Central Asia

Commentary: Pakistan’s Baluchistan Issue

May 10, 2012 by

Earlier this year, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) introduced legislation in the U.S. House of Representative recognizing Baluchistan’s right to self-determination. The bill’s co-sponsors where, Reps. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) and Steve King (R-IA). The legislation said in part, the Baluch’s “have the right to self-determination and to their own sovereign country; and they should be afforded the opportunity to choose their own status.”

Osama’s Bins Laden with Juicy Correspondence

May 8, 2012 by

A year after Osama bin Laden met up with the pointy end of Seal Team Six, it’s fascinating to hear that he was worried about the proliferation of terrorism. In a series of declassified “battlefield documents” published last week by the unambiguously named Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, we gain some insights into what the ex-Most Wanted Man was pondering as he paced around his Abottabad compound. The 17 documents represent a fraction of the intelligence haul that was gathered from the Pakistani hide-out following the raid.

Nomads and Networks: The Ancient Art and Culture of Kazakhstan

May 7, 2012 by

If you fly nonstop from New York to Tokyo, you fly over the Arctic Circle. The view from the plane at -59 degrees is raw and beautiful - huge moving masses of white and gray clouds, water, ice and snow. It is hard to believe that there is or was human habitation in this area. And yet the steppes of Kazakhstan – the, taigas, rock-canyons, hills, deltas, mountains, snow-capped mountains, and deserts – lie not so very far beneath. It is a vast wild landscape.

Iran: Why This Time Is Different

May 3, 2012 by

The latest P5+1 talks in Istanbul rejuvenated the diplomatic track between Iran and the West, paving the way for a new chapter in Iranian nuclear negotiations. Yet if the recently concluded talks were a test of intentions, the upcoming negotiations in Baghdad are going to be a real test of wills. Both sides will have to overcome huge obstacles if they want to establish a “sustained process of serious dialogue” to resolve the Iranian nuclear impasse.

A New Great Game in Asia-Pacific

April 28, 2012 by

India tested its first inter-continental ballistic missile, named Agni-V, this month and joined the select group of nations possessing both nuclear weapons and a delivery system capable of hitting targets across continents. Only a few days before, nuclear capable North Korea had test fired a rocket, supposedly to place a satellite in the orbit, but it failed.

Politics and Islam in Central Asia and MENA

April 24, 2012 by

Following the democratization of predominantly Muslim countries in Central Asia and MENA there are many challenges still yet to be met. For the overall development of the region to progress and to assure alternatives to the autocratic governments that dominate these two regions, more will need to be done by the West and international institutions. Following the Six-Day War in 1967 there was a movement towards radical Islam. Since that time, radical politicized Islam has become an alarming trend that adversely affects the development of MENA and Central Asia, and also adversely affects its people and their economies. Anti-Western ideologies do not promote democracy and they adversely affect opportunities to provide economic growth.

Taliban Attacks Weaken U.S., NATO Position

April 18, 2012 by

Sunday’s well-orchestrated - if unsuccessful - attacks by Taliban forces on Kabul and three provincial capitals in eastern Afghanistan could further shake ebbing public confidence in the U.S. and its allies that their strategy for securing Afghanistan is working. Billed as the opening of the Taliban’s spring offensive, the attacks also raise new questions about the timing and pace of the planned U.S. withdrawal from the country, as well as the fate of a longer- term strategic agreement that is currently being negotiated between Kabul and Washington.

The U.S. & The Afghan Train Wreck

April 16, 2012 by

The recent decision by the Taliban and one of its allies to withdraw from peace talks with Washington underlines the train wreck the U.S. is headed for in Afghanistan. Indeed, for an administration touted as sophisticated and intelligent, virtually every decision the White House has made vis-à-vis Afghanistan has been a disaster.

Lessons Hidden in Afghanistan

April 10, 2012 by

What should be striking about the reported news out of Afghanistan lately is the extent to which the headlines have been about tragic, non-military events. Korans were defaced and a U.S. servicemember is suspected of murdering seventeen Afghan civilians. These acts have both had a profound, negative impact on U.S.-Afghan relations and, by extension, have put our troops and our mission in Afghanistan in greater jeopardy.

On Power and Delusions of Grandeur

March 18, 2012 by

First the video of United States Marines urinating on bodies of Afghans who had been killed. Then the revelation that copies of the Quran had been burned at Bagram Air Base, which also serves as an American prison camp in Afghanistan. Nearly thirty Afghans and several NATO troops died in the violent reaction. And as I mentioned in my column of March 4, the BBC Kabul correspondent described these events, and the violent public reaction to them, as the tipping point for NATO in the Afghan War.

More Bad News on the Afghan Front

March 13, 2012 by

While U.S. officials insisted their counterinsurgency strategy is still working, Sunday’s pre-dawn massacre by a U.S. staff sergeant of 16 people, including nine children, in their homes in Kandahar province has dealt yet another body blow to Washington’s hopes to sustain a significant military presence in Afghanistan after 2014.

Following Shooting in Afghanistan, Overall Question is Whether the Mission is Doable

March 12, 2012 by

The shooting of 16 Afghan civilians on Sunday by a U.S. soldier and the Koran burning on the Bagram air base several weeks ago have American officials questioning whether these two events will make it next to impossible for coalition forces to carry through with the mission as planned until 2014, when the U.S. is expected to leave Afghanistan.

Just Plain Stupidity Or A Failure By Design?

March 4, 2012 by

The explosion of national anger in Afghanistan after the revelation that U.S. soldiers dumped and burned copies of the Quran in an incineration pit has an uncanny familiarity with the history of previous foreign occupations of the country. Despite the ceaseless official media campaign through the decade of the U.S.-led war to convince us how well things were going for NATO, the battle for the hearts and minds in Afghanistan has not been won.

Growing Pessimism on Afghanistan After Quran Burning

February 29, 2012 by

While top officials in the Barack Obama administration insist that U.S. strategy in Afghanistan is working, the violent aftermath of last week’s apparently inadvertent burning of copies of the Quran at a military base is fuelling growing pessimism about the U.S. and NATO mission there. Some three dozen Afghans were killed in anti-U.S. protests that drew tens of thousands of people into the streets in Kabul and other cities around the country following news of the incineration at Bagram Air Base and despite a series of apologies from U.S. commanders all the way up to President Obama himself.

Bagram riots expose Afghanistan’s shifting allegiances to the masters of war

February 22, 2012 by

The only thing surprising about yesterday’s riots outside of Afghanistan’s Bagram air base is that these things don’t happen more often. What is fascinating about Afghanistan is how its infrastructural capacities – hardware, pools of unskilled labour, airports, marketplaces – add to the country’s tacit support for each new game-player on its territory: be it Britain, Soviet Russia, the US or the Taliban.

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