issues aimed at socio-economic development between Central Asia and Russia and the situation of labor migration from Central Asia to Russia were discussed at the Minsk meeting.

These two meetings are also a good example of how important it is for some countries to be able to maneuver in the swampy field of diplomacy and international relations in an appropriate manner, in addition to geographical determinism, the rapprochement between the four powers, and the rapprochement between the four powers. Emerging national and regional identity. The results achieved show that the five Central Asian countries are able to solve this task well so far.

[1] In general, the Gulf countries currently enjoy a very strong investment position. In terms of investments, there are four funds that are inevitable in the region where capital is concentrated: SFH (Saudi Arabia), Qatar Investment Authority (Qatar), Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (UAE), Kuwait Investment Authority (Kuwait). The resources of these funds amount to about 2.2 trillion dollars.

The author is a researcher at the Eurasian Center.

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