The underlying issues that led to violence in Kyrgyzstan four years ago remain.
Scars from the 2010 violence are still fresh in Kyrgyzstan. (Photo: Johannes Zielcke / Flickr)
Recently, Kyrgyzstan commemorated the fourth anniversary of the violence that shook its southern part back in 2010. Back then, over 100,000 Uzbeks had to leave Kyrgyzstan and seek refuge in Uzbekistan in the aftermath of the riots.
It all started as a simple brawl between groups of Kyrgyz and Uzbek youngsters in a casino in the city of Osh. Shortly thereafter, it took the form of a full-fledged ethnic violence. Many issues were highlighted by the incidents of 2010: Kyrgyzstan’s ever-subtle struggle for power and resources between the elites of Bishkek and their southern counterparts from Osh and Jalalabad, and the acute economic inequality between different communities, especially in the southern region of the country.
Reporter David Crawford exposed the Stasi’s real estate assets, pensions, and the names of its agents working undercover.
The one-time headquarters of the Stasi. (Photo: John Out and About / Flickr)
Cross-posted from JohnFeffer.com.
The great riddle of German reunification involves the two dogs that didn’t bark. The first dog was the Stasi, the East German secret service, which did so little to prevent the demonstrations of 1989 from bringing down Party chief Erich Honecker, the Berlin Wall, and then the entire Communist regime. The second dog was the East German people, who exacted so little revenge against the Stasi after the once-powerful institution was unmasked. Of course, there may well be a relationship between these two dogs. After all, dogs often bark in response to one another.
The first dog didn’t bark, it seems, because the Stasi expected some kind of deal that would have prolonged the life of the East German state with West German cash. It was not an entirely unrealistic expectation. The West German government had paid for all sorts of things in the past, including the exit of East Germans and the dismantling of the automated tripwire at the Wall.
However vindictive and mule-headed, Prime Minister Maliki doesn’t deserve all the blame for the success of ISIS in Iraq.
There’s plenty of blame to go around for ISIS’s progress in Iraq. (Photo: State Department / Flickr)
Everyone wants to blame Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for the military success of ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham) in Iraq. For instance, appearing on Fox News,
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) criticized the U.S. for arming “Islamic rebels who kill Christians” in Syria and who are now militant in Iraq and said “the person most culpable” for the crisis in Iraq is President Maliki. Paul hit back at Sean Hannity’s oversimplification of the Iraq crisis and attempts to blame President Obama and Democrats on Hannity’s radio show this week.
Were Christ and his followers early jihadists?
In the end, martyrdom on the cross was a lot more effective than martyrdom by suicide bombing. (Photo: Random House)
The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham recently announced the formation of a new caliphate — or empire, if you will — comprising the existing states in the Muslim world. Its leader, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, will act as the caliph — or emperor, if you will.I’m currently reading Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan (Random House, 2013) and it occurs to me that ISIS’ announcement is not unlike Jesus Christ proclaiming the Kingdom of God with, like al Baghdadi, himself as the king.
Where exactly do Christ and his disciples fit on the scale of religious extremism? Islam has its Sunni jihadists and, in China, militant Uighurs. Buddhism has its 969 Movement in Burma that attacks Rohingya Muslims and, in Sri Lanka, the Buddhist Power Force also targets Muslims. The United States has its Christian fundamentalists who kill abortion-killing doctors. The quantities in which each kills varies, from one at a time to hundreds and even thousands (9/11) at a time. But killing is killing.
Controlling the South China Sea enables Beijing to project power into the Indian Ocean.
China has claimed sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea. (Image: World Atlas)
Two important bodies of water have been in the news for some months now. Numerous media reports have focused on Chinese claims made on the two seas off its eastern and southeastern shores. The Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, though uninhabited (and visible to the naked eye on a special map), had been claimed by the Japanese since the late 19th century and administered by Tokyo since the early 1970s, when the U.S. gave Japan control over these islands under the Okinawa Reversion Agreement.The Chinese had made no consistent claims over these islands until 1971.This was shortly after a U.N. geological survey found oil and natural gas reserves in the East China Sea, “lying around the Senkakus and beyond.”It was at that time that Beijing protested the U.S. transfer of authority over the islands to Tokyo, claiming they belonged to China (who calls them the Diaou Islands). But the years after 1972, following President Nixon’s visit to China, saw a gradual normalization of Sino-American relations.
