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A Rock Between Hard PlacesAfghanistan as an Arena of Regional Insecurity$
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Kristian Berg Harpviken and Shahrbanou Tadjbakhsh

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190627232

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190627232.001.0001

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Central Asia and Afghanistan

Central Asia and Afghanistan

(p.57) 3 Central Asia and Afghanistan
A Rock Between Hard Places

Kristian Berg Harpviken

Shahrbanou Tadjbakhsh

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the Central Asia Security Complex, and the involvement of its five states – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan – in Afghanistan. Rivalry between strong and weaker Central Asian states, fear of loss of sovereignty, and the need to balance the interests of global powers undermine regional integration. These factors also preclude a unified regional position towards Afghanistan, and – despite the ambitious “Heart of Asia” designs pursued by the US and its allies in the wake of the 2001 intervention – effectively limit their engagement there. While the five Central Asian states share concern about threats to their regime stability and national security, such as terrorism, extremism and criminality, they prefer bilateral over multilateral approaches to cooperation. The asymmetric rivalry of the five Central Asian countries, with their need to balance the interests of external actors, has resulted in a strategy of insulation towards Afghanistan. Afghanistan represents both a threat and an opportunity. While the potential spillover of instability is a concern for CA states, this is peripheral to, and not at the core of, the dynamic of the Central Asian Regional Security Complex.

Keywords:   Central Asia, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Regional Security, Regional Cooperation, Heart of Asia

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