Central Asian Security: The New International Context
Edited by Roy Allison and Lena Johnson
Brookings Institution Press, 2001, 279 pp.
Jihadi Groups, Nuclear Pakistan, and the New Great Game
By M. Ehsan Ahrari
Strategic Studies Institute, 2001, 45 pp.
Many Americans are still seeking to get straight the "stans" of Central Asia. The Brookings report helps to situate that region as an arena in international politics. Although it offers less focus on Central Asia and its five separate states as such -- aside from an overview of common legacies and conflicts, Islam, and water rights -- the book's major contribution is a treatment of the Central Asia policies of Russia, the United States, China, Iran, and Turkey. The conclusion wrestles with scenarios projecting how regional stability might be achieved, given these many interested parties.
Meanwhile, Ahrari provides useful sketches of the different Islamist radical groups in the region. The strength of his little book is its balanced account of all the many different state and nonstate actors, including not just the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Islamists in Pakistan, but groups to their north as well.