Azerbaijan in late April crossed a self-imposed “red line” in its relations with southern neighbor Iran by dispatching Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov on a visit to Israel, Tehran’s arch-foe. Reasons for the timing of the move are not clear, but, so far, Tehran appears to be biding its time with a response.
Russian politicians and state-controlled media outlets have been taking lots of potshots at Tajikistan lately. Some observers believe the barrage of verbal darts may be a precursor to retaliatory measures by the Kremlin for Dushanbe’s delay in ratifying a military basing agreement.
Democratization activists in Azerbaijan are increasingly pessimistic about what they describe as the West’s lack of support for reform and the protection of basic rights in the energy-rich South Caucasus country.
A fascination with grandiose graves, built to show respect for the deceased and bestow honor on the bereaved, could mean that the Armenian capital of Yerevan, a city of over 1.1 million people, soon will run out of space to bury its dearly departed.
News that the suspected perpetrators of the April 15 Boston marathon bombings have links to Kazakhstan – albeit extremely tenuous ones – has brought unwanted attention to this oil-rich Central Asian state neighboring Kyrgyzstan, where the two suspects have family roots.
Last autumn, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Kyrgyz counterpart Almazbek Atambayev tried to clarify the Kremlin’s energy ambitions in Central Asia: Putin promised massive Russian investment in the impoverished country’s hydropower sector in return for an Atambayev pledge to enhance economic and security cooperation.
Azamatjon Ermakov used to have a relatively peaceful life ferrying traders and their goods around on his donkey cart in a village in Uzbekistan’s Andijan province. He had embraced Islam in 1995 and became a regular at the local mosque.
The concept of term limits seems like a contradiction in terms when it comes to Tajikistan. The Central Asian state’s constitution specifies that the president can serve only two consecutive terms. Yet the incumbent, Imomali Rahmon, has been in office since 1994, and is widely expected to secure another seven-year term when a presidential vote is held in November.
The recent conviction of Turkish virtuoso pianist Fazil Say on charges of blasphemy is sending a troubling message to secular Turks that the Turkish government values religious expression only if it conforms to authorities’ views on religion.
Last Monday I was on Boylston Street, having just completed my first Boston Marathon, when the bombs detonated. As is so often the case in the digital age, I may have been just a couple of hundred yards from the epicenter, but in the immediate aftermath, people watching on television and following via social media knew far more than I about the unfolding horror.