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Zone of Crisis: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and Iraq Hardcover – 30 Apr 2014

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: I.B.Tauris (30 April 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1780763190
  • ISBN-13: 978-1780763194
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 2.5 x 23.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,387,950 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


'Impressively concise [Zone of Crisis] highlights just how important deep cultural and historical knowledge is in understanding these four interdependent countries situated at the fault lines between Asia and Europe.'
Philip Flood, Sydney Morning Herald

'A useful comparative study on a region that lies clearly in the eye of the storm' --Farzana Shaikh, Times Higher Education Supplement

About the Author

Amin Saikal is Director of the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies and Professor of Political Science at the Australian National University. He has been a visiting fellow at the Universities of Princeton and Cambridge, as well as at Sussex University's Institute of Development Studies. He has also been a Rockefeller Foundation Fellow in International Relations. He is the author of a number of works on the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia, including Islam and the West: Conflict or Cooperation? (2003); The Rise and Fall of the Shah: Iran from Autocracy to Religious Rule (2009) and Modern Afghanistan: A History of Struggle and Survival (I.B.Tauris, revised 2012).

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Amin Saikal is an Afghan-born scholar of international affairs who is Director of the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies at the Australian National University. He has written a study of four West Asian countries that are adjacent to one another and rarely out of the headlines, what he calls "a volatile, uncertain and unpredictable zone, with serious implications for changing world order". He is an immensely knowledgeable observer with a balanced and insightful view of events and he writes clearly although a little academically in tone. Sadly, but perhaps unsurprisingly, he has little original to say about how to sort out the chronic messes that he describes.

Afghanistan and Pakistan are predominately Sunni states, while Iraq and Iran have a Shia majority population (the only such countries in the world except for tiny Bahrain and secular Azerbaijan). Afghanistan and Iraq have suffered recent invasions by predominately American and British military forces, while Pakistan and Iran have 'only' faced drone attacks and economic sanctions respectively. Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq have some of the veneers of a democracy, but their political institutions are massively flawed, while Iran - the most stable of the states examined - has its own version of elective power that is counterbalanced by a more powerful theocratic elite.

In his commendably short but nevertheless informative book, Saikal has four long chapters and, in the case of each nation, he sets out the complicated mosaic of ethnic groups and a brief account of the recent historical legacy, he examines the current governance and economic performance, he explores the country's position in international relationships, and finally he attempts a look at the way forward.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent baseline of current conditions, how they came about, and preconditions to move peace in the Middle East forward 3 Nov. 2014
By Jerry McFeeters - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
ZONE OF CRISIS provides a wealth of information on what is happening in the four countries listed the title including a very concise historical narrative of each.
If everybody in the world had a similar depth of knowledge and understanding of what is going on in the Middle East, the world would be a much better place. Zone of Crisis should be required reading by all persons interested in achieving World Peace.

Below are a couple of thoughts out of hundreds that passed through my mind while reading the book:

1. While reading the chapter on Iran, I was struck by the similarities between Iranian politics in the 21st century and US politics.
Both represent a struggle between conservatives and liberals, with the conservatives in both countries gaining a large following by appealing to the less educated rural dwellers. However they differ in that the conservatives in Iran also appeal to the urban poor, while in the US, the liberals appeal to the urban poor. (In Iran, conservatives would be the followers of Ahmadinejad and in the US the followers of the Republican party). In both cases, the conservative approach appeals to religious fundamentalist/gullible citizens who are easily swayed to politics that in many cases are detrimental to their personal growth and development.

(I'm basing this comparison on the explanation of US politics as discussed in American Theocracy by Kevin Phillips as compared to Iranian politics in Zone of Crisis.)

2. In the Zone of Crisis, I was surprised to learn that Iranian policies toward the US were in the process of improving until the "Axis of Evil" speech. If the general public had been aware of the subtle changes taking place in Iran prior to the speech, the actions taken by the US which followed the speech might have been different. It is unfortunate that Important knowledge such as this are lost in the silly distractions that some most people in the US call the news. Sadder still is the fact that people throughout the world are forever being mislead by political leaders who intentionally mask the truth from the very people who place them in power.

Zone of Crisis is a comprehensive, concise narrative that captures the complexities of international politics in the Middle East. It should be required reading by all persons on the planet who seek an understanding of why wars happen and why they are difficult to control.

The conclusion provides a well thought-out preconditions for success that should be considered seriously by all world leaders and individuals who are interested in moving the goal of world peace forward.
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