A Kyrgyz city on the outer edge of a restive Central Asian valley has found itself at the center of a broad controversy -- the prospect that some of its residents are being recruited to join the rebellion in Syria.
Kyzyl-Kiya ("Red Rock") is located in the country's southwestern Batken Province, on the southern edge of the Ferghana Valley.
Recent media and human-rights activist reports claim that the South Caucasus countries of Georgia and Azerbaijan are playing an indirect role in supplying diesel fuel, weapons and cash to the embattled government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Government employees deny the charges to EurasiaNet.org, but key details about the alleged shipments remain unclear.
Amid ongoing opposition to the Turkish government’s cooperation with Syrian rebels, speculation is growing in Turkey that Syria may have had a hand in the February 1 suicide bombing attack at the US Embassy in Ankara.
The chances of a war erupting between Turkey and Syria appear to be rising. But the heated rhetoric of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government does not seem to be matched by public enthusiasm for conflict.
In a display of muscle-flexing, Turkish tanks this week carried out military exercises on the Syrian border, just a few kilometers away from towns that Syrian Kurds had seized from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces.
Many ethnic Armenians are disgruntled after fleeing the embattled Syrian city of Aleppo for the safety of Armenia. They say they have been left to fend for themselves in the country they view as their ethnic homeland. Armenian government officials, meanwhile, insist they are doing what they can to accommodate diaspora members.
Although Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan brought his energy minister along on a one-day visit July 18 to Moscow, it’s safe to assume that rather than oil and gas prices, the question of how to resolve the crisis in Syria dominated the discussion between Erdogan and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.
With the escalation of civil warfare in Syria, the flow of refugees heading across the border into Turkey is set to pick up. Some observers in southern Hatay Province, which is the destination for the bulk of the refugees, caution that the influx raises the specter of sectarian tension on the Turkish side of the border.