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‘Getting Religion’ in Central Asia (Part 2 – National Debates)

‘Getting Religion’ in Central Asia (Part 2 – National Debates)

One of the biggest questions among analysts in 1991 was whether the five republics of Central Asia, after 70 years of Communism, would re-claim their historical faith and become a region of political Islam. Almost 25 years on, secular autocrats still rule and recognize Muslim traditions but keep faith out of governance.

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Differing Views on Islam in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan (Part 1 – Big Mosques)

Differing Views on Islam in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan (Part 1 – Big Mosques)

With many eyes on the World Cup, another international contest has been brewing in Central Asia: the region’s biggest mosque.
Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, both former Soviet republics, each have under construction mega-mosques in their respective capitals, funded by foreign partners. While perhaps unsurprising in predominately Muslim countries in the fading shadow …

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U.S. Stability Operations Shouldn’t Short-change Africa

U.S. Stability Operations Shouldn’t Short-change Africa

Al-Qaeda’s incursion into Iraq’s Fallujah area last weekend illustrates the conflict as primarily a stability operations battle – a test over who can legitimately and ably govern – and not a weakness of the U.S. withdrawal or shortfall of Iraqi forces.
Predictably dozens of

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What’s in a (country’s) name? Lots—especially when disputed.

What’s in a (country’s) name? Lots—especially when disputed.

 
Before the era of nation-states, Shakespeare had it easy. While  humanists may agree labels matter little, geographers in the 21st century must keep up with country name changes, and the accompanying politics.
Readers these days come across Myanmar (Burma), or Burma (Myanmar), depending on the writer’s point of view. Burma is …

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Yes, I Speak Intervention

Yes, I Speak Intervention

With a nod to Clausewitz, sort of, the language of politics is also the language of war. Arguments promoting a certain philosophy can also justify (or condemn) military action and be another weapon on the battlefield.
And so the first shots — er, sound bites — rang out Tuesday morning in …

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Airing Out the Situation Room

Airing Out the Situation Room

Can we clear the air? Foreign policy — like domestic policy and, say, physics — has its own vocabulary that obscures meanings and is often in the eye of the beholder. As with the ultimate nebulo-phrase, “affirmative action,” language that appears neutral can either be deceptive or interpreted across a …

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If It’s Sunday, It’s…Time to Bash Russia

If It’s Sunday, It’s…Time to Bash Russia

(With apologies to “Meet the Press,” which — oddly — hardly mentioned it)
Several of last Sunday’s talk show guests pointed fingers yet again at a Russia that, in their implications, refuses to be transparent or recognize human rights.
First up, the temporary asylum in Russia granted to Edward Snowden.
On CBS’ “Face …

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Mining Continues to Polarize

Mining Continues to Polarize

As old as Cortez and colonialism, the quest to satisfy modern appetites underlines economic scarcity and, increasingly, political instability. Mining in less-mature economies runs the same risks as its fossil fuel cousins.
Over several days in late May, protestors in Kyrgyzstan cut off power to …

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In Mali, Now Comes the Hard Part

In Mali, Now Comes the Hard Part

Beginning in January, French and Malian forces took just over a month to rid Mali’s north of Islamic militants. The Tuareg-dominated MNLA however claims a remote, remaining area. With elections scheduled the end of July, most Malians are refusing to compromise
Kidal, a city in the far north-east, is the hub …

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Weighing Afghan Experience, Civil-Military Relations Debate Continues

Weighing Afghan Experience, Civil-Military Relations Debate Continues

Can military and civilians successfully collaborate in conflict zones?
This has been an open question for decades, but especially recently in Iraq and Afghanistan, where new approaches and the length of the conflicts provide a wealth of experience to examine. Current and potential insurgencies from Central Asia to Africa in …

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As NATO Draws Down, Feuding Neighbors’ Elections May Heat Up

As NATO Draws Down, Feuding Neighbors’ Elections May Heat Up

 
As NATO troops leave, Afghanistan and two of its northern neighbors will undergo national elections. Should we be worried?
While some observers expect an uptick in Afghan border infiltration after the upcoming NATO drawdown, others feel that instability in neighboring states Tajikistan and Uzbekistan have long been homegrown. These countries are …

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Instability Worries — and Policy Discussion — Move to Central Asia

Instability Worries — and Policy Discussion — Move to Central Asia

Depending on whom you listen to, Central Asia could be 1) the next mass target of Islamic insurgents; 2) on the verge of a client-state battle between Moscow and Beijing; or 3) fated to authoritarian leaders for the next generation.
Nestled between Russia and China, and bordering Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, …

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Theory and Practice, Two Sides of the COIN

Theory and Practice, Two Sides of the COIN

As values of certain ideas fluctuate with fashion and practicality, so has that of COIN, or counter-insurgency, one of the principal war-fighting approaches in recent years for U.S.-led coalitions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Such is the main argument in Fred Kaplan’s recent Foreign Affairs (Jan/Feb 2013)

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Great Decisions 2013: The Intervention Calculation

Great Decisions 2013: The Intervention Calculation

The U.S. conducted airstrikes against Serbian forces in 1994 and 1999, and against Libyan troops in 2011, to reduce threats of genocide and humanitarian disaster. But the sole superpower sat idle in 1994 while hundreds of thousands were slaughtered across Rwanda and bodies floated down river past horrified neighbors. Just …

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Tribal Drums Along the Potomac

Tribal Drums Along the Potomac

“Tribalism” as many know describes the political system in technologically primitive countries without established central government or democratic tradition. Today it also applies to the US Congress.
What is tribalism? Blind faith in a single leader or ideology. Support for a clan member in any dispute no matter how incriminating. Decision …

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About the Author

Jason Anderson
Jason Anderson

Jason recently returned from a research grant in Central Asia looking at the nature of extremist groups. He has project experience in Afghanistan, Central Asia, and the Caucasus. Jason previously served as a trainer for US military and civilians working alongside counterparts in Afghanistan, and as a coordinator with Afghan ministerial advisors on National Priority Program (NPP) funding proposals in Kabul. Jason speaks Russian and holds a Master of International Affairs from Columbia University.

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