Since antiquity, Afghanistan has been part of what is now referred to as Central Asia – politically, economically, and culturally. The imperial contest over Central and South Asia by the Russian and British empires in the 19th century traumatically severed Afghanistan from Central Asia, with lasting and problematic consequences. Because of Soviet policy, in addition to severing historic political, cultural, and economic linkages between Afghanistan and Central Asia, Afghanistan was psychologically separated as well; with Central Asia being thought of as the five former Soviet Socialist Republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. This detachment has forced Afghanistan into a “no man’s land,” with links to the Persian world, to South Asia, and to Central Asia, but belonging to none. The security of Afghanistan and its pertinence to Central Asia cannot be settled by the simple political exclusion of Afghanistan from Central Asia emerging from the demise of the Soviet empire. And neither can Afghanistan’s economy or large population be ignored. To ensure the security and prosperity of not just Afghanistan, but of the post-Soviet Central Asian states, it is time to reintegrate Afghanistan into Central Asia.
The Caspian Policy Center will bring together academic and foreign policy experts to discuss the case for the full reintegration of Afghanistan into Central Asia. This event is held in conjunction with the release of the Caspian Policy Center’s policy brief, “Afghanistan as a Part of Central Asia? The Case for Reintegration,” that explores the causes of Afghanistan’s anomalous separation from Central Asia, why Afghanistan should be reintegrated into the region, complicating factors to this effect, and how they can be overcome. The experts will also discuss the United States’ role in facilitating this process.
- 9:00 – 9:05 Welcome remarks – Efgan Nifti, Chief Executive Officer, Caspian Policy Center
- 9:05 – 10:25 Panel discussion and Q&A session
- Ambassador (Ret.) Richard Hoagland, Security and Politics Program Chair, Caspian Policy Center
- H.E. Roya Rahmani, Ambassador of Afghanistan to the United States
- H.E. Erzhan Kazykhanov, Ambassador of Kazakhstan to the United States
- H.E. Javlon Vakhabov, Ambassador of Uzbekistan to the United States
- Luke Coffey, Director, Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies, Heritage Foundation
• Major General U.S. Army (Ret.) Michael Repass, Senior Fellow, Caspian Policy Center
- 10:25 – 10:30 Closing remarks