Events Calendar

Webs of Corruption: Trafficking and Terrorism in Central Asia @ Voesar Conference Room, Suite 412
Nov 15 @ 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM

With Authors, Mariya Y. Omelicheva and Lawrence P. Markowitz

Counterterrorism experts and policy makers have warned of the peril posed by the links between violent extremism and organized crime, especially the relationship between drug trafficking and terrorism funding. Yet Central Asia, the site of extensive opium trafficking, sees low levels of terrorist violence. Webs of Corruption is an innovative study demonstrating that terrorist and criminal activity intersect more narrowly than is widely believed—and that the state plays the pivotal role in shaping those interconnections.

Mariya Y. Omelicheva and Lawrence P. Markowitz analyze the linkages between the drug trade and terrorism financing in Central Asia, finding that state security services shape the nexus of trafficking and terrorism. While organized crime and terrorism do intersect in parts of the region, profit-driven criminal organizations and politically motivated violent groups come together based on the nature of state involvement. Governments in high-trafficking regions are drawn into illicit economies and forge relationships with a range of nonstate violent actors, such as insurgents, erstwhile regime opponents, and transnational groups. Omelicheva and Markowitz contend that these relationships can mitigate terrorism—by redirecting these actors toward other forms of violence. Offering a groundbreaking combination of quantitative, qualitative, and geographic information systems methods to map trafficking/terrorism connections on the ground, Webs of Corruption provides a meticulously researched, counterintuitive perspective on a potent regional security problem.
Dr. Mariya Y. Omelicheva is a Professor of Strategy at National War College. She holds PhD (2007) in Political Science from Purdue University and JD in International Law (2000) from Moscow National Law Academy. Dr. Omelicheva’s research and teaching interests include international and Eurasian security, counterterrorism and human rights, democracy promotion in the post-Soviet territory, Russia’s foreign and security policy, and terrorism/crime nexus in Eurasia. She has published on these subjects in Terrorism and Political Violence, Europe-Asia Studies, International Journal of Human Rights, Central Asia Survey, Cambridge Review of International Relations, and other journals. She is the author of Counterterrorism Policies in Central Asia (Routledge 2011), which received an Outstanding Academic Title award by Choice, Democracy in Central Asia: Competing Perspectives and Alternate Strategies (University Press of Kentucky 2015), and Webs of Corruption: Trafficking and Terrorism in Central Asia(Columbia University Press, 2019, with Lawrence Markowitz), and editor of Nationalism and Identity Construction in Central Asia: Dimensions, Dynamics, and Directions (Lexington 2015).
Lawrence P. Markowitz is Professor of Political Science at Rowan University and Visiting Associate Professor of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. He specializes in comparative politics with research and teaching interests in state building, authoritarianism, and political violence in post-Soviet Eurasia. In addition to a number of articles and book chapters, Markowitz is the author of two books: State Erosion: Unlootable Resources and Unruly Elites in Central Asia (Cornell University Press, 2013) and (with Mariya Y. Omelicheva) Webs of Corruption: Trafficking and Terrorism in Central Asia (Columbia University Press, 2019).

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The Central Asia-Azerbaijan Fellowship Program’s Seminar: Youth as a Factor of Social Change in Central Asia @ Voesar Conference Room, Suite 412
Nov 19 @ 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM
The Central Asia-Azerbaijan Fellowship Program's Seminar: Youth as a Factor of Social Change in Central Asia @ Voesar Conference Room, Suite 412

The Central Asia Program is proud to announce our CAAFP 2019 Fellows’ Final Research Presentation. Join us for a half-day seminar featuring our scholars from Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan presenting their research on social and political changes brought by youth in Central Asia. The seminar will be followed by a reception.


4:00-5:00 PM

“Choosing Your Battles: Different Languages of Kazakhstani Activism,” by Nafissa Insebayeva, Japanese Government Scholarship (MEXT) PhD Candidate at the University of Tsukuba, Japan.
“Unveiling Girls’ Madrasah in Kyrgyzstan: The Drivers to Study in Religious Schools” by Aichurek Kurmanbekova, Independent Researcher in Kyrgyzstan.

5:00-6:00 PM

“Digital Generation and Startups in Tajikistan,” by Ilhom Aliev, former Executive Director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Tajikistan.
“Tajik Youth Lead Social Change,” by Lola Ulugova, Independent Art Curator and Art Activist in Tajikistan.

