US warns of instability across Central Asia

By bne IntelliNews March 14, 2013

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A US intelligence report warns of the threat of instability in the Central Asian region, where there are numerous potential flashpoints both within states and across national borders.

"Central Asian leaders have prioritized regime stability over political and economic reforms that could improve long-term governance and legitimacy. Most fear any signs of Arab Spring-type uprisings and repress even small signs of discontent," says the Worldwide Threat Assessment, presented to Congress by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on March 12.

Ethnic conflicts in Central Asia "are also possible and could emerge with little warning", the report continues, citing the outbreak of violence between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in south Kyrgyzstan in June 2010. Nearly three years later, "in the absence of government efforts to lead reconciliation, tensions between these ethnic groups remain high."

There is also the danger of cross-border conflicts, the report warns. "The Central Asian states have not built constructive relationships with each other," it cautions. "[P]ersonal rivalries and longstanding disputes over borders, water, and energy create bilateral frictions between neighbors and potential flashpoints for conflict."

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