[In many ways, we are still watching the Post-Soviet collapse, as the machinery of the Soviet Empire is crumbling and the bill for its repair is rapidly coming due, on ruling Oligarchs who have failed to invest in reviving the State. Money which should have gone into modernizing the lifelines of the vast Commonwealth of Independent States was short-circuited into the bank accounts of Russia's top Communist officials and the most powerful Russian mobsters. This great robbery gave a handful of mostly corrupt individuals the power to make decisions for the citizens of the independent republics. For the most part, they made bad decisions for the people, but made unbelievable profits for themselves. Life went on in the former Communist Empire, but it went on, missing the critical financial component. Lack of infrastructure investments since the USSR collapsed and lack of workforce maintainance and student industrial education have resulted in a worker deficit that will go on for many years, either until new people are trained, or imported foreign technicians and corporate developers come in and fill the gap. The Westernization of the Soviet industrial base may be inevitable, since the Eastern bloc relinquished the responsibility long ago.]
Paul Quinn-Judge , Gabriela Keseberg Dávalos , Foreign Policy in Spanish
So slowly but surely, material and human infrastructure of Central Asia is disappearing: roads, power plants, hospitals and schools as well as the latest generation of specialists, those involved in its operation and were trained by the Soviets. Post-independence regimes made little effort to maintain or replace both the technology that is wearing out, and the staff who are retiring or dying.The funds for this purpose have been eaten away by corruption and the collapse has generated protests. It has even overthrown a government.
All countries in the region are affected by this situation one way or another.However, the two poorest, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, are desperate. Their own experts say that in the coming years there will be teachers for their children and doctors to treat patients. Power cuts in Tajikistan in winter and are a tradition.Last up to more than twelve hours in rural areas. Kyrgyzstan also in the electrical system failures are increasingly common. Experts in both countries are concerned about the catastrophic collapse likely general, especially in the energy sector. Unless you take out a policy change, will face a future of eroded roads, schools and medical institutions run by retirees, or a new generation of teachers, doctors or engineers, whose shares will be purchased rather than earned by its own merits. These problems are exacerbated by other political vulnerabilities, including the expansion of the insurgency, the aging of an autocrat in Tajikistan and Kyrgyz State dangerously weakened.
Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan are in the same direction. It is difficult to say how serious is the situation, since there is no reliable information or is secret. What it is obvious that extravagant and optimistic public statements are not reflected at all in reality. Hospitals marble facade model of Turkmenistan and the false prosperity of Uzbekistan statements are not the solution to the problems of these countries. Even Kazakhstan, the only country operating in the region will go through an ordeal because of deficiencies in their infrastructure. It has major problems especially in the area of transportation and the training of technical staff. Any dream of economic diversification and modernization will wait.
The current dilemma living these five countries has several causes. When they were part of the USSR, were incorporated into one system, especially in the areas of transportation and energy. These interdependencies have been difficult to undo, and produced serious imbalances. During the Soviet era, everyone was forced to work together. Now however do not need or have good relations between them, especially when it comes to energy issues. Education and health services were affected by the term social safety net. But far worse is that governments in the region seem to have believed that the Soviet legacy would last forever. The funds should be allocated to reforms in education, training and maintenance were often misused and insufficient.
The consequences of this neglect are too terrible to be ignored. The rapid deterioration of infrastructure will deepen poverty and alienation of the state.The disappearance of the basic services provided to the radical Islamists, already strong in many Central Asian states, more arguments against regional leaders. They give you space to build support networks and influence. Economic development and poverty reduction will become an illusion, while the poorest countries will become even more dependent on the export of labor. In fact, anger at the sharp decline in basic services played a key role in the unrest that led to the ouster of Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev in April 2010. This resentment can be expressed similarly in other states in the region in the not too distant future, especially in Tajikistan.
Also, events in one of the five countries may have an adverse effect on its adjacent. In fact, a polio outbreak in Tajikistan in 2010 required an immunization campaign in neighboring Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, and infections were reported as far afield as Russia. Similarly, Central Asia may be adversely affected by its neighbors in the region: further decline in infrastructure is likely to match more instability in Afghanistan and a possible spillover of insurgency from there.
The needs are clear, and there are solutions to the weakening of the infrastructure. The fundamental problem is that Central Asia’s ruling elites are unwilling to take steps to meet the basic prerequisites. This amounts to nothing less than total repudiation of the values and behavior of regional leaders. Need to purge the corruption of their governments to stop using the resources of their countries for themselves and their families and create a meritocracy with decent salaries would free up officers need to rely on corruption. These changes are so far from the current reality that foreign governments and donors surely struck from idealists. But without an organized change from above, there is a serious risk of chaotic change from below.
Donors are not doing anything to prevent this. His cautious approach seems largely inspired by the desire not to upset regional leaders to use the financial means at their disposal to create real change. Financial aid is generally used to meet annual or plans to move forward with broader geopolitical objectives.Without the participation of donors, the status quo will remain for some years but not more than that. The collapse of the infrastructure could weaken the regime, creating huge uncertainty in one of the most fragile parts of the world.
Paul Quinn-Judge is the Project Director of Crisis Group’s Central Asia
Gabriela is Keseberg Dávalos Crisis Communications Group