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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

America's New War: Phrase and Geography Lesson on The "Stans"

Aired October 1, 2001 - 06:17   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: Well most Americans are not familiar with a number of central Asian countries that could play a key role in any strike by the U.S. military in the future.

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: That's right. CNN's Kyra Phillips is in this morning. She's got a fascinating background check for us on these unfamiliar places.

Good morning, Kyra.

LIN: Hi, Kyra.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, you guys, good to see you.

Well, it's a new phrase and a geography lesson for many of us, The "Stans." They're the five -- the five Asian republics -- central Asian republics that split from the former Soviet Union and that was about 10 years ago and those countries may play a crucial role as staging grounds for any U.S. action aimed at Afghanistan's Taliban rulers or Osama bin Laden suspected camps.

The relatively new countries are virtually unheard of in the West, so here's a primer on three of them. The three Stan Nations which share a border with Afghanistan and are now considering whether they may be staging grounds for air or ground troop operations.

Turkmenistan's 4.5 million people live in a country just a bit larger than California. They share a 462 mile border with Afghanistan. And the Turkmen people are 89 percent Muslim in a country that's the world's fifth largest natural gas producer. Turkmenistan's president has said he would consider sharing the country's ground and air space but his nation would remain officially neutral.

Now Uzbekistan is easily the most populous of the Stans with 25 million people, mostly Sunni Muslim like the people of Afghanistan. The country is also just a bit larger in size than the state of California. The biggest factor in Uzbekistan's economy is cotton. It's the third largest cotton producer behind China and the U.S. And their border with Afghanistan is only 85 miles long but some key military bases there could come into play. Uzbekistan's president has denied some news reports that at least one U.S. cargo plane has already landed there and said they've not yet made any commitments to joint military effort.

And Tajikistan, considered to have the highest poverty level among the former Soviet states, it has a 749 mile border with Afghanistan and its population of 6.5 million is about 80 percent Sunni Muslim. Tajiki president says they're prepared to work with the U.S. but no specifics are set just yet.

Leon, back to you.

HARRIS: All right, thank you, Kyra.

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