Central Asian Sunni Islamic Extremism and Its Links to the Gulf

In 1995, Sunni Islamic extremism – of the type usually referred to as
Wahhabism – emerged as a disruptive political force in Chechnya. The dynamics of
this are well understood. So is the fact that spillover from this conflict has touched
the Gulf region, in the form of terrorism as well as unasked-for problems in the
relations between Russia and those Gulf States from which the Islamic extremists
in Chechnya came. Yet the fact that Sunni Islamic extremism in the same way also
has emerged as a political force in Central Asia, and that the extremists there too
maintain links to the Gulf, is often forgotten.
The Gulf States will ignore these links at their peril. The phenomenon of
Islamic extremism in Central Asia, and its links with the Gulf, carries the same, very
real potential as the one in Chechnya to impact upon the security and foreign policy
relationships of the Gulf States, and not only with Central Asia but Russia, Europe,
and the rest of the world as well. If anything, the extremist links between the Gulf
and Central Asia are stronger, and go back further in time, than any links with
extremists in Chechnya. So far, the real impact has been minor, yet the potential for
further disruptions is significant.
This study aims to assess the importance of the links between the Gulf and
Central Asian extremism, as well as to evaluate the kind of impact that these links
might cause on the foreign and domestic policies of the Gulf States. …

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