Policy Memos

A Dangerous Balancing Act: Karimov, Putin, and the Taliban

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Less than six months ago, several related events in Afghanistan suggested anything but an impending peace agreement among hostile neighbors in this war-torn region. Tensions among the relevant actors in the spring and early summer were clearly growing rather than dissipating. In April, the Afghanistan-based Taliban's activities in Central Asia (including drug trafficking and support for radical Islamic groups) were considered a significant enough threat that four Central Asian states (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan) signed a collective security agreement, which pledged to expand cooperation between their respective security agencies and to engage in joint military action if any one country was attacked. In June, some of the Taliban's harshest critics to date--including Russia, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan as well as the US--shared in a literal "chorus of condemnation" against its alleged attempts to export Islamic extremism into the Central Asian region and its support for international terrorists (such as Osama bin Laden). In July, renewed clashes between Taliban forces and the last vestige of domestic opposition (Ahmad Shah Massoud's Northern Alliance) resulted in the country's fiercest and bloodiest battles this year. [...]

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About the author

Professor of Political Science, Director, Islamic Studies Program
University of Michigan