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Middle East and Central Asia ; prospect of long-term political stability

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Abstract

Throughout history, the Middle East has been a zone of conflict. In the early 20th century, the area assumed significant strategic importance because of its oil reserves. In the late 20th century, the Caspian Sea basin acquired similar strategic importance. The collapse of the Soviet Union altered geo-political relations in the area. Oil Rivalries shaped post-communist relationships between the neibouring states. The area, however, lacks common norm of cooperation, contains numerous local rivalries, interests and threat perceptions. A part of Islamic world, Central Asia came under Soviet dominion in 1917. Soviet-style secularism was imposed, languages were reformed, social life was interrupted and natural resources were used for the benefit of the party and the state. The Central Asian states face common security complex. They are affected by Afghanistan’s problems. Security in terms of religious tendencies and radicalism is a pressing issue. The war in Iraq is a clear example that a quick military victory followed by proposed reconstruction projects will not necessarily result in political stability. Policy makers have failed to produce a solution for promoting long-term stability. It appears that local security depends on security throughout the entire Middle East. Should local security strategies be abandoned in favour of a comprehensive regional security approach for the entire area ? How should the new security arrangements be implemented ? Can security concerns be addressed through democratisation of the ruling systems ? Will government legitimacy resolve the problem ? The paper will fundamentally address political stability with the aim of identifying the role of radical Islam in the region''s societies and ways and methods of containing it to maintain order. Historical ties need to be examined together with an assessment of the future energy security concerns and social progress made through democratisation.