Recently in Caucasus & Central Asia Category

Is Fighting in Afghanistan, Pakistan Spilling Into Tajikistan?

Abdujalil Abdurasulov, a contributor to The Christian Science Monitor, reported July 30, 2009, that “A spate of militant clashes in Tajikistan may indicate that the conflicts in Afghanistan and Pakistan are spilling beyond their borders – a top concern for neighboring Central Asian nations and Russia.” See “Afghan, Pakistani conflicts spilling into Central Asian states?

“The rise in violence comes as Pakistan wraps up an assault on militants in the north and Western forces intensify a campaign against insurgents in Afghanistan ahead of an Aug. 20 election,” he wrote in a dispatch datelined Dushanbe, Tajikistan. “The offensives may be pushing foreigners fighting in either country to flee the conflict and return home.”

If you want to read a good book on Islam and Central Asia, see Ahmed Rashid’s informative “Jihad: The Rise of Militant Islam in Central Asia.

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Iran to Host Conference on Central Asia and Caucasus

"Iran is to host the fifteenth international conference on Central Asia and Caucasus on Oct. 29-30, [2007] Deputy Foreign Minister for Educational and Research Affairs Manuchehr Mohammadi said here [in Tehran, Iran] on Saturday [October 27, 2007]," according to the Tehran Times'  political desk.

According to The Times, "The meeting is to study the influence of NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] on Eurasian region for the first time, he added."

If you want to learn more about the meeting, see "Iran to host conference on Central Asia, Caucasus." 

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Why Azerbaijan Opened Academy To Train New Diplomats

On July 11, 2007, the New York Times Co.-owned International Herald Tribune (IHT) reported that the "small Caspian nation" of Azerbaijan, "hoping to drum up business for its non oil sector, and to improve its image, ... has more than doubled its diplomatic presence abroad since 2004, opening 32 new embassies in the last three years in capitals from Athens to Tokyo." See "Azerbaijan creates diplomatic academy."

"But now the country faces another problem," IHT reported, " not enough diplomats to staff the missions."

image According to reporter Daria Vaisman, this "is why, after 13 years as Azerbaijan's ambassador to the United States, Hafiz Pashayev has found himself with an unexpected second career: running the state-run" Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy, the " country's first academy for aspiring diplomats."

The academy "opened in March [2007] with the goal of training its recruits in a Western-style diplomacy new to this country," according to IHT. "The idea is to quickly staff Azerbaijan's empty embassies, fast-tracking aspiring diplomats who would normally work their way up as Foreign Ministry staffers."

IHT said Azerbaijan is preparing "for an oil windfall expected to top $230 billion over the next 20 years."

And that spells incredible wealth and potential trouble in the rough and tumble world of oil economics. In this game, skilled diplomats are essential. Hopefully, Azerbaijan's diplomats will take an ethics course along the way. If so, hopefully, they won't succumb to bribes from hucksters seeking oil contracts. As for Azerbaijan's politicians, look for some to become millionaires and billionaires.

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India To Establish Military Base In Tajikistan

Bangalore, India-based freelance journalist Sudha Ramachandran, writing in the August 12, 2006 Asia Times Online, said "Tajik President Emomali Rakhmonov's five-day visit to India that ended on Thursday [August 10, 2006] might not have grabbed much media attention in New Delhi, but it is in Tajikistan that India is taking quiet strides toward furthering its ambition of becoming a global player: India's first military base abroad will become operational in Tajikistan soon."
 
To read why India is projecting itself abroad militarily, see "India's foray into Central Asia."
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Relatives Demand to See Officials Who Handled Beslan Crisis

On May 17, 2005, parents and relatives of the 330 people killed on September 3, 2004 in the Beslan school hostage crisis in Beslan, North Ossetia stated at the trial of Nur-Pashi Kulayev, the only surviving hostage taker, that "they wanted to see officials who allowed the group of 32 rebels to reach the school face justice, not just Kulayev, who could be sentenced to life in jail if convicted," reports The Scotman's Mike Eckel from Vladikazkav. Here's more.

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Beslan Relatives Call for 'Real Justice' in School Siege Case

Nur-Pashi Kulayev, "the only Chechen militant to have survived the Beslan school siege in September last year has gone on trial amid calls from bereaved relatives that he be handed over to face 'real justice,'" reports Andrew Osborn, a Moscow correspondent for The Independent of London. Here's more.

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