Uzbekistan: National Security Strategy
Uzbekistan gained independence in September 1981. It has since developed strategies to ensure economic, social and political stability. Uzbekistan has established economic and political links with several countries and international organizations such as the European Union (EU), North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Common Wealth of Independent States (CIS) and Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Having one of the largest populations of Central Asia, Uzbekistan’s National Security Strategy plays a vital role in maintaining regional stability and economic growth.
The independence of the five Central Asian nations (Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan) has paved way for the establishment of new international relations. Within the region, Uzbekistan plays an important role in the transformation and development of new strategic alliances. These strategies cover a broad spectrum of issues that include technology, military affairs, diplomatic ties, intelligence resources, economic and commercial relations. As a result of the geopolitical transformations, Uzbekistan has established strategic alliances with countries like China, the United States, and Russia. Participation in international antiterrorist alliances has not only maintained security in Uzbekistan but also in the Central Asian region at large. Uzbekistan’s participation has also helped bring to the forefront true Islamic values and created a unique element different from the extremists’ ideologies.
Uzbekistan faces many transnational threats that include drug trafficking, terrorism, regional rivalries among different nations. For this reason, the country has actively involved itself with different associations including the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and has hosted the organization's Regional Anti-Terror Structure (RATS) since 2004. Owing to terror threats and the rising conflicts within the region, Uzbekistan adopted several legislative documents such as the Defense Doctrine (2000) and the National Security Concept (1997). The country made changes in its military structure and the state's security agencies. Different legislations have also led to significant civilian participation in security matters through the provision of expert analysis in National Security Council forums. In its national security strategies, Uzbekistan has realigned its military to focus on counter-terrorism owing to Islamic extremism from neighbors such as Afghanistan with whom they share a 137 km border stretch.
Uzbekistan’s national security strategies depend on both domestic developments and external ties. The country’s continued relationship with key partners such as China and Russia will play an important role in strengthening its external relations. Uzbekistan should take advantage of the geopolitical situation by participating in coalitions that will help it maintain security within and outside its borders.