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Central Asiangovernments are just beginning to measure the effects of thechanges of the Arab Spring onthe emerging regional order.Central Asia is not part of theMiddle East; however, it hasdirect relations with many of itsactors, namely Turkey and Iran,as well as a growing relationshipwith both Israel and the UnitedArab Emirates. The post-ArabSpring regional order has jeopardized Israel’s geostrategicbalance, and so that country islooking to deepen alliances inthe Muslim world. Central Asian
nations can fll that role.
Israel and Central Asia:Opportunities and Limits for Partnershipin a Post-Arab Spring World
by Marlène Laruelle
Te Arab Spring deeply shocked —and worried — all o the Central Asiangovernments. Although they haveanalyzed these events mainly romthe perspective o their own domesticpolicies, they are just beginning tomeasure the eects o these changes onthe emerging regional order. CentralAsia is not part o the Middle East;however, it has direct relations withmany o its actors, namely urkey andIran, as well as a growing relationshipwith both Israel and the United ArabEmirates (UAE). Ironically, Western-produced analyses on the complexrelationships between Middle Easterncountries and Central Asian onesoen orget Israel, where interactionsare long-established and cordial inthe political, economic and strategicrealms, and based on shared views o world order and intense person-to-person relations. Te post-Arab Springregional order has largely transormedthe Central Asia-Israel potential part-nership.In their rst years o independence,the Central Asian states largely turnedto the Islamic
, led by the ideao recreating the bonds with theirMuslim “brothers” that the Sovietregime had destroyed. Nonethe-less, they remained very reluctant toparticipate in any anti-Israeli collectivenarrative. Tis strategy became morepronounced in the second hal o the1990s, when all states in the regionslowed their cooperation with Arabcountries over concerns about theintroduction o unmanaged, radicalIslam on their territory. Pressures romIran, which sought to adopt resolu-tions against Israel during its 1997-2000 presidency o the Organizationo the Islamic Conerence (OIC), ledthe Central Asian states to keep theirdistance rom the organization onbehal o their good relations with elAviv. Iran also sought a leading role inthe Economic Cooperation Organiza-tion (ECO), but again, the CentralAsian states rejected ehran’s attemptsto politicize the organization; they demanded that the role o the ECO belimited to development assistance andregional transport.Te alliance between Israel and theCentral Asian states did not waver inthe 2000s. On the contrary, all o theCentral Asian governments cultivatedtheir secular traditions and steppedup their anti-Islamic stance or earo the development o domestic,Islamic-oriented opposition. Islamhas no specic legal status in any o the ve states in the region, and theght against alleged Islamic extremismhas become a mainstay o domesticand oreign policies. Uzbekistanhas mastered this security-oriented