Assessment of Strategic Implications of Population Dynamics in the Central Region—Integration Report: Great Power Competition

March 2020 No Comments

Authors | Editors: Bragg, B. (NSI, Inc.); Canna, S. (NSI, Inc.); Popp, G. (NSI, Inc.)

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At the request of United States Central Command (USCENTCOM), SMA initiated a study to understand the strategic implications of destabilizing population dynamics within the Central Region. The effort examined drivers of instability in the region emerging from radicalization, great power competition, state-level instability, and black swan scenarios. This report integrates the research conducted by the teams listed on the front cover in response to USCENTCOM’s questions about great power competition. This report is intended to be a succinct, easily navigable representation of the exceptional work by the collective SMA team. Please click on the links embedded in the report to go directly to the research studies.

Russian and Chinese Interests and Goals Within the USCENTCOM AOR

  • Competition for regional influence between the US and Russia and China is inevitable.
  • Neither Russia nor China are likely to resort to conflict to achieve regional dominance, even in Central Asia. China’s overwhelming economic advantage means Russia does not pose an existential threat, and Russia knows it is unlikely to “win” in any direct competition with China.
  • Reducing US influence is seen by both Russia and China as a more effective strategy for furthering their own interests than competing with each other.
  • There are regional (geopolitical) variations within USCENTCOM AOR countries that are reflected in Russia and China’s activities in, and relative leverage over, specific states.
  • Globally, MENA is the region where China’s interests place it under the most direct pressure to intervene in security matters.
  • MENA tends to be the focus of USG policies and resource expenditure, but Central Asia is critical to the economic and power projection goals of both Russia and China.

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