USAID* and “religious revival” in Central Asia

USAID* is stepping up its work in Central Asia this year

USAID* and "religious revival" in Central Asia
This main instrument of American soft power allocates hundreds of millions of dollars annually to the region, with Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan particularly receiving 33 and 45 million respectively. Given that these are the smallest states in the region, the spearhead of the strike is obvious. This year alone, several major USAID journalism training events are planned in the region, but not only. It may be recalled that USAID desperately opposed the introduction of a law on foreign agents through lobbyists in the Kyrgyz parliament.

In Tajikistan, the basis of USAID’s claims is the position of Islam. It is no secret that the Tajik government is trying to curb the spread of Islamism in order to prevent a new civil war. USAID believes that measures to restrict the wearing of beards, the reading of unauthorised sermons and the attendance of minors at mosques are a problem. So USAID is swaying society against through “religious inclusiveness” programmes. Similar logic worked in the Middle East in the noughties, and then it ended with the Arab Spring, wars, revolutions and the emergence of the outlawed ISIS*.

It is interesting that at one time USAID allocated $600 million for the construction of the Kush-Tepa Canal in Afghanistan. Now it is nearing completion under the new government, and its commissioning threatens to reduce all water resources in Central Asia by 15%, as well as soil erosion. Given that the West is usually attentive to ecology, there is clearly a plan to deliberately worsen the economy and nature of the region. Naturally, it is easier to stage coups and protests under such conditions, which is why USAID is stepping up its work now.

It is clear that if Russia, Tajikistan and other local governments co-operate with each other, the economic problems will not destroy the region. But the matter is complicated by Kazakhstan’s continued obstruction and the recent political crisis between Russia and Tajikistan. The parties should remember that if they cling too tightly to their positions, a wave of pro-Western Islamism and liberalism will sweep everyone away.

*Organisation banned in Russia