As part of a wide-ranging clampdown in the aftermath of the failed July coup, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s administration has urged countries in Eurasia to shut down schools associated with the Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen. But outside of Azerbaijan, the call does not seem to be swaying Eurasian governments.
There is an old Ukrainian saying – if you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one. This adage can apply to politics, and it has particular relevancy these days for Mikheil Saakashvili, the erstwhile president of Georgia who managed to morph into the governor of the Ukrainian region of Odessa.
Just a few months ago, authorities in Azerbaijan spent tens of millions of dollars on hosting a Grand Prix auto race, which critics derided as a vanity project that satisfied the leadership’s craving for international attention, but did not produce any tangible benefits for the general population.
Following days of uncertainty surrounding the fate of the septuagenarian strongman who ruled Uzbekistan for more than a quarter of a century, the suspense is over: Islam Karimov is dead. Uzbekistan’s government confirmed his death on September 2 after he suffered a stroke in late August.
What was supposed to be a gala celebration of Uzbekistan’s 25th anniversary of independence ended up being a crisis-management exercise. Yet the Uzbek leadership’s awkward efforts to project an air of continuity only seems to have heightened the sense of intrigue and mystery gripping the capital Tashkent.
While attention in Central Asia in late August was fixated on the looming leadership transition in Uzbekistan, another event with even greater potential to reshape the region occurred in Kyrgyzstan: an apparent suicide bomber attacked the Chinese embassy in Bishkek, killing himself and wounding at least three others.