Fortnightly Review and Analysis: Iran, West Asia, Eurasia, Central Asian Republics (CAR) & Africa (Vol 2 Issue XVIII)

Sep 16-30, 2017

CAR

Central Asian Leaders Participate in the General Debate of UNGA

72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) opened on 12 September in New York. The General Debate took place from 19-25 September, in which participated high-level representatives from all the member states. They spoke about the issues concerning their respective countries in particular, and their regions and the world at large.

All five Central Asian Republics (CARs) sent representatives for the 72nd Session. Three amongst the five CARs were represented by the Heads of States, namely President Emomali Rahmon of Tajikistan, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev of Uzbekistan and President Almazbek Atambayev of Kyrgyzstan. Kazakhstan sent the Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Kairat Abdrakhmanov for this session; whereas Turkmenistan was represented by the Permanent Representative to the UN Mrs Aksoltan Atayeva.

In their addresses during the General Debate, representatives from all five CARs reiterated the importance of the UN in international relations. They also called for reforms of the UN system to reflect realities of the contemporary world. President of Tajikistan Mr. Rahmon proposed that the UN Security Council should be duly expanded to include representatives from the developing countries. While endorsing the Sustainable Development Goals prescribed by the UN, all leaders from CARs mentioned about their national developmental programmes directed to achieve sustainable growth.

Central Asian leaders voiced concerns about rising threat of terrorism and violent extremism. They appealed to the international community for the coordinated efforts to curb this menace, and applauded the activities of UN Office of Counter- Terrorism in this arena. Uzbek President Mr. Mirziyoyev highlighted the importance of education as a barrier for the spread of radical ideology, especially amongst the youth. He also highlighted the importance of communicating the ‘humanitarian essence’ of Islam. Tajik President Mr. Rahmon appealed to some countries to refrain from using double standards.

The representatives reiterated that peace, security and stability of Afghanistan is important for the Central Asian region, and mentioned that Afghan issue can be solved only through peaceful negotiations. They also announced their active support to Afghanistan in developmental activities, especially in the fields of transport, connectivity and energy. Participants from Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan raised voices about violence against Rohingya Muslim community in Myanmar. Some of the speakers also talked about the importance of nuclear non-proliferation and renounced the nuclear programme of North Korea. Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan Mr. Abdrakhmanov mentioned about the Astana Process to peacefully dissolve the Syrian crisis. He also called for a Two-state solution for Israel-Palestine.

Representatives from all five CARs underlined the importance of connectivity and transport infrastructure for the overall development of the region. All of them being landlocked, their economies are heavily dependent of railways and land routes to connect to important ports of the region. CARs are cooperating with each other in this regard, based on the principles of good neighborliness. While all CARs have endorsed the Belt and Road Initiative of China, it was only the Kazakh Foreign Minister Mr. Abdrakhmanov who mentioned about it in his address.

Most participants raised concerns about Climate Change and highlighted the importance of green economy. In spite of being an energy-rich country, Kazakhstan underlined the importance of developing alternate energy sources. This was reflected through the Kazakh side adopting ‘Future Energy’ as the theme for Expo 2017 that took place in Astana. Uzbek President mentioned about the Aral Sea ecological catastrophe. In Central Asia, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are two mountainous countries, which are the worst victims of effects of Climate Change. Both these sides voiced worries about increasing natural disasters and melting of glaciers, which could affect not only these two republics, but the region at large. Leaders called for consorted efforts to deal with these problems, and appealed to UN for help and support in this regard.

Nazarbayev Visits Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan

President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev paid a state visit to Uzbekistan on 16 September 2017. During visit, he held one on one meeting with the President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev. They discussed prospects of further development of cooperation between Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan in the political, trade-economic, investment, transport-communication, cultural, humanitarian and other fields, as well as exchanged views on current regional and international issues of mutual interest. At the end of this meeting, a joint statement was signed by the two Presidents. More than 10 documents were signed covering various spheres of cooperation, including reconstruction and modernization of border crossing points, cooperation in the sphere of water relations, energy, combating smuggling and violation of customs legislation, strategic cooperation in the railway sector.
During this tour, Kazakh President Nazarbayev and Uzbek President Mirziyoyev visited Mustaqillik Square, the monument of independence and humanity, and laid flowers at the monument commemorating the first President of Uzbekistan late Islam Karimov. He also paid visit to the mausoleum of Tolebi, who was the renowned clergy and author of the Kazakh origin. Later, Nazarbayev participated in the launching ceremony of the Uzbek translation of his own book. These events underline the historical and cultural bonds between the two peoples. Further, it was decided to hold the Year of Uzbekistan in 2018 in Kazakhstan, and the Year of Kazakhstan in Uzbekistan in 2019.

