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US-Uzbekistan: What does strategic partnership mean?


Roger Kangas, NESA, NDU and Navbahor Imamova, VOA Uzbek, June 8, 2018

Roger Kangas, dean of the Near East and South Asia Center at the National Defense University talked to Navbahor Imamova, VOA Uzbek, about what officials have been calling the new era of strategic partnership between Tashkent and Washington. How does such agreements work? What are the conditions for success? Below is the full transcript of the interview.

Navbahor Imamova, VOA Uzbek: Hello from Washington. I'm Navbahor Imamova at the Voice of America. Today I have Roger Kangas, NESA, NDU with us here from the National Defense University, where he is the dean of the Near East and South Asia Center. Roger, Near East and South Asia, and then you focus on Central Asia. How does that geography work at the National Defense University?

Roger Kangas, NESA, NDU: Yeah, it's a great title. The Near East South Asia Center, or NESA center, is one of the Department of Defense's regional centers. They all focus in different geographic areas. For us, it's North Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, South Asia. Jokingly, we think it should be MENACASA, Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia, South Asia but we'll condense it to NESA.

Navbahor Imamova, VOA Uzbek: That's so much area to cover.

Roger Kangas, NESA, NDU: It is a lot, and it's a region that straddles a number of our combatant commands. Central Command is our primary command responsibility, but we also look into the Indian Ocean with Pacific Command or Indo Pacific Command now. We look at Turkey, Israel, Palestine with European Command and of course North Africa with AFRICOM. They do have in common though, is that these are regions that all are struggling with issues of extremism, of border security, border stability. And it's a region that, quite frankly, is incredibly important to the United States.

Navbahor Imamova, VOA Uzbek: Hot part.

Roger Kangas, NESA, NDU: It's a hot part of the world, yeah.

Navbahor Imamova, VOA Uzbek: And the National Defense University, just so our audiences know, is part of the Pentagon, the Defense Department.

Roger Kangas, NESA, NDU: Correct. Yes. It's the senior professional military education center for the U.S. Department of Defense and our research center or regional center. We're fortunate to be tenants at National Defense University.

Navbahor Imamova, VOA Uzbek: And over the years you have focused a lot on Central Asia, even though you have a lot of other countries and regions to focus on... and even when the relations were not so good with Uzbekistan, you used to travel to the country. You have trained the Central Asian military. How does that work? How do you find time for Central Asia?

Roger Kangas, NESA, NDU: Well, for me, the good news is Central Asia was my first introduction to this region focusing on it still during the late Soviet period. Being an academic researcher in the early 1990s, and then later finally in the late 90s and early part of last decade, working with the Defense Department, having the opportunity to go back and, as you say, work with the militaries in the region and up to a couple of years ago my last trip to Uzbekistan. So, it's an area that I have a personal interest in, and I do see it fit well with the sorts of programs we do.

Navbahor Imamova, VOA Uzbek: And how hard is it to maintain that focus on the region? You know a lot of us complain that the U.S. doesn't pay enough attention to the region. But your center has always maintained a steady focus.

Roger Kangas, NESA, NDU: Yeah, it is ... It can be difficult, I should say. It's often done with a limited budget and limited personnel but we do try to keep these ties. We rely heavily on our connections with not just our embassies in the region but with the governments from Central Asia their embassies here in Washington, D.C., and when we work with security cooperation efforts and with our engagement programs with our counterparts in the region. I mean, it's an ongoing process. We're fortunate to maintain these ties and it is a task we consider to be a high priories.

Navbahor Imamova, VOA Uzbek: And the military cooperation, military assistance are some things that the governments can never say no in the region, right?

Roger Kangas, NESA, NDU: Yeah, but I mean it's one that we, in terms of the U.S. Department of Defense, has to ... I don't want to seriously justify but we have to show the value added because, let's remember the countries in the region, Uzbekistan in particular, have options, and they can look to different in different directions, and so when they decide to work with the United States, we hope it's for the right reasons, and we hope it's reasons that we share. And so then we can continue on those relations.

Navbahor Imamova, VOA Uzbek: Alright, well, there is a lot I want to discuss with you, starting with this new joint statement between the United States and Uzbekistan, which has launched a new era in strategic partnership. How important is this document?

