Embattled authoritarians: continuity and collapse in Central and Southwest Asia

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Why are some authoritarian leaders able to stave off violent challengers to their rule while others falter? This article analyzes several case studies involving a series of nondemocratic governments and violent non-state actors waging war and posits that different combinations of variables lead to dissimilar outcomes (ranging from “civil war/insurgency”, “regime implosion” or “foreign-based overthrow”, “negotiated peace”, to “strategic advance and retreat”). Accordingly, “embattled authoritarians” require a high level of “political-military aid” over time from a supportive foreign power to effectively combat “violent non-state challengers”. However, it is difficult for such governments to completely escape from “embattled” status, particularly if a supportive foreign power does not exert influence to set parameters for peace between the warring parties and the level of international interference (i.e. political-military aid abetting violent non-state challengers courtesy of other foreign powers) does not recede over time. This article concludes with a forecast on Afghanistan and Tajikistan’s respective futures and discusses how the onset of political instability within the former may serve to destabilize the political situation in the latter.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)363-378
Number of pages16
JournalAsian Security
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety Research
  • Political Science and International Relations

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