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The West Asian states of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Iran have over the last few decades represented an arc of crisis. Characterised by fractured and dysfunctional political elites, fraught economic policies, and ideological struggles between the forces of authoritarianism and democratisation, neo-fundamentalism and pluralism, they embody a mosaic of ethnicities. Amin Saikal, a distinguished Afghan-born scholar of international affairs, provides a sweeping new understanding of the complex contemporary political and social instability encompassing the region. Critically comparing democratisation and counter-insurgency efforts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, and examining both recent Western intervention and the history of foreign influence in the region, Saikal looks at how US entanglement has affected Pakistani and Iranian domestic politics and foreign affairs. How has this influenced the success or failure of the occupation in Afghanistan and Iraq? What solutions can be taken to ensure regional security? An informed and balanced overview on a troubled region, this book will fascinate general readers and prove essential reading for specialists.