The "Great Game" in the 19th century was the battle between Russia and Britain for influence in Central Asia and for control of the land-routes to India, the "Jewel in the Crown". "The Great Game, Mark II", just beginning, is the struggle between Islamic fundamentalism and the West (characterized respectively by Iran and Turkey) for dominance in the six newly-independent Central Muslim republics of Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kirghizia and Kazakhstan. (Of these, Kazakhstan - nearly as large as India - possesses hundreds of strategic and tactical nuclear weapons. The Muslim fundamentalists' recent electoral success in Algeria (subsequently suppressed) raises the prospect of fundamentalism holding sway from the Atlas Mountains to Indonesia. It is vital to understand the context in which the Ankara-Tehran contest to shape the future of Central Asia - a region of immense strategic significance - is developing as a proxy struggle between the West and militant Islam. Dilip Hiro has travelled to the new Muslim states (as well as Turkey and Iran) and interviewed politicians, religious leaders and writers of all descriptions. His book of analysis and reportage is a contribution to understanding one of the central political issues in the post-communist world.
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