Tajikistan remains the most vulnerable of the Central Asian nations. In the decade since it became independent, it has been wracked by civil war and seen its economy all but collapse.
In response to the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania on 11 September 2001, the United States and a broad though informal coalition of allies and like minded states are building up a military capability in Central Asia that will in all likelihood strike inside Afghanistan.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the independent states that emerged in Central Asia had to begin almost from scratch in building both military forces and security strategies.
All the new Central Asian republics have weathered a catastrophic economic storm with the collapse of the Soviet economy and a subsequent array of shocks including exclusion from the rouble zone, disruptive privatisation processes, the drought of 2000 and tumbling world cotton prices.
The real but greatly exaggerated existence of militant Islamic movements is being cited to legitimate repressive measures by the governments of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and, especially, Uzbekistan.
Beginning in early August, a series of violent incidents have brought more attention to the prospects for large scale conflict in Central Asia than at any time since the end of Tajikistan’s civil war.
Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan each face the prospect of civil unrest and large-scale violence. This is not a certain outcome and may be avoided if the governments make substantial changes in domestic policy, but the risks are high and mounting.