There is a good chance that economic jockeying between China and Russia in Central Asia will intensify in the coming months. For Russia, Chinese economic expansion could put a crimp in President Vladimir Putin’s grand plan for the Eurasian Economic Union.
Leaflets placed at the 62-meter-high Kiev Bridge in the Armenian capital of Yerevan offer a simple message: “Choose life, not death.” They are also a sign that Armenia is grappling with an uncomfortable reality – a drastic rise in the suicide rate.
How many Central Asians are fighting for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and do they want to return to wage jihad upon their return home? No one knows for sure, but in recent months Russian officials and pundits have sounded the alarm.
Civil society activists in Kyrgyzstan are warily eyeing a criminal case initiated by the state security service against a local non-governmental organization in the southern capital Osh. The probe is fanning concern in the non-governmental sector that authorities are gearing up for a renewed push to pass a “foreign agents” law.
It has been a chastening few months for gas-rich Turkmenistan. Two long-standing energy buyers have indicated they will stop purchasing the country’s natural gas, potentially leaving Ashgabat dependent on Chinese demand.
A full-blown political crisis is erupting in Georgia. The tumult is raising questions about foreign and defense policies in a nation that, up until now, has ardently aspired to joint NATO and the European Union.
Azerbaijan’s efforts to use its energy wealth to win friends and influence opinion in the United States and European Union are well documented. Far less attention has been paid to Baku’s suspected efforts aimed at co-opting rights advocates inside Azerbaijan.
Fears of militant Islam are nothing new in Kyrgyzstan. Over the past decade and a half, Kyrgyz media have warned about a progression of Islamic bogeymen posing a dire threat to the region – including the Taliban, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and Hizb-ut-Tahrir. Now, there is supposedly a new threat that radiates from distant lands.
Earlier in October, Azerbaijani news media reported the death of a professional Azerbaijani wrestler, Rashad Bakhshaliyev, who was killed in Syria while fighting for the Islamic State. The news, which came as a surprise to many in Azerbaijan, underscores an emerging security threat for Azerbaijan.