Roger Kangas, NESA, NDU: In my opinion, I think it's very important. The notion of having a strategic partnership or a defined relationship with the country, not just an episodic ad hoc set of agreements, provides a road map. It provides opportunities, I should say, for both sides to figure out why should they engage with that country. What are the opportunities that are available, whether there are commercial interests military interests, security interests, diplomatic interests, human interest, in terms of university exchanges and other opportunities, and so I find that it sets a big framework. Now within it, both parties now have to figure out how to make it happen.

You know a document that lays out that both sides are interested in working with each other is fantastic, but making it happen requires the work of the staffs in both sides and people in both sides to continue to develop it.

Navbahor Imamova, VOA Uzbek: What was interesting for me when I read this, as a news junkie, as a policy junkie, in the first paragraph itself you see a reference to 2002, and that strategic partnership, as you know, didn't work out the way it was envisioned to work. So when I asked about this from Ambassador Pamela Spratlen to Uzbekistan, she said that that hope about 2002 partnership never died. We want it to build on that. We didn't want, essentially, to trash into it to push it aside. Would you agree with that assessment?

Roger Kangas, NESA, NDU: I do agree with Ambassador Spratlen on this. And, in my view, and particularly as someone who was traveling in and out of the region during this time, let's recall that this was shortly after the campaign in Afghanistan-

Navbahor Imamova, VOA Uzbek: It was a different political era.

Roger Kangas, NESA, NDU: Exactly. It was a different era. There was a strong sense that a country like Uzbekistan was needed not just to help the U.S. provide security in Afghanistan, and of course, we look at basing opportunities. We look at sort of the North-South commercial trade that could happen, and the way to integrate Afghanistan with Central Asia. It tied into a number of other U.S. interests. And so, in 2002, there was, I think on both sides, a view that this is something not just even to build on but that would really be sustained and would be a centerpiece of U.S. policy in the region.

Navbahor Imamova, VOA Uzbek: And some parts of it, one could argue that worked, or may be continued or was maintained, right?

Roger Kangas, NESA, NDU: And it's something I will say, that the challenge, and maybe the lesson that it provides us. We perhaps looked at it differently in how we saw this document and how we saw this relationship and how we define a strategic partnership. Perhaps the U.S. side was looking more at the strategic component. You know, we thought that Uzbekistan was important for our campaign in Afghanistan. From Tashkent's point of view, perhaps, it was more about the partnership. It was this close friend from the outside.

I think we need to make sure in 2018, that we understand our positions a little more clearly, and I think, over time, we're doing just that. And as you said we've worked on programs together since this, even when things haven't been so positive between the U.S. and Uzbekistan. There have been areas of engagement and so, quite frankly, there is a fair amount to build on.

Navbahor Imamova, VOA Uzbek: Yeah, and a lot of people in the Uzbek policy world actually have been wondering about how do these strategic partnerships work? What are the conditions? It's one thing when presidents agree on things and you have a joint statement, but as you earlier indicated that both systems now need to work. Now men and women who are in the middle or lower echelons of both governments have to do a lot of work. What are the main conditions for this to work, to be realized?

Roger Kangas, NESA, NDU: Well, the main conditions are simply that we have an understanding of what the clear parameters are what can or what could be done. You look at the language and say "Ah, okay. We can focus on commercial opportunities, or we can focus on person to person exchanges. We can focus on security cooperation." The next step, as you said, is the people who have to make this happen through various meetings, whether they're consultative staff talks, or opportunities for both sides to sit down and hammer out understandings of what each can and should do. But it requires that attention. It requires people devoting time to work on Uzbek portfolio, the strategic partnership. You can't just have an agreement and put it on a shelf, and say, "We'll work it later."

Navbahor Imamova, VOA Uzbek: It reads beautiful.

Roger Kangas, NESA, NDU: Yeah, it reads beautiful. Yeah, you have to keep at it. You also have to resource it. You have to put people against it. You have to put money against it. Time. You have to understand that not every single thing will work out the first time, that there will be setbacks. There may be commercial deals that don't quite work right because we already have legal regime and requirements that could match.

And so, it takes patience, and I would say, as a final point, it also takes some continuity. On the Uzbek side, that's probably less problematic because individuals do tend to keep positions perhaps for a longer period of time, and will work the U.S. issues or others. From the U.S. side, we do have a rotation, an attrition of people coming in and out, and so we need to be mindful of lessons learned from past people who've held positions, and keep these forward. Otherwise, we continually reinvent the wheel.

