Could Water Needs Unite Central Asian States Vs. Driving Them Apart?

As reported by Window on Eurasia, most analysts see competition for water driving the five countries of Central Asia apart, possibly even leading to military conflicts among them. But a Kyrgyz ecologist argues that in fact both these countries and the international community should make access to water the basis for closer cooperation among them.

“… [according to] Urustem Kabylbekov, a Kyrgyz ecologist, any military conflict could lead to the bleeding into the water supply of uranium and other minerals that would render the region uninhabitable for 500 years and thus have negative consequences for the entire world.  And consequently, even if some Central Asian leaders are not prepared to cooperate on water issues on their own, the international community must step in to insist on cooperation lest ecological, demographic and socio-political problems arise that no one inside the region or beyond will be able to cope with.

Kabylbekov, who heads the Ecological Foundation for the Preservation of Glaciers in Bishkek, argues that cooperation among the countries must focus on the preservation of glaciers and forests as the first line of defense against desertification and on the avoidance of any moves that could further contaminate sources of drinking water.

…And above all, Kabylbekov says, the countries must not be allowed to fight over water or over anything else: “We are not the Balkans. If military actions begin in Central Asia, humanity will lose these lands. In the Fergana valley, there are numerous uranium tales left over from Soviet time. … If God forbid they were disturbed, all of them would go into the Syrdarya.”

That would be “a tragedy for 500 years. And therefore, the Kyrgyz specialist argues, “we must have a special status,” on that will “prohibit all military actions in Central Asia.”

But is that probable or even possible? Most analysts point to growing conflicts over water because two countries in the region, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, have surpluses of water while two others, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan, are almost completely dependent on flows from the other two. Kazakhstan is in an intermediate position….”

This entry was posted on Sunday, June 29th, 2008 at 11:08 am and is filed under Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan.  You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.  Both comments and pings are currently closed. 

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