At first glance, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and Central Asia appear to be remarkably similar. Both have recently experienced colonial rule; MENA under the Ottoman, French, and British empires, and Central Asia under the Soviets. As a result of these occupations, both regions have endured conflict and post-colonial authoritarian rule. In MENA and Central Asia, most citizens also share the same faith, Islam.
A closer look at both regions reveals significant differences, however. While popular protest spread across the Middle East in 2011, Central Asian regimes remained resilient. Although Islam has played a prominent role in Middle Eastern politics, in Central Asia, secular elites have maintained a tight grip on religion, and have generally outlawed faith-based parties. While the Middle East has been ravaged by war, post-Soviet Central Asia has remained relatively stable (with the exception of Tajikistan.)
Together, Muftah and Perspectives on Central Asia have collected a range of articles that delve into the similarities and differences between these two parts of the globe. In this joint special collection, authors use history to explain the differing trajectories of each region, explore similarities in land reform programs, compare the authoritarian tendencies of Kazakhstan and Turkey’s presidents, and examine the political aspects of urban development in Astana, Kazakhstan and Doha, Qatar.
We look forward to continuing the conversation and exploring the relationship between the regions covered by Muftah and Perspectives on Central Asia.