In This Review

Central Asia Meets the Middle East
Central Asia Meets the Middle East
Edited by David Menashri
Frank Cass, 1998, 240 pp

The idea of a greater Middle East, including Central Asia, is in fashion. That the several states of Central Asia will figure much more in Middle Eastern diplomacy following the breakup of the Soviet Union seems a safe assertion, but the findings of this book sharply scale back earlier, headier notions of radical change. It contends that Russia will continue to be a dominant player in Central Asia, and that early Turkish and Iranian aspirations are now much more modest following later setbacks. It also argues that the prospects for significant Middle Eastern-Central Asian economic integration are limited in that neither region has as much of the capital, technology, or markets needed by the other as do outsiders. Finally, it claims that prospects for a greater regional reorientation -- linguistic, ethnic, or religious -- fade before the reality of existing states, however shaky in some cases, engaged in complex balance-of-power diplomacy.