6:00-7:00 PM – Reception

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11/21/2019: The Social Organization of the Unspoken: “Informal Organizations in Tajik/Afghan Badakhshan” @ Lindner Commons, Room 602 Elliott School of International Affairs
Nov 21 @ 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM

In cooperation with the Sigur Center for Asian Studies, The Central Asia Progam would like to invite you to attend this book launch event in celebration of Informal Organizations in Tajik/Afghan Badakhshan by Suzanne Levi-Sanchez, Ph.D. This book explores the relationship of informal organizations to the state, civil society, and kinship networks. The fieldwork spanned six years on and off along both sides of the Tajik/Afghan border in Badakhshan doing ethnographic fieldwork, interviewing informal leaders, state officials, civil society leaders, and activists as well as doing focus group discussions. While in both Tajik and Afghan Badakhshan there are various civil society organizations and at the same time, strong kinship networks, there is also this layer in-between – the informal organizations. The context in which the informal organizations interact with the state and/or kinship ties changes their role and influence. Through detailed case studies, this research examines how informal organizations operate. Specifically, the book describes how they intersect with kinship networks and the state, and/or provide a buffer from state control as well as how they mediate between civil society and the state and familial networks, and how they differ depending on the context in which they are embedded.

The event is free and open to the public. Chatham House rules apply; not for public attribution. Lunch will be provided.

Suzanne Levi-Sanchez, Ph.D. is the Assistant Professor for National Security Affairs at U.S. Naval War College. She is an experienced educator, field researcher, and analyst with subject matter expertise in Iran, Afghanistan, Central Asia, political identity, informal institutions, local leadership, borders, ethnographic methods, and gender. Her background includes intensive research on Iranian culture and politics as well as six years on and off on the border of Tajikistan and Afghanistan studying how local leaders and organizations impact border and state stability as well as drug, human, weapons, and gemstone trafficking.

Deepa Ollapally (moderator) is directing a major research project on power and identity and the worldviews of rising and aspiring powers in Asia and Eurasia. Her research focuses on domestic foreign policy debates in India and its implications for regional security and global leadership of the U.S.

Dr. Ollapally has received major grants from the Carnegie Corporation, MacArthur Foundation, Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Asia Foundation for projects related to India and Asia.

She is a frequent commentator in the media, including appearances on CNN, BBC, CBS, Reuters TV, and the Diane Rehm Show.

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Conflict, Survival and the Ethics of Violence: Personal Narratives of the Wars in Syria and Afghanistan @ Room 505
Dec 3 @ 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM
Conflict, Survival and the Ethics of Violence: Personal Narratives of the Wars in Syria and Afghanistan @ Room 505
with Noah Tucker
This talk will offer results from a new fieldwork project interviewing both current and demobilized Central Asian participants in the ongoing conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. The dataset, collected in partnership with Sirojiddin Tolibov with support from DAI and GW’s Central Asia Program, provides a unique window into the recruiting process and decisions surrounding the ethics and morality of the use of violence through interviews primarily with interlocutors who have demobilized voluntarily and sought asylum or refugee status in in Turkey rather than returning home.
Noah Tucker is research associate at George Washington University’s Elliot School of International Affairs Central Asia Program. He was previously Executive Editor for RFE/RL’s Uzbek Service and the Not in Our Name film and television series, the first region-wide project designed to counter violent extremism in Central Asia. Noah has worked on collaborative projects to identify the way social and religious groups affect political and security outcomes and headed a team that tracks social media use by Uzbek violent extremist organizations and their effect on the Uzbek language internet and the way culture shapes the conflict in Afghanistan. Recent publications include “Terrorism without a God: Reconsidering Radicalization and Counter-Radicalization Models in Central Asia” (GWU Central Asia Program September 2019). Noah has worked on Central Asian issues since 2002—specializing in religion, national identity, ethnic conflict and social media—and received an MA from Harvard in Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies in 2008. He has spent around six years living and working in in the region, primarily in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan and speaks Russian and Uzbek.

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Soft Infrastructure Development in Central Asia 2020 @ State Room, 7th Floor
Dec 6 @ 12:00 PM – 2:00 PM
Soft Infrastructure Development in Central Asia 2020 @ State Room, 7th Floor

Effective Infrastructure Development Through Legislation, Regulation, Policies, Governance, and Public Private Frameworks

The resource-rich and geographically strategic region of Central Asia is continuing to evolve. Once isolated and impoverished, the Central Asian republics have broken free from their Soviet legacies to pursue new economic development strategies. Growing populations, rising energy demand, rapid urbanization, and increasing productivity necessitate the build-out of “hard infrastructure”: transportation, telecommunications, and energy networks. Policymakers in Central Asia therefore need to prioritize the “soft infrastructure,” policies, governance, taxes, laws and regulations, to support the construction of these critical projects.


Marlene Laruelle, Director, Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies; Director, Central Asia Program GWU Elliott School; Co-Director, PONARS-Eurasia; Research Professor of International Affairs
Daniel Witt, President, International Tax and Investment Center (ITIC)
Dr. Ariel Cohen (author), Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council; Director, ITIC Energy Growth and Security Program
James Grant (author), Program Manager, ITIC Energy Growth and Security Program; Junior Fellow for Energy Security, American Foreign Policy Council (AFPC)
Ambassador Robert Cekuta (ret.), former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Energy Resources, US Department of State; U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan 2015 – 2018


Photo Credit: Kazakhstan Embassy in KL