1Two decades after the Soviet regime's collapse, military and security institutions of Central Asia play an ever more important role in supporting national regimes and addressing national and regional challenges. After becoming independent in 1991, the leaders of Central Asian countries increased their reliance on the military in address addressing security challenges. Too often, however, decisions over military institutions are concentrated in the hands of individual leaders that like to see both police and army loyal to their rule.
2Kyrgyzstan’s former preside Kurmanbek Bakiyev’s violent oppression of mass demonstration on April 7, 2010, as well as Uzbek president Islam Karimov’s use of military in Andijan massacre in May 2005 have proven that in order to retain own grip on power despotic leaders are ready to resort to armed support at the cost of civilian lives. Future political regime changes in Central Asia might be accompanied with even harsher means of civilian oppression. By growing loyal to individual political leaders, as opposed to institutions, the likelihood that Central Asian militaries will potentially play an important role in responding to political change increases.
3Despite Central Asian’s leaders’ reliance on military and police forces, the region’s power institutions have been in the margins of scholarly work. Dramatic political developments in Kyrgyzstan in 2010 have shown that the military and police became part of political and social crises rather than a solution. But regional studies lacked enough expertise to pin down possible reasons why Kyrgyzstan’s power institutions acted the way they did.
4Our knowledge on Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan militaries and police forces is even scarcer. Despite having significantly different military capacity Tajikistan and Uzbekistan face similar set of issues: incumbent leaders sought to centralize control over the army in their hands, using both military and police against their opponents. Should there be civilian unrest or ethnic strife the military is likely to use violence against citizens.
5Kazakhstan, on the other hand, has made huge strides towards modernizing its military and making it more professional. The country has developed strong ties with NATO’s Partnership for Peace program. However, similarly is it ready to respond professionally and effectively to emergency situations, civil unrest or ethnic conflict?
6This issue focuses on the changes that have taken place in Central Asian military institutions since the fall of the Soviet Union, as well as the lingering continuities of the Soviet legacy. Sebastien Peyrouse offers a comprehensive overview of Central Asia power institutions. He details major domestic and regional developments in the military, including major political decisions over the training and procurement and implications of collaboration with NATO and Collective Security Treaty Organization.
7Two other articles are focused the case of Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. Frakhod Tolipov analyzes decisions Uzbekistan’s political leadership in the past two decades, security challenges the country faces, and the problem power institutions encounter. Finally, Erica Marat tries to disentangle the underlying reasons behind Kyrgyz military and police forces’ unprofessional behavior during ethnic conflict in Osh on June 10-14.
Erica Marat, « Introduction », The Journal of Power Institutions in Post-Soviet Societies [Online], Issue 11 | 2010, Online since 03 March 2011, connection on 29 March 2017. URL : http://pipss.revues.org/3809Top of page
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