The Impact of UAVs on Permanent Peace in Central Asia

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For the Central Asian states that gained their independence after the end of the Cold War, their independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and unitary structures were among the most uncompromising issues. As a result of the developments in the 30-year independence process, the states of the region have experienced that the main argument that should be applied in order not to compromise on these values and principles and to make regional development sustainable is peace and solidarity.

In this process, states and leaders adopted an attitude of reconciliation rather than competition and showed a strong will to overcome various problems. For this reason, the conflicts in the region in some periods were greeted with serenity by the actors and the conflicts were replaced by calmness thanks to the high-level contacts. At this point, it should be emphasized that the prudent attitude of the states of the region in the face of crises is admirable. As a result of this awareness, Central Asia is experiencing one of the most stable and peaceful periods in the current conditions. In addition, the peace and stability environment in the region has taken on a structural character based on a win-win understanding through various regional integration moves and developed cooperation projects.

Despite the steps taken to establish regional stability, the biggest disadvantage of Central Asia is that it is located in the near vicinity of Afghanistan. In particular, the fact that Uzbeks, Turkmen and Tajiks live in Afghanistan and that various terrorist organizations operate in that country cause the states in Central Asia to be more careful and pay maximum attention to their security. For this reason, increasing their defense capacity to ensure their security is one of the priorities of the countries in the region. For this aim, it is seen that these countries have recently purchased armed and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) as a part of their security policies. It is known that the countries that come to the fore in UAVs exports are the United States of America (USA), Israel, China, France and Turkey.

The main Central Asian states that strengthen their defense capacity by importing UAVs from various countries are Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. It is not correct to claim that UAVs purchased to ensure border security against regional threats causes a security dilemma. Because when the use of UAVs in a wide geography from Libya to Africa, from Ukraine to Karabakh as recent examples is examined, it is not an attack; They appear to be defensive weapons. States strengthen their defense capacities and increase their deterrence against threats by means of these weapons.

The situation in question reveals that the UAVs exporting countries are not party to any conflict or destructive attitude with their sales, on the contrary, they support the sovereignty and security of the regional states against aggressors by contributing to the defense of the countries. Because importing countries can benefit from UAVs as a deterrent against aggressor states. This reveals that the UAVs exporting actors have an approach that supports the defense capacities of the states with which they have commercial relations and aims at peace.

In addition, UAVs are an important tool, especially in the fight against terrorism, with their performance. UAVs, which have become a necessity in the fight against a threat such as terrorism, are of great importance for the states neighboring Afghanistan. Radical and separatist organizations in the region are one of the main factors threatening the security of Central Asia. Because in today’s conjuncture, where terrorist organizations are getting stronger day by day, geography is no longer an advantage. However, UAVs have facilitated the neutralization of terrorist organizations in difficult geographies where they are used. As a matter of fact, there is no example of any state receiving UAVs using these weapons for the purpose of attacking other states.

Actually, the fact that any state does not use UAVs in violation of international law and the sovereignty of countries shows the reliability and sincerity of exporting countries, not only on the basis of discourse; but confirms on the basis of action.

Aware of the contribution of UAVs to the regional security environment, the regional states have started to take concrete steps in the production of these weapons. For example, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are the main actors taking steps in UAVs production in Central Asia. However, this process did not cause the two countries to move away from each other and to see each other as a threat. In fact, the parties decided to strengthen the relationship between them and increased their relations to the level of strategic partnership and alliance. It is possible to say that UAVs will have a similar effect in strengthening the relations between other regional states due to their contribution to the regional security environment.

In short, states that can produce UAVs technology export UAVs to various countries of the world. As can be seen from these sales, the aforementioned weapons are not used in a way that would harm the sovereignty and territorial integrity of other states or in violation of international law. Therefore, UAVs exports do not mean arming a state against other states. As already stated, the fact that UAVs have come to the forefront as effective deterrent technologies against the occupying forces or terrorist organizations that are the source of instability in the geographies, they use has served to establish an environment of stability and security. Recent developments in the Caucasus and Central Asia also reveal that UAVs, as effective instruments, contribute to a more structural peace and tranquility in order to develop trust-based regional cooperation.

As a result, UAVs contribute to the security, peace and stability of Central Asia. In this sense, UAVs sales to the countries of the region do not contribute to the deterioration of the balances and equations, but to the settlement of them in a much stronger way. Because the countries with UAVs come to the forefront as states that can establish partnerships rather than being the actors whose will of foreign powers can be imposed. Therefore, UAVs play a significant and constructive role in establishing peace and stability in Central Asia, strengthening the defense capacities of the regional states and improving interstate relations.

Emrah KAYA
ANKASAM Dış Politika Uzmanı Emrah KAYA, Akdeniz Üniversitesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü’nden mezundur. Yüksek lisans derecesini 2014 yılında Süleyman Demirel Üniversitesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü’nde hazırladığı “Latin Amerika'da Sol Liderlerin Yükselişi ve Uluslararası Politikaya Etkisi: Venezuela-Bolivya Örneği (Rising of the Left Leaders in Latin America and its Effects to International Politics: An Example of Venezuela-Bolivia)” başlıklı teziyle almıştır. Doktora eğitimine yine Süleyman Demirel Üniversitesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü’nde devam eden KAYA, tez aşamasındadır. Başlıca çalışma alanları; Orta Asya, Latin Amerika, Güvenlik, Terörizm, Barış Süreçleri’dir. KAYA’nın çeşitli kitap ve dergilerde çalışmalarının yanı sıra ulusal ve uluslararası medya kuruluşlarında analizleri yayınlanmıştır.