The United States maintains ‘cooperative relations’ with Turkmenistan

In an article titled “Examining U.S. Relations With Authoritarian Countries” authors Thomas Carothers and Benjamin Feldman examine 58 undemocratic countries and categorize them into four groups depending on their relations with the US: close, cooperative, cold, and adversarial. Cooperative group comprises thirty countries, including Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Meanwhile, Kyrgyzstan belongs to the ‘cold’ group.

Authors also examine the US democracy aid to these authoritarian countries. The USAID and the State Department fund most of the democracy aid. While the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) has a smaller budget, it puts greater focus on providing democracy aid to authoritarian contexts. For example, 32% of total NED grants globally were directed to authoritarian countries compared to 10% of official U.S. democracy aid.

The US government provided, on average, almost twice as much democracy aid to countries with ‘cold’ relations as to countries with ‘cooperative’ relations. For example, among Central Asian countries Turkmenistan received the smallest amounts of democracy aid both from the U.S. government and NED, while the largest recipient was Kyrgyzstan, which belongs to the ‘cold’ group.

In the 2022 fiscal year Turkmenistan received $770,000 in US government aid and in 2023 fiscal year received $346,820 from the National Endowment for Democracy Funding. One of the key focus areas for the US relations with Turkmenistan is talks around climate issues and plans to finance repairs of Turkmenistan’s leaky gas pipeline infrastructure.

Authors conclude that intensifying geostrategic clashes between the US and China, and the US and Russia will determine whether the US will maintain close and cooperative or cold and adversarial relations with authoritarian countries depending on whose side they take.

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