On the Steppes: Central Asia

The Fall 2016 issue of the Harvard International Review, On the Steppes: Central Asia, has hit newsstands! Check out the latest print edition as well as some exclusive online content.

Central Asia has historically occupied a key position in global geopolitics. Located at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, it has been the site of Alexander the Great’s military campaigns, the Silk Road, and “The Great Game” between the UK and Russia. The modern-day Central Asian republics, which broke free from the Soviet Union in the late 1990s, continue to grapple with a diverse array of problems, from weak democratic institutions to continued third-party military involvement in the area. Central Asia is also the site of a brewing environmental crisis, as climate change and a wasteful agricultural industry threaten its water supply.

This edition of the Harvard International Review parses through the various problems plaguing the region. Alisher Ilkhamov, from the University of London, writes about how the lack of regional coordination has exacerbated the water crisis. Staff writer Steven Menelly explores Central Asia’s geopolitical importance in the 21st century and the potential costs of foreign intervention in the region. Agustín Rodríguez reports on Uzbekistan’s political future after the death of autocrat Islam Karimov. Finally, Yusuf Jailani discusses the implications of low hydrocarbon prices for political stability in Kazakhstan.

This issue also travels outside of Central Asia to tackle additional problems. Michael McFaul, the former US Ambassador to Russia, and Lukasz Kulesa, research director at the European Leadership Network, both scrutinize the relationship between the West and Russia and offer diplomatic suggestions. Additionally, in his interview, UK Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks discusses the role of religious leaders in light of increasing secularism and separation between church and state.

Central Asia is often overlooked on the world stage. However, the questions that the region faces have international implications. Trade, climate change, and the transition to democracy are not concerns exclusive to the region; Central Asia is a microcosm of the key challenges facing the world today.  

The Central Asia issue of the HIR marks an important point in the progression of the magazine’s history. The revival of a region-specific issue is an ode to our past, while the redesign of the magazine and logo represent our look to the future. These changes were started during the past year under the HIR’s previous leadership, and they will continue to be built upon in the coming year. We would like to thank our staff for their hard work, commitment, and passion for the magazine and its mission.

To steppe-ing into Central Asia,





Kevin Xie and Basia Rosenbaum



Photo courtesy of AP Images.


About Author