By the decree of the President of Uzbekistan, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, was presented the El-Yurt Hurmati (Respect of the Country) Order for “great services in deepening and expanding friendship and strategic partnership ties between (the two) countries, and strengthening international cooperation for peace and progress".

Relationship between Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan has witnessed a qualitative shift in recent months. Since taking over as the President, Mirziyoyev has visited Kazakhstan on several occasions. The two heads of states have met six times and have exchanged seven telephone calls in last 6 months. Trade between these countries has increased by 35 percent in 2017. Most importantly, warm relations between the two leaders have given impetus to the overall process of regional cooperation within Central Asia.

After successful conclusion of visit to Uzbekistan, President Nazarbayev paid a working visit to Turkmenistan on 17 September 2017. He held one on one meeting with his Turkmen counterpart President Gurbanguly Berdimukhmedov. The two leaders discussed the current condition and prospects of inter-state collaboration, outlined its priority directions and spoke for active consolidation of mutually beneficial trade and economic cooperation, expansion of business, humanitarian, scientific and educational contacts.

During visit, Nazarbayev participated in the opening ceremony of the 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, and met with the Kazakh National Team and sports delegation. He congratulated Turkmenistan on successful organization of such an extravagant sports event.

This visit by the Kazakh President was timely and important in the light of relationship between the Central Asian neighbors has witnessed positive growth in the recent past. These countries are actively cooperating with each other in the fields of transport-connectivity, communication, energy and human development. Presidents of the three important and resource-rich republics, namely Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, have intensified bilateral contacts and political engagements. This has also reflected in increase in trade and economic cooperation. These developments have opened a new chapter in the Central Asian energy cooperation.

Africa

Trump Meets African Leaders at 72nd United Nation General Assembly Meet

At the 72nd UNGA, President Trump met with several Presidents of Africa. They were from Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Uganda, Malawi, Mali, Cameroon, Gambia and Gabon. According to President Trump, Africa has huge business potential as six of the world’s fastest economy are from Africa. The United States pledged greater cooperation in fight against terrorist groups which includes Al Qaida, Bioko Haram and Islamic State of Iraq and Syria to cut down their finances. North Korea as a security threat remained the prime talking point as President Trump urged the African leaders to take a United Stand. He also described the African leaders as partners for promoting prosperity and peace. Finally, Trump pledged that the United States would partner with African countries and organization like the African Union to end violence in order to prevent spread of terrorism and respond to humanitarian crises.

Ethiopia and the World Bank Signs $1.3bn Deal

Ethiopia is in need of urgent humanitarian assistance for about 8.5 million people who are affected by a severe drought. In order to improve governance and support the country which is severely hit by drought plus food shortages, Ethiopia and the World Bank has signed a $1.3 billion deal. Of the total amount, $700 million would be used to improve equitable access to basic services and strengthen accountability in education, health, agriculture and other sectors. The remaining amount will help to finance the East African country’s “Rural Productive Safety Net” scheme, which is handing out cash or food to eight million people in exchange for participation in public development projects. The latest development comes on the heels of International Monetary Fund (IMF) praise and caution for Addis Ababa, after a team visited the country and in a statement praised Ethiopia’s economic strides for the year 2016-2017. The team has also argued for reforms to improve the business climate. The failure of successive rainy seasons, blamed by meteorologists on fluctuations in ocean temperatures known as the Indian Ocean Dipole has created a series of severe back-to-back droughts not only in Ethiopia, rather the whole of the Horn of Africa region.

Ethiopia Ethnic Clashes: Hundreds' Dead and Thousands Displaced in the Conflict

Ethiopia is divided into ethnically-based federal regions where the Oromo and Somali people have for years argued over who controls arable land along their shared border. Few days back, clash erupted between the two of the country's largest ethnic groups. The incident led to killing and displacement of many people. For the time being the fight that started along the border between the regional states belonging to the two ethnic groups has been curbed by police and soldiers. A national task force has also been set up to address the needs of the displaced.