Navbahor Imamova, VOA Uzbek: Yeah, and as you just mentioned, U.S. and Uzbekistan are now committed to work closely on regional security, reforms in Uzbekistan... They also want to strengthen people-to-people ties. Economic cooperation is a big part of it, and Uzbek is very much interested in this. But, military cooperation stands out as something that U.S. is keenly interested in, and Uzbeks are very eager to work on it. How can we envision that cooperation?

Roger Kangas, NESA, NDU: It's interesting because you're right. This has been an area of engagement over the years, whether getting relations...

Navbahor Imamova, VOA Uzbek: Consistent.

Roger Kangas, NESA, NDU: Yeah, whether relations have been very positive, or they have been challenged. The amounts for security cooperation have varied. Some years it was quite high, and one is thinking particularly 2002, three, four, other years where it was significantly lower and all points in between.

Roger Kangas, NESA, NDU: But, at the end of the day, security cooperation from the U.S. side is: How can we work with this partner, and in this case Uzbekistan, to further our interests in terms of counter-terrorism, counter-trafficking efforts, looking at regional challenges that exist, which unfortunately in this part of the world, there are a few that effect not just us, but the countries in this region? How can we build capacity? How can we build ... I use the term interoperability, but the opportunity for us to work with them in a collaborative manner? How can we better equip that, if that's necessary? And it may not be the most expensive, biggest, brightest items. It's what's important and sufficient for the task at hand.

And so, that sort of security cooperation takes time. What I find, and I say this as a civilian watching this, I find that militaries across borders they understand each other. There is a common language, and there is an understanding of how the U.S. has capabilities. How do you assess operations and tactics? American military officers and personal and their Uzbek counterparts, and their other central Asian counterparts, I think get this, and which is why it's an area of cooperation that's continued over time.

Navbahor Imamova, VOA Uzbek: You don't have much disagreement.

Roger Kangas, NESA, NDU: Not much. I mean, the challenge is, though ... Alright, that on occasion that we find ... We may find slightly different approaches to a region. We may want them to focus more on engagement with Afghanistan. They may realize that they also have to work with other partners that aren't quite on the same page as the U.S. Of course, they could get the other larger powers in the region.

Navbahor Imamova, VOA Uzbek: And when we say military cooperation, we always mean border security and measures against narcotrafficking, right?

Roger Kangas, NESA, NDU: Yeah, exactly, I mean even though, technically these might be different ministries, you know Ministry of Interior, custom services, border services. The concept of security is pretty broad here.

Navbahor Imamova, VOA Uzbek: So, over the years, you have trained Uzbek military. You have studied the Uzbek military capability. How strong is Uzbekistan in this sphere?

Roger Kangas, NESA, NDU: I should say the capabilities are, from an outside observer, the capabilities are actually better than what people might imagine. Let's recall that this a military that had to start from scratch. With the breakup of the Soviet Union, the various republics, now states, had their own militaries to develop...

Navbahor Imamova, VOA Uzbek: And that's the biggest military in the region.

Roger Kangas, NESA, NDU: Yeah, they were fortunate to have the number, the headquarter capacity, capabilities within Tashkent and other parts of Uzbekistan, but in terms of equipment, in terms of sustaining their fighting force, there were some serious challenges early on, and of course, it made sense to work with countries like Russia, and some of the immediate neighbors.

But over time, as the Uzbek military leadership has had to look at how to professionalize. They've reached out to different areas, and in some capacities, they've done quite well. I would say, overall, they've been less ... There have been actually less areas, fewer areas of cooperation between Uzbeks the U.S. on certain exercises or certain areas of development, but we've seen over the last few years, and I would actually say more like six or seven years, this has ramped up again. We're seeing opportunities for this kind of cooperation, and professionalization and it is step by step as we see a new generation of officers and personalities put militaries step into place. Their capabilities are increasing. I should also add that the U.S. state of Mississippi is the National Guard partner for Uzbekistan and they've done a fantastic job of working with and helping to train Uzbek military.

And so, we see these areas of development. I mean, fortunately they haven't been tested to the fullest, and actually I think most militaries have to be.

Navbahor Imamova, VOA Uzbek: They're very discreet, and they prefer to be very discreet. For example, this partnership with the state of Mississippi, they very rarely mention it, and it's been quite a productive relationship so far. So, as far Uzbekistan is concerned, why do they want military assistance? What are their interests?

Roger Kangas, NESA, NDU: Well, it's, again I would look at it as geography clearly plays a big role.

Navbahor Imamova, VOA Uzbek: But, Afghanistan is not the biggest factor for Uzbeks, right?

