worldview.stratfor.com: The countries of Central Asia are not known for rapid change or substantial reform, but Uzbekistan is experiencing both. Until his sudden death from a brain aneurism in 2016, Uzbekistan had been ruled through a centralized government headed by Islam Karimov, president since the country declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Under Karimov, Uzbekistan was highly isolationist, eschewing strategic alignments with foreign powers and engaging in bitter disputes with its Central Asian neighbors over border demarcation and water rights. A pervasive security apparatus controlled the country domestically, while the economic and monetary systems were tightly regulated and largely closed to foreign investment.
The ninth largest by territory country in the world -- Kazakhstan -- is embarking on a technological revolution that has never been conceived in the post-Soviet area. According to central Asian experts it includes ubiquitous automation, robotization, development of artificial intelligence and the international technology park of start-ups that might seem unreal for the neighboring countries in the entire Central Asian region, at least for now. In addition, Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev tasked his government to diversify economy and set the new course until 2025.
The process of building and rerouting energy distribution networks from northern Kazakhstan to the south has been under way for many years and was sparked originally by the Kazakh government's desire to stop having to deal with Uzbekistan for gas supplies.
International environmental experts encourage Central Asian states to resolve the looming water crisis together
Some 1.5 million people die every year because of the deteriorating environment in Europe and Central Asia, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) official data. People are dying from the air pollution and difficult access to drinking water. Fourteen people die every day, the organization said, due to water shortage.
Since Shavkat Mirziyoyev's rise to power in Uzbekistan, following the death of its former autocratic leader Islam Karimov, experts said it would be naïve to expect any major changes in the country's politics, as well as reforms for better human rights and freedom of speech. The appointment of Shavkat Mirziyoyev right after Islam Karimov's death as Uzbekistan's new interim president reflects the country's closer ties with Russia, despite U.S. competition for influence in the strategic country
Cases of voluntary nuclear disarmament are fairly rare. Along with Belarus, Ukraine, and South Africa, however, Kazakhstan is on the list of former atomic nations. Having once been at the heart of the Soviet nuclear program, the country closed its infamous Semipalatinsk Test Site in 1989 and transferred its atomic arsenal to Russia in the following years. Modern Kazakhstan has in fact rebranded itself as a supporter of nonproliferation policies and peaceful atomic energy. And as this Russian language article on the Carnegie Moscow Center site details, the role of this Central Asian republic should not be underestimated.
"Kyrgyzstan’s presidential campaign has started off with the arrest of a main contender for the post. Omurbek Tekebayev’s fate shows the country remains far from democratic," writes Daniil Kislov - a poet, journalist and essayist from Uzbekistan. He currently lives in Moscow. He is the main editor of the online news portal Fergana News.
Kyrgyz-based online publication Chabarman.kg has made an analysis of the religious situation in Kyrgyzstan.