chapter  12
18 Pages

Islamic radicalism and the insecurity dilemma in Central Asia: The role of Russia

Ever since the Central Asian republics gained independence from Moscow in 1991, they have sought to consolidate their independence, diversify their foreign policy and develop a pragmatic and non-exclusive set of relations with postSoviet Russia. However, a critical element in the continued salience of RussianCentral Asian relations has been the ‘Islamic factor’. From the emergence of informal Islamic groupings such as Adolat and Islom Lashkarlari in Namangan and Marghilan (Uzbekistan) in the winters of 1991 and 1992 to the suicide bombings of Andijan in May 2009, the region has been exposed to occasional episodes of terrorism. Such occurrences have prompted the local elites of Central Asia to seek external security guarantees, primarily but not exclusively from Russia, and provided external powers with a justifi cation to assert their infl uence and presence in the region. Cooperation has been predicated on a converging security discourse, whereby failing to counter the threat posed by Islamic militants would allegedly jeopardize not only the security of individual Central Asian states but also broader post-Soviet and international security.