Roger Kangas, NESA, NDU: Yeah, it's sometime perceived to be, at least in my opinion, that it's the potential threats coming across the border. You're right. The good news is Afghanistan is a country that the challenges exist all within its boundaries. We don't see as much of a spill over, and sometimes you read in the literature, and in some of the reports that, "Oh, there's a concern in spillover..." It's something to be mindful of, but you're right. It hasn't materialized as much, but the notion of trying national extremist groups, terrorist groups, this is a concern, and that requires a different kind of military security force. The notion of Uzbekistan being invaded by another state is less of a concern, because, again, their relations with their neighbors are quite frankly much better, and that really wasn't a concern, even in the past.

So, they can focus on, perhaps, more non-traditional threats, but I would say that those are the concerns if we think in terms of traditional hard security concerns for the country.

Navbahor Imamova, VOA Uzbek: How many Uzbek officers have been trained by the United States so far? You would be the right person to ask this question. Roughly, you can give an estimate. Would you say thousands?

Roger Kangas, NESA, NDU: No, I think that we are still in the realm of high hundreds, but in terms of multiple programs, say seven hours of workshops in country, we would be getting into those higher numbers, yeah.

Navbahor Imamova, VOA Uzbek: But you also train the non-military part of the government, right? You train diplomats... intelligence officers.

Roger Kangas, NESA, NDU: As well as the researchers, and academics who periodically attend our programs. And again, most of these are sort of short, I would call it concise programs, on specific topics, and so we're fortunate to interact with a number of different ministries, and departments. And for those that network, I would say both, not just for the nearest South Asia center, but for the George C. Marshall Center in Germany, and other programs in the U.S. There have been opportunities to really work closely with Uzbeks.

Navbahor Imamova, VOA Uzbek: Afghanistan... Afghanistan seems very excited about this renewed interest in it by the governments in Central Asia, and they seem to be promising a lot. They want to help. They want to engage, and this is obviously seen by the United States and by the rest of the international community as a really positive sign. To what extent can they deliver these promises to Afghanistan? Of course, the U.S. assistance is very important here.

Roger Kangas, NESA, NDU: It's interesting, and I hate to say frustrating, but every year we say: "This is a critical year for Afghanistan." And I think we've been saying this now for several years.

Navbahor Imamova, VOA Uzbek: Since 2001.

Roger Kangas, NESA, NDU: Yes. And, so if I start by saying, 'This is a critical year for Afghanistan,' it sounds like repeating the same refrain.

The current, it's not just the current US strategy of South Asia, and particularly the focus on Afghanistan, but increasingly, something that we see coming out of Kabul itself. Success for Afghanistan requires regional cooperation. It's going to require the engagement of the neighboring states.

This is not a new idea. It is something that has been around for quite a while. They are concerned. Their challenges, and I would say from Kabul, is there might be neighbors that have different interests in their country. Do they even like to see instability? Or at least, not a strong Afghanistan?

Fortunately, the Central Asian states have never been questioned. There has never been a concern out of Kabul of the Central Asian states; Uzbekistan has a malign interest in our country, it has always been viewed in a positive way. Often though, in a limited way. The understanding that you have countries that have their own concerns. Their own interests. Integrating in different ways. Engaging in different ways.

The focus southward has been minimal. This has been changing. I agree with you that over time, we have seen over the last couple of years, the focus on Afghanistan has increased. The Tashkent summits, or the meetings that have taken place. Potential peace processes. Opportunities to be a forum for discussion. This has all come up. I would say, as an American, I applaud this. Because the more opportunities that exist, the more venues that are there, the more chances for opposing sides to talk to each other, the better.

Now how do you move from having these conversations to actually doing something? That's a big challenge. Unfortunately, that's an internal Afghan challenge. I think we've seen in other long term conflict situation, and we can think whether it's Northern Ireland and the UK or Sri Lanka, or the still ongoing issues between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, you can have venues all over the world. Until people on the ground actually want them to happen, we're going to keep having a next set of meetings, and a next one.

So, I applaud the opportunity and I applaud the interest. Let's see if the Afghans themselves, and of course, it's not just the Afghan government but the opposition, if they can come to some terms. I would say as an interesting thing here, is for the Central Asian States, again, as someone who has looked at this region for a while, I have usually seen it as the Amu Darya is a pretty wide river.

Navbahor Imamova, VOA Uzbek: Right.

