After 2014:  What Next For Central and South Asia?

For the past 12-plus years, Central and South Asia have been buffeted by the war in Afghanistan. The five Central Asian states, many challenged by Islamist radicalism, terrorism, clan politics, corruption, and potential political fragmentation, have supported the US/NATO presence to varying degrees. Russia, while decrying the long-term US presence, has nonetheless supported the NATO effort. And China has invested heavily in the Central Asian states, while also criticizing the war in Afghanistan.  Pakistan, and to a lesser extent India, have affected and been affected by the on-going war. Thus, as the 2014 deadline for the withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan approaches, the regional states question what comes next. In Afghanistan, will the Taliban return to power? Will there be a period of prolonged instability and civil war? How will processes in Afghanistan affect the other regional players? How will the forces unleashed by the withdrawal interact with indigenous forces in each of the states? What role will the outside powers play after the withdrawal? Will the states be able to cooperate to counteract any spillover from Afghanistan? The seminar series, sponsored by MIT’s Security Studies Program, will focus on the complex geopolitics of this region as the US and NATO withdraw their troops. All sessions are open to the public.

DATE: Oct. 3, 2013, 4-6 PM
LOCATION: E53-482, Millikan Room (Political Science Department)
“Fatally Flawed? Deconstructing US Policy-Making in Afghanistan”
Matthew Waldman
, Belfer Center, Harvard University

DATE: Nov. 19, 2013, 4-6 PM
LOCATION: E40-496, Lucian Pye Conference Room
“The Future of Russo-Chinese Competition in Central Asia”
Stephen Blank
, Senior Fellow, the American Foreign Policy Council

DATE: February 18, 2014, 4-6PM
LOCATION: E40-496, Lucian Pye Conference Room
“The Impact of U.S. Drawdown on India-Pakistan Relations”
Vipin Narang, MIT Security Studies Program
Synopsis: How will the American drawdown in Afghanistan affect regional powers such as Pakistan and India? Narang argues that the vacuum left by the United States will intensify the security competition between Indian and Pakistan, with significant consequences for regional security.
MIT News article: "After the US leaves Afghanistan, then what?"

DATE: March 6, 2014, 4-6pm
LOCATION: E40-496, Lucian Pye Conference Room
“Prospects for Political (In)Stability in Central Asia”
Pauline Jones Luong, University of Michigan Political Science Dept.
Synopsis: Many scholars and policy-makers have understandably raised concerns about how the impending U.S. departure from Afghanistan will affect domestic stability in Central Asia. Based on recent fieldwork and an original database of local protests across the region since 2000, Jones Luong will focus instead on how prospects for political instability in Central Asia might affect the transition in Afghanistan.

DATE: April 10, 2014, 4-6pm
LOCATION: E53-482, Millikan Room (Political Science Department)
“Strength of the Weak: How Central Asian States Manipulate Great Powers Rivalry”
Bakyt Beshimov, MIT Center for International Studies
Synopsis: Beshimov will describe the intriguing relationship of the weak states of Central Asia with great powers and what goals the local ruling elites pursue and what tactics they use to manipulate the interests of the U.S., Russia, and China. The lecture will focus on how the concepts of state “weakness” and “strength” in the context of the complex geopolitical environment in Central Asia takes unexpected forms and bear new meanings.