This week's guest editors

Kyrgyzstan, violence vs justice

The chaotic scenes at the trial of a man charged over inter-ethnic violence in Kyrgyzstan are damaging the legal process, reports Mihra Rittmann.

Decision time for Central Asia: Russia or China?

Vladimir Putin’s attempts to draw the countries of central Asia into his fledgling Eurasian Union creates a dilemma for some of them: if they take up his offer, they might lose their valuable trading links with China. Li Lifan and Raffaello Pantucci discuss their options.

Kyrgyz migrant workers: does national pride mean violence against women?

Videos recently widely circulating on social networks in both Russia and the Central Asian republic of Kyrgyzstan show Kyrgyz men working in Russia brutally attacking their female compatriots for the ‘crime’ of associating with men of other nationalities. Gulzat Botoeva looks at how these scenes reflect not only problems of national identity but wider issues around migrant labour in Russia

The quest for home

Inter-communal conflict in Kyrgyzstan flared up in 2010. Since then ethnic Uzbeks, the largest racial minority, have been on the move. Sometimes they travel to Russia; sometimes back again. It's always difficult to know where to call home, says Abdujalil Abdurasulov.

Kashgar's old city: the endgame

China's plan to transform the heart of Uyghur culture, learning and urban settlement - Kashgar old city - is well underway. The fact that the Uyghurs themselves have no voice in this process gives the experience a wider significance, says Henryk Szadziewski.

National memory in Kyrgyzstan: attitudes to the Soviet past

New nation states frequently need to create a ‘national myth’ to justify their new status, and Kyrgyzstan is no exception. Since its emergence as an independent republic in 1991, historians have been drawing on Chinese and Russian historical sources in an attempt to trace Kyrgyz history back to ancient times. But, inevitably, the most controversial — and contradictory — part of their stories relate to the recent Soviet past, says Damira Umetbaeva.

Central Asia: succession planning in dictatorships

Kyrgyzstan aside, recent elections in Central Asia would appear to indicate that the regions’ leaders are aiming to stay in power for life. But what will happen to their regimes when infirmity strikes, wonders Luca Anceschi?

 

Elections in Kyrgyzstan and the threat of inter-ethnic violence

Tensions in Kyrgyzstan are often reduced to a division between the north and south of the country, and it is widely feared that the upcoming presidential elections will trigger violent conflict. But are the causes of disagreement so simple, asks Elmira Satybaldieva, and is it necessarily true that violence will follow?

Grey zones and first families: the reality of everyday violence in Central Asia

Central Asia has gained a reputation for sporadic outbreaks of ethnic unrest and Islamist insurgency. But the popular depiction of the stans underestimates the most significant sort of violence – the struggle of much of its population to make ends meet under regimes that pride themselves on control, self-glorification and the latent threat of chaos.

Presidential elections in Kyrgyzstan: end of a parliamentary experiment?

The first round of Kyrgyzstan’s presidential elections will take place on 30 October, with the likely victor and the future of the political system far from certain. Asel Doolotkeldieva profiles the contenders, and wonders if the country can manage electoral conflict without it spilling over into political violence.

The Uyghurs, China and central Asia

The growing bonds between central Asian states and China have a human-rights cost for Uyghurs across the region, says Henryk Szadziewski.

Osh: one year on

Before the interethnic violence of last June, Osh was a remarkable meeting point of Uzbek and Kyrgyz cultures. That Osh is no longer, but shared history provides the best hope for a peaceful future, writes Nick Megoran

Osh report: quick conclusions, lost opportunities

Poorly researched, political and overly assertive, the official report into last year’s violence in Osh and Jalalabat leaves as many questions as it answers. The national discussion to follow must avoid similar pitfalls.

UN departure from Nepal sparks fears of security vacuum

After four years, the UN peace mission in Nepal will leave the country with an uncertain political and security future. Kyrgyz national commission blames Uzbeks for last year’s deadly ethnic violence. Sudan may be removed from the US state terror sponsor list by summer, officials say. All this and more in today’s security briefing.

4-Star Wars: flashpoint in Kyrgyzstan

Supplying fuel to the American government to keep military planes running into Afghanistan is a lucrative business. Involving as it does politics and politicians in desperately poor Kyrgyzstan, it is also a highly controversial one. Nick Kochan writes on the fuel contracts that have come to be viewed as issues of sovereignty for the new Kyrgyz government

Elections in Kyrgyzstan: a step towards democracy?

Will Kyrgyzstan’s progress towards democracy, initiated after the April Revolution, be undermined by victory of the non-democratic parties at the recent parliamentary elections? Or might possibly these parties surprise everyone and accept the changes? Asel Doolotkeldieva weighs up the probable outcomes.

The road to electoral perfection in Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan’s October parliamentary elections revealed a number of teething problems in law and systems, write Alexey Semyonov, Baktybek Abdrisaev and Kuban Taabaldiev. The Kyrgyz electoral bodies would be well minded to adopt an holistic approach to solving them — from the introduction of technological solutions such as e-voting, to involving key stakeholders in the counting process.

Letter bombing campaign uncovered in Greece

Multiple bombs destined for top-level targets discovered in Greece. Iran chides Russia over decision not to honour arms deal. Months after Kyrgyzstan violence, tensions and resentment still running high. All this and more in today's security briefing.

Kyrgyzstan: reform starts with education

Kyrgyzstan could be the first Central Asian parliamentary democracy. But the southern region has first to be reconciled and stabilized. The way forward is to use the well established Kyrgyz traditions of education to teach acceptance of ethnic diversity in schools and universities, explain Scott Horton and Baktybek Abdrisaev.

Kyrgyz elections: the birth of democracy?

Recent parliamentary elections in Kyrgyzstan were declared free and fair, but Russia and its Central Asian neighbours feel threatened by Kyrgyz democracy. Will the country be able to juggle its relations with them and with China and USA? Baktybek Abdrisaev wonders if President Bakiyev’s dark legacy can be overcome.

Critical AfPak border crossing reopens to Nato convoys

Pakistan reopens critical border crossing to Nato convoys. Heir-apparent and new missiles appear at North Korean military parade. Kyrgyz voters avoid violence in parliamentary election. Budget woes constrain UN war crimes tribunals. All this and more in today’s security briefing.

The background to Osh: stories of conflict and coexistence

Reporting of the ethnic clashes that took place in the Kyrgyz city of Osh this summer has tended to spotlight the victimhood of either ethnic Kyrgyz or ethnic Uzbeks. This polarisation is but a reflection of competing historical narratives of Osh’s ethnic identity, writes Dr Nick Megoran.

Wanted: Economic Equality to Mend Kyrgyzstan

Media reports of disturbances in Kyrgyzstan’s two main cities Bishkek and Osh focused on human rights and ethnicity. However, Balihar Sanghera suggests that the root cause lies in economic inequality.

Beware of meddling in Kyrgyzstan!

Despite deep fissures in Kyrgyz society in the aftermath of the upheavals, external intervention would be counterproductive, advises John Heathershaw. Instead, foreign governments should concentrate their efforts on reducing the stakes of the conflict.

Al-Shabab renew offensive in Mogadishu

More attacks in Mogadishu, as Al-Shabab steps up its campaign against African Union troops. Convicted Islamists escape prison as fears of militant action in Central Asia increase. Russian security forces kill top Causcaus Emirate leader. Report calls for further US-Russian nuclear disarmament. All this and more in today’s security briefing.
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