Season 1 Episode 14: Deconstructing Islamic State’s Appeal in Central Asia
The conflicts in Syria and Iraq drew between 12,000 and 15,000 fighters from Central Asia. Noah Tucker, expert on Central Asian issues and our guest on War & Peace this week, helps us understand why.
No overwhelming single factor accounts for such a huge number of people going to fight with the Islamic State. “For every 10 people who join, there are 10 different life stories, and often 10 different reasons”, Noah explains.
But the deep inequalities found in Central Asian countries can help explain. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Central Asia underwent rapid modernisation and radical economic changes. While not unique to the region, the additional challenge of constructing a political system from scratch produced clear winners and losers while whole sections of society were left behind with no mechanism for changing the balance. The Islamic State offered a different path to addressing these injustices, an alternative theory on how to construct a government and distribute resources more fairly.
Noah, Olga and Hugh go on to examine the gendered element, the role of ethno-nationalism as state ideology and much more on this week’s episode. Tune in now!