Central Asian states stuck between Iran and West – expert

Posted on March 30, 2012

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The Central Asian states, especially Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, are stuck between Iran and West, U.S. Northeastern University Professor Kamran Dadkhah said.

“They [the Central Asian states] are caught in the middle,” Dadkhah underscored.

The U.S. Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia, Robert Blake called on Central Asian countries to support sanctions against Iran and refuse to trade and other relations with this country at the Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA-V) on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Iran tries to intensify cooperation with the countries of the region, especially Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. Iran and Turkemenistan should intensify the implementation of join projects, especially the Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran railway project, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said at a meeting with Turkmenistan’s vice Prime Minister Baymurad Khodjamuhammedov in Tehran on Wednesday.

Earlier this week Ahmadinejad paid a three-day visit to Dushanbe, where he discussed the cooperation with Tajikistan and Afghanistan, the implementation of joint economical projects, assessing the held talks as “very good”.

Iran and Tajikistan are involved in the implementation of a very important regional project – China-Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan-Afghanistan-Iran railway, which, if implemented, may strongly affect the region’s economy. The projects preliminary cost is $3.2 billion.

Dadkhah believes these Central Asian countries are put in an unenviable position.

“On one hand, it is important for them to have close and friendly relationships with the United States and the West,” he said. “On the other hand, they cannot easily antagonize a neighbor, such as Iran”.

Aside from economic benefits, the countries would need the United States to safeguard their independence, expert believes.

The expert believes, it is best for the countries to assure the U.S. in private that they will carry out the sanctions and indeed to fulfill the promise.

“But publicly they need to keep the appearance of being neutral and for example declaring that they only abide by the UN sanctions,” Dadkhah said.

*this article was prepared by me, and my work associate Victoria.

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