We may have the best chance since the end of the Cold War to achieve a less militarized economy.
Rep Keith Ellison presents amendment to Congress on peace economy transitions, June 18 2014. (Photo: C-SPAN)
Progressives certainly haven’t had a whole lot to celebrate lately — most urgently, a possible military intervention in Iraq is on the horizon — but on the defense front there’s at least something worth a sip of champagne:
Cong. Keith Ellison (D-MN), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, recently introduced an amendment to the House defense appropriations bill to take $10 million from the Pentagon’s general operating account. The $10 million would be redirected to the Pentagon’s Office of Economic Adjustment, an agency whose sole purpose is to help communities facing military base closures and Pentagon contract cancellations plan for themselves a future that is not dependent on a militarized economy.
Though the attention it has attracted is undeniable, the impact the new constitution will actually have on Tunisia remains to be seen.
The oppression under which women lived during colonial rule has, in the interim, improved only marginally because of authoritarian regimes and religious traditions. (Photo: Aslan Media / Flickr)
On August 13, 2011 , a scorching summer’s day in Tunis, mobs of the disheartened, infuriated, and passionate flooded the streets. Over a thousand women marched to convey a simple message: the time for equality had come.
The rally set into stark relief that for decades, under grueling regimes and imposing tyrannies, Tunisia has lacked a clear agenda for equality. As in other countries with tyrannical leaders, Tunisians were stripped of their rights, their voice, and any way of keeping the government accountable to citizens. Isolation within Africa further spurred Tunisians’ anger. What began as an act of protest with the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi soon turned into an intensive campaign of civil resistance, crying out for the ouster of the Tunisian dictator. Months of bitter violence and protest led to the downfall of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, on January 14, 2011, in a bloodless coup now known as the “Jasmine Revolution.” Yet even after that momentous change, much remained to be done to advance women’s and civil rights.
At times, transition seemed to mean simply the transfer of resources from one ruling elite to another.
Tibor Varady (pictured): “Communism was supposed to be something shiny and wonderful. But the magic word ‘transition’ suggested that if we had problems … we hadn’t arrived yet.” (Photo: John Feffer)
Cross-posted from JohnFeffer.com.
It has been commonplace to use the term “transition” when referring to what took place in East-Central Europe in the years immediately following 1989. The term initially had a refreshing vagueness to it. So much was up in the air. So much was changing. The fixed certainties of the past had melted away. At the same time, it was not exactly clear what the future held or, at least, when that future (of European Union membership, of a fully developed market economy, of a transparent democracy) would arrive. “Transition” offered a sense of movement forward without any fixed time frame. As an unemployed person might say that they are “between jobs,” the region as a whole was “in transition” from one state of affairs to another.
What country failed to reveal a massive amount of plutonium to the International Atomic Energy Agency?
The double standard about nuclear weapons and fuel, such as this plutonium ring, threatens the nonproliferation regime. [Photo: Flickr]
Japan Times reports that, “in what experts are terming an ‘inappropriate omission,’”*
Japan failed to include 640 kg of unused plutonium in its annual reports to the International Atomic Energy Agency in 2012 and 2013.
In its defense, an official at the Japan Atomic Energy Commission said
The stock is part of [technical stuff you don’t need to stumble over — RW] fuel stored in a reactor that was offline during this period, and was thus deemed exempt from IAEA reporting requirements. [But experts] warn that Japan’s reporting does not reflect the actual state of unused plutonium that could be diverted for nuclear weapons. The unreported amount is enough to make about 80 nuclear bombs! [Emphasis, as well as bang — ! — added.]
The march of the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham is marked by both savagery and the provision of social services.
If ISIS moderates its brutality, maybe it should be given a shot at running Iraq. (Photo of power plant in Bayji: Wikimedia Commons)
At the Washington Post Monkey Cage, Andrew Shaver and Gabriel Tenorio report that a “lack of basic services, including electricity, fuel and water … may have laid conditions suitable for ISIS’ spread.” In order to “assess how the provision of social services during the Iraq war affected insurgent violence,” they examined “the relationship between available electricity and insurgent attacks on coalition forces.” They found “strong if preliminary evidence that increased electricity supply worked to reduce insurgent violence during the conflict.”