17 december 2017
Central Asia news
There are numerous reports from the northern provinces of Afghanistan about the arrival of well-equipped militants, who do not hide their belonging to the IS terrorist group (the banned terrorist organisation "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant", ISIL, ISIS or IS Eng., "Daesh" Arab.) The Fergana News correspondent talked with residents, authorities, and learned the details of what is happening in the provinces of Balkh, Jowzjan and Faryab.
Contradictions among various political groups in the northern Afghan province of Balkh have been exacerbating. These developments are happening against the backdrop of rumours about the possible return of the vice-president of Afghanistan, the leader of ethnic Uzbeks, General Abdul Rashid Dostum, to the country, and unofficial reports about the resignation of the governor of Balkh, the influential politician, ethnic Tajik, Atta Mohammad Noor.
It is difficult to catch up with Nargis Abdullaeva—she has a lot of work and trips to make around the country. Abdullaeva is a theatre and film actress, an acting teacher and director living in Russia. A few years ago she was the leading actress at the famous Tashkent theatre “Ilkhom.” As a girl, Abdullaeva was forced to radically change her life and come to Moscow, where she faced all sorts of problems faced by migrants, but she achieved her goal and returned to the acting profession. How did all of this happen to her? Read the next report published under a joint project of Fergana News and Deutsche Welle entitled, "Migrant in Russia. Habitat.” The report is dedicated to immigrants from Central Asia, who live and work in Russia.
In the northern provinces of Afghanistan—Sar-e Pul and Balkh—the positions of the militants of the so-called "Islamic State" are visibly strengthened. Muhammad Zahir Wahdat, the governor of the Sar-e Pul province, told a Fergana News correspondent that Daesh is trying to expand its presence in all districts of the province. The governor also asserted that there are districts in which the administration is the official power during the daytime, but nightfall brings the authority of Daesh. According to the official, local ethnic Turkmen and Uzbeks are now actively replenishing the ranks of the group. Active recruitment is being carried out, mainly in the districts of Kush Tapa and Sayad. According to the governor, the province administration has repeatedly informed NATO in northern Afghanistan and the central government of the country, but the centre does not provide sufficient assistance.
On the eve of the centenary of the October Revolution, the Central Asian Analytical Network (CAAN) is returning to the question surrounding the administrative and territorial demarcation of Central Asia. In a conversation with the political scientist Raffael Sattarov, well-known Russian historian, ethnologist and anthropologist, Sergei Abashin, will shed light on some dark corners of the region’s Soviet period and reflect upon current questions that define the relationship between Russia and the Central Asian countries, most prominently nationalism, labour migration and post-Soviet integration.
Over the past year, as the "Islamic State" has ceded its positions in Syria and Iraq, the architects of the world caliphate are said to be stepping up their activity in Afghanistan. In summer, the U.S. military reported it had liquidated three ISIL field commands in that country, and later the Russian Foreign Ministry announced that somebody had been transferring Islamic militants to Afghanistan using light helicopters without identification marks. At the same time, the decreasing defensive capability of the neighbouring Turkmenistan, which began, according to various sources, in the first half of 2010 could lead to the gradual penetration of the terrorist organisation into the territory of this post-Soviet republic. And Ashgabat's close and friendly relations with Afghan authorities could only simplify and speed up this process.
Emotions, tirades, passion, sharp gestures, stomping, hot fever! I would add “flamenco”, but it is not Catalonia striving for independence from Madrid. Another week rich with symbolic events in Central Asia is over, yet the picture remains obscure. The leadership of this region is reluctant to express its real emotions and feelings, but decisions show who they truly are, paraphrasing a popular fiction writer.
Central Asia is surely East - culturally or geographically. But, how much politically? Legally speaking countries of the regions are not khanates or empires, but republics established by the Soviets. And, yes, being a part of communist Russia they used to be "East Europe". Newly sovereign leaders declared their adherence to international obligations, while despotism is still a dominating option of state ruling in the region. Probably, it is their totalitarian communist heritage that resists learning new tricks.
The 19th Central Asia media conference named “Open Journalism in Central Asia” organised by the office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media will be held in Tashkent on 18-19 October 2017. It is expected that participants, “including journalists, representatives from governments, civil society organisations and academia from Central Asia and Mongolia along with international experts will discuss current challenges to media freedom in Central Asia and Mongolia” including “current trends in news media distribution and challenges related to the digital and increasingly mobile environment, and how to better safeguard media freedom whilst combatting hate speech,” as well as “the latest media freedom developments and best practices,” the OSCE website informs.
This month of June brought us a contradictory timeline. Some governments are gaining a popular weight among ordinary citizens, while others are ignoring a wider opinion and a common sense. Any outsider can be lured by honeyed promises, finely drawn charts, glittering buildings from the future. Find optimists and ruin them with a reality.
This May brought remarkable events, which will develop during summer vacations and will define how autumn will develop further. Surely, these are activities around presidential elections in Kyrgyzstan clearing and modifying political and media space for the pro-presidential candidate, or Uzbekistan summing its attempts to revive the economy through investment and improving its foreign image. How would Kazakhstan reconsider its economic policy and change its attitude towards rule of law to outrun its main economic rival - Uzbekistan? Whether xenophobia in Russia will die out. How Tajikistan and Turkmenistan will cope with doubts of its public about anti-corruption campaigns in both countries? These questions were raised in May and I will outline them for you.
The recent terror act in the St. Petersburg metro on 3 April, in the organisation of which Russian special services suspect people from Central Asia, exacerbated issues related to migration processes from the countries of this region to Russia. Last week in Moscow, the Sakharov Center jointly with the Yegor Gaidar Foundation organised a discussion during which experts discussed whether there is any ground to say that it is among the migrants that recruitment of terrorists takes place, and if so, what causes migrants to join the ranks of radical Islamists, what role is played by large-scale corruption, typical of most Central Asian countries, and whether it is possible to oppose it.
The anti-government forces took control of the Qalay-I-Zal district of the Afghan province of Kunduz, located on the border with Tajikistan, world media reported on 7 May. Heavy battles that began shortly after the Taliban had announced the ‘spring offensive’ are going on in the Zebak district, as well as in the vicinity of the city of Kunduz, which may soon again be in the hands of the armed opposition. As we have already reported, a state of emergency had been declared in the Ishkashim district of the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast of the Republic of Tajikistan bordering with fighting scenes across the Panj River. Local residents are alarmed and frightened by the fact that Afghan militants have come close to the Tajik border. Moreover, it is not entirely clear who they are and what their goals are. According to the ‘Fergana’ source in one of the international organisations, among the militants fighting ‘beyond the river’ are also refugees from Tajikistan, who moved there because of persecution by the authorities. A number is known too: they can make from 200 up to 250 people.
Problems with the conservation of saiga (or saiga antelope - the saiga antelope) in Uzbekistan have increased, while attention from the state has decreased. About this tells an open letter from the public representatives of the country to the chairman of the State Committee for Nature Protection (‘Goskompriroda’, since 21 April 2017 - State Committee for Ecology and Environmental Protection) sent on 11 April 2017. There is no answer yet.
Gulyam and Sardor Umarov, natives of Uzbekistan, children of the formerly well-known opposition figure Sanjar Umarov, are currently engaged in large-scale technological projects in the U.S., while not forgetting their roots and developing business which is relevant with the interests of their homeland.