Israel has gradually extended its influence in Central Asia, both strengthening and diversifying bilateral relations there in order to open the doors of the region to its investments in ways that will bolster its position in Palestine and the region and have repercussions for Arab relations with the nations of Central Asia. Since the collapse of the former Soviet Union there has been an international scramble for influence in Central Asia and a race to penetrate its markets as well as to ensure access to its vast natural resources including oil, natural gas, gold and uranium. The mechanisms of influence – employed by various powers including Israel, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt (among others) – range from trade and economic incentives to joint business ventures and agreements to exchanges – technical, educational and cultural – as well cultural and religious initiatives inclusive of local Muslim populations and Jewish diasporas. This research paper seeks to respond to a number of important questions and significantly: What are the reasons for Israeli manoeuvring and penetration into Central Asia? What are the means by which Israel employs to facilitate the attendant processes? What are the factors that positively or negatively impact Israeli operations in the region? What are future scenarios for Israeli manoeuvring in and penetration of Central Asia? This paper operates on the hypothesis that Israeli penetration of Central Asia may have possible political and economic effects and negative repercussions for Arab relations with the region.
Israeli penetration of Central Asian nations and repercussions for relations with the Arab world*
Editor's note: This article, originally published in Arabic in al-Mustaqbal al-ʿArabī [The Arab Future] vol. 32, no. 371 (Beirut: Centre for Arab Unity Studies, 2010) under the title of ‘Al-Taghalghul al-Isrā'īlī Duwal āsyā al-Wusṭā wa Inʿikāsātuhu ‘alā ‘Alaqātihā maʿ al-Minṭaqā al-ʿArabīyah’, cites exclusively Arabic-language sources. A major facet and primary initiative of Contemporary Arab Affairs as a journal is to open up the world of Arab scholarship and Arabic-language critical academic output to the English-speaking world. This does not imply that Arab scholarship is restricted to Arabic-language sources as many prominent Arab scholars are multilingual and routinely conduct research in English, French and other languages. However, by publishing such material, which is otherwise unavailable to those who do not speak Arabic, this journal deliberately affords access to sources, analyses, information and points of view that would otherwise be unavailable, which do not necessarily reflect those of the Centre for Arab Unity Studies (Beirut), that of Contemporary Arab Affairs or Routledge (Taylor and Francis, UK). For English language articles and discussion of different points of view, see: Aras, Bulent: Post Cold-War realities: Israel's strategy in Azerbaijan and Central Asia. Middle East Policy, Vol 5, No 4, 1998, pp. 68–81. http://www.questia.com/googleScholar.qst?docId=96397428; Ehteshami, A. & Murphy, Emma C: The non-Arab Middle East states and the Caucasian/Central Asian republics: Iran and Israel. International Relations, Vol. 12, No. 1, April 1994, pp. 81–107 http://ire.sagepub.com/content/12/1/81.extract; Bishku, Michael B: The South Caucasus republics and Israel. Middle Eastern Studies, Vol. 45, No. 2, 2009, pp. 295–314 http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~db=all~content=a909878067.
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Jasim Unis al-Hariri; Israeli penetration of Central Asian nations and repercussions for relations with the Arab world. Contemporary Arab Affairs 1 July 2011; 4 (3): 322–340. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/17550912.2011.593956
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