Roger Kangas, NESA, NDU: The Central Asians look northward and eastward and westward, but not as much south. And the Afghans, citizens of Afghanistan can look east and west and south, but not as much north. The north/south connection, I actually do see increasing.

If you want to say, their version of a 'C5 + 1', right? Of the Central Asian states plus Afghanistan or C5 + Afghanistan, is in my opinion, a very positive step. Not just a symbolic one, but if you can start to see connections. Of course you know historically, culturally, linguistically, these connections do exist. But if you can start to see greater cooperation north/south, all the better. Because this is going to be part of the economic development. The energy development. The infrastructure development that's needed in Afghanistan.

Realistically, if I were to say ten years from now we can have this conversation again. I hope that at that point, we really see true cooperation engagement. But it is a long term process.

Right now the steps are being put into place, but it's going to take a while to actually make them happen.

Navbahor Imamova, VOA Uzbek: And, as you said, Afghans have to help themselves.

Roger Kangas, NESA, NDU: Yup.

Navbahor Imamova, VOA Uzbek: Before they aspire to be helped.

Roger Kangas, NESA, NDU: Exactly.

Navbahor Imamova, VOA Uzbek: By the neighbors.

Roger Kangas, NESA, NDU: Yeah. And I think it's critical for the legitimacy of the process. As the US, NATO, other international actors have been engaged for the longest time, and I think with all the good intentions, perhaps we have not seen quite the success because there have been differences on the ground. Things maybe haven't worked out the way we'd like because different agendas, different priorities and capacities. Of course, a lot of our expectations maybe early on, were too high.

Navbahor Imamova, VOA Uzbek: Mm-hmm.

Roger Kangas, NESA, NDU: Too immediate.

Navbahor Imamova, VOA Uzbek: Mm-hmm.

Roger Kangas, NESA, NDU: We like to have things done yesterday and we are in a region that it takes time.

Navbahor Imamova, VOA Uzbek: It takes time, yeah. I mean, it takes a lot of time in Washington too.

Roger Kangas, NESA, NDU: Yeah. Well, on other things, it definitely takes a lot of time.

Navbahor Imamova, VOA Uzbek: Yeah. And we hear that NATO is actually reviewing...

Roger Kangas, NESA, NDU: Mm-hmm.

Navbahor Imamova, VOA Uzbek: It's reviewing it's strategy towards the region.

Roger Kangas, NESA, NDU: Mm-hmm.

Navbahor Imamova, VOA Uzbek: Because about a couple of years ago they kind of stopped their activities in the region.

Roger Kangas, NESA, NDU: Yep.

Navbahor Imamova, VOA Uzbek: They nearly closed their office in Uzbekistan.

Roger Kangas, NESA, NDU: Mm-hmm.

Navbahor Imamova, VOA Uzbek: So, with the new leadership in Uzbekistan, everybody seems to be renewing their approach to the country. So, you saw President Mirziyoyev.

Roger Kangas, NESA, NDU: Yep.

Navbahor Imamova, VOA Uzbek: When he was here last month. You listened to him from up close.

Roger Kangas, NESA, NDU: Mm-hmm.

Navbahor Imamova, VOA Uzbek: What did you think of him? How did he do in Washington?

Roger Kangas, NESA, NDU: I thought he did well. This was a visit that wasn't, it didn't have the lead planning time that most people would assume for a presidential visit. When the decision was made to come to Washington to when it actually happened, was a fairly short time.

And with that time, it seemed like every minute, every second was used. High level meetings, other public events, and really a chance to engage. I think from his point of view if he wanted to come here and make a statement that he is interested in working with the US and is interested in a range of issues that Americans are interested in, great success.

From the American side, I would say and whether it's political actors or perhaps some of the business community, their reactions have been quite positive. It's 'Oh, maybe there's more opportunities again. Maybe we can revisit these engagements.' You know? Person to person opportunities.

So you see fairly, what I would call, a low cost high yield visit. His mission, I would say, was a success. Now, again, the question as we said before, is can they follow up? Can the good words that were said be followed up with actions? I think that's what we are now going to have to look at.

So I am hoping, as I watch this and as others watch it, that we start to see specific steps being made. Whether it's commercial opportunities are made available or at least the chances are there for American companies or other companies to engage with Uzbekistan, that we start to see more university students going back and forth between the countries. As they used to be. As one myself, I would love to see these opportunities re-emerge.

