Weekly Roundup

by Nathan Hamm on 7/13/2004

No earth-shattering stories this week. But then again, it’s so damned hot across so much of Central Asia right now that no one can really get out and make any news.

I’m still looking for info on Kyrgyzstan’s communications system (Jodi… I’m looking at you…). And, does anyone remember the Mongolian ninjas? Well, yes, they did get their names from the turtles says a new commenter.

On to the news…

Afghanistan

Caucasus

  • The big story in the Caucasus this week was in the Georgia-South Ossetia conflict. Check out the Caucasus Archives for the week’s news.
  • Armenia’s tale is a sad one that seems to keep getting sadder as it suffers a population exodus. Many are leaving the country to work overseas, and some estimate that one-third or more of the population has left since the Soviet Union’s collapse.
  • Speaking of Armenia, my stop for all things Armenia has a number of great posts, including one on a program called Birthright Armenia. In its first summer, the program brings young diasporans to Armenia to see the “homeland” and perform community service.
  • Azerbaijan’s campaign against its opposition has spread to the Juma Mosque in Baku, leading to conflicts with and raids by Azeri police. Imam Ilgar Ibrahimoglu has a large following, is religiously moderate, and is involved with both the opposition and human rights causes.
  • EurasiaNet looks at Russia’s Caucasus policy–one it is increasingly determined to get right as it becomes clearer that it is losing out to the West for influence.

Turkestan

  • An Arabic teacher connected to some of those implicated in this spring’s Tashkent bombings has mysteriously disappeared. Three other Arabic teachers have also disappeared since April as well.
  • VOA reports on the state of religious persecution in Uzbekistan.
  • Turkmenistan has shut down Russia’s Mayak radio, cutting off an outside source of information and leaving even fewer Russian-language media available.
  • Kazakstan’s space program moves a little closer to reality. It will include a more environmentally friendly launching pad and the launch of the country’s first satellite.
  • Kyrgyz journalists feel that new measures designed by the government to protect them from libel lawsuits won’t work. (Hat Tip: Jodi)
  • There are disturbing reports out of Kyrgyzstan involving planned attacks by the IMU and arrests of government officials accused of spying for Islamist groups.
  • James Giffen, on trial for paying $78 million in bribes to Kazakstan’s president and prime minister, has gained access to classified documents for his defense to prove that he was working on behalf of the United States.
  • I’ve long claimed that people in the Former Soviet Union aren’t as truly poor as they officially appear to be. If that’s confusing, well, it’s because the economies are. VOA explains how, in the Uzbek economy, barbers earn more than doctors. No discussion of all the other “off-the-books” income lubricating the economy.
  • Uighurs returned to China by the Central Asian states to which they flee face persecution.
  • Though there are a number of reasons to take this with a grain of salt, Turkmen officials operate a drug ring that imports drugs into Russia disguised as diplomatic cargo.
  • Contributor Laurence Jarvik has a review of Robert Rosenberg’s This is Not Civilization, some of which is set in Kyrgyzstan, where Rosenberg served as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

Mongolia

  • China’s role in Mongolia is increasing leaps and bounds with a number of developing economic and cultural ties.
  • UK diplomats convinced all five permanent security council members to hold joint peacekeeping exercises in Mongolia with Mongolian troops. Russian troops mysteriously didn’t show after their own border guards turned them away. What you won’t find in the story is that Mongolia’s “proactive neutrality” is largely the creation of and fostered by the United States.
  • The New York Times reports on how Mongolia’s opposition has turned the tables on the MPRP, which is up to its own tricks.
  • As for the state of the election, Mongolia still doesn’t know who will rule the country as details are still being decided in court.

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This post was written by...

– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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