This book analyzes policies of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan toward Afghanistan in a comparative perspective. The research proceeds from an empirical observation that, despite sharing a number of similarities, the two states have different degrees of engagement with their common neighbor. While Tajikistan has close and multifaceted relations with Afghanistan, Uzbekistan maintains a very limited and highly controlled interaction with it. Hence, the thesis deals with the explanation of the differences in outcomes between similar cases. Based on an eclectic theoretical framework, it identifies and analyzes four factors: “Ideational structure”, “Political Islam”, “Ethnicity” and “External actors”. The analysis demonstrates that, in each case, these factors have different empirical manifestations that are linked with differences in outcomes.
In particular, the thesis highlights that Tajikistan’s “ethno-cultural propensity”, together with its pressing economic imperatives, and Uzbekistan’s fidelity to “independence”, coupled with its state-centered and security-dominated posture, are critical in explaining and understanding their varying, but consistent policies towards Afghanistan. These insights also illuminate the basic characteristics of the two states’ foreign policies, in general.