Just the communications. The higher level visits back and forth. And we are seeing this. I think you are going to see more American political actors interested in going to Uzbekistan. Where, perhaps as you know, some years back we would go sometimes between visits.

Navbahor Imamova, VOA Uzbek: Right. Yeah, on your way to or from Afghanistan.

Roger Kangas, NESA, NDU: Exactly.

Navbahor Imamova, VOA Uzbek: A nice stop... In Samarkand or in Bukhara.

Roger Kangas, NESA, NDU: Yes. And actually, that's a good point because hopefully this also means we are looking at Uzbekistan for Uzbekistan. I would say, being a little self critical, is we've often looked at Uzbekistan and the other neighbors with respect to something else.

Navbahor Imamova, VOA Uzbek: Yeah.

Roger Kangas, NESA, NDU: With respect to our engagement with Russia.

Navbahor Imamova, VOA Uzbek: Yeah.

Roger Kangas, NESA, NDU: Or Afghanistan.

Navbahor Imamova, VOA Uzbek: Yeah.

Roger Kangas, NESA, NDU: Those are factors to look at, but it would be nice to see the country and see opportunities both ways. Simply as relationships between two countries.

Navbahor Imamova, VOA Uzbek: You know, every time Central Asia is referred as bridge, the governments just hate that.

Roger Kangas, NESA, NDU: They don't like being a bridge.

Navbahor Imamova, VOA Uzbek: They don't want to be a bridge.

Roger Kangas, NESA, NDU: Yeah.

Navbahor Imamova, VOA Uzbek: They want the region to be the region, as it is.

Roger Kangas, NESA, NDU: Yeah.

Navbahor Imamova, VOA Uzbek: Wow. We could continue this conversation.

Roger Kangas, NESA, NDU: Absolutely.

Navbahor Imamova, VOA Uzbek: For a long time... But, thank you so much for being here. For talking to us, for sharing your insights.

Roger Kangas, NESA, NDU: Yeah. You're welcome. That was an absolute pleasure. Thank you.

Navbahor Imamova, VOA Uzbek: Thank you... And thank you for watching us. I am Navbahor Imamova in Washington.

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    Navbahor Imamova

    Navbahor Imamova "Amerika Manzaralari" turkumidagi ilk teledasturlar muallifi. TV, radio va onlayn diktor, prodyuser, muxbir va muharrir. "Amerika Ovozi"da 2002-yildan beri ishlaydi. Jurnalistik faoliyatini 1996-yilda O'zbekiston radiosining "Xalqaro hayot" redaksiyasida boshlagan. Jahon Tillar Universiteti Xalqaro jurnalistika fakultetida dars bergan. Ommaviy axborot vositalari bo'yicha bakalavrlikni Hindistonning Maysur Universitetidan (University of Mysore), magistrlikni esa AQShning Bol Davlat Universitetidan (Ball State University) olgan. Shuningdek, Garvard Universitetidan (Harvard University) davlat boshqaruvi va liderlik bo'yicha magistrlik diplomiga ega. Toshkent viloyati Bo'stonliq tumani Qo'shqo'rg'on qishlog'ida ziyoli oilasida ulg'aygan.

    Navbahor Imamova is a prominent Uzbek journalist at the Voice of America and a leading Washington-based authority on geopolitics and national development in Central Asia. As anchor, reporter, multimedia editor and producer, she has covered Central Asia and the U.S. for over 15 years on TV, radio and online. During 2016-2017, she was a prestigious Edward S. Mason Fellow in public policy and management, while earning her Mid-Career Masters in Public Administration at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. Imamova played a pivotal role in the launch of Uzbek television programming at VOA in 2003, and has since presented nearly 800 editions of the flagship weekly show, “Amerika Manzaralari,” which covers American foreign policy focusing on Washington’s relations with Central Asia, as well as life and politics in the U.S. She is frequently asked to speak on regional issues in Central Asia, as well as Uzbek politics and society, for policy, academic, and popular audiences, including the U.S. Foreign Service Institute, Princeton University, Columbia University, Johns Hopkins University, Georgetown University, George Washington University, Michigan State University, the University of Wisconsin, Northeastern University, and her alma mater Harvard University. Her essays on the region have been published in journals and edited volumes, including Central Eurasian Studies Review and Demokratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization.

    She began her career at the Uzbek state broadcaster. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and mass communication from Maharaja’s College at the University of Mysore, India and a Master of Arts in journalism from Ball State University.

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