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Abstract: The rise of the Taleban, the self-abandonment of the Afghan
government and the effects of ISAF’s ‘capture-and-kill campaign’:
In this report Antonio Giustozzi and Christoph Reuter describe the rise of the Taleban in northern Afghanistan. They discuss their recruitment and shadow administration, the conduct of the Afghan government, the effects of ISAF’s ‘capture-and-kill campaign’ and how all of this together contributes to a very unstable status quo.
Until recently, the belief was widespread that the Greater North was immune from Taleban infiltration. The picture changed drastically in 2008 with attacks and roadside bombs and even large-scale ambushes involving dozens of fighters in 2009, and the argument that the Taleban could only attract Pashtuns became controversial. [...]
By early 2010, the Taleban had brought the northern half of Baghlan, several districts in the south and north of Kunduz, most of northern Takhar and parts of Faryab and Jowzjan under their military control or influence. The Taleban opened their ranks for non-Pashtuns. They emphasised a religious and ideological approach rather than an ethnic one and relied heavily on the clergy, which as an institution transcends ethnic divisions.[...]
According to the authors, the above indicates that the Taleban not only want to fight the Afghan government, but want to replace it. Moving north and establishing their shadow structures strengthened the Taleban’s claims to be the legitimate government of Afghanistan, a nation-wide movement, fighting for more than just a region or a particular ethnic group (the Pashtuns). [...]
The report was produced in the course of 2010 and reflects the situation in the Greater North as of the end of autumn 2010.
Abstract: The war in Afghanistan has added considerably to the strategic significance of Central Asia due to its proximity to the conflict. Moreover, the continuation of the war increasingly involves the vital interests of many other actors other than the U.S. and NATO forces currently there. This monograph, taken from SSI's conference with European and Russian scholars in 2010, provides a comprehensive analysis of the means and objectives of Russia's involvement in Central Asia. It also provides Russian perspectives concerning the other actors in Central Asia and how Moscow views the policy significance of those efforts.
Abstract: The Central Asia emergency began on 10 June 2010, when violence broke out in
the city of Osh and subsequently spread to Jalalabad in southern Kyrgyzstan.
Clashes between ethnic Uzbeks and ethnic Kyrgyz left hundreds of people dead and
up to 400,000 displaced, almost 20 per cent of the population of Osh and Jalalabad.
Thousands more were affected but not displaced by the violence.
This document provides a report of a lessons-learned workshop on the UNHCR
emergency operation in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan between June and November
2010. The workshop was held in Istanbul, Turkey, on 6-7 December 2010, and
convened by UNHCR’s Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific (RBAP) and
Regional Office for Central Asia (ROCA).
Abstract: This report collects statistics from a variety of sources on casualties sustained during Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), which began on October 7, 2001, and is ongoing. OEF actions take place primarily in Afghanistan; however, OEF casualties also includes American casualties in Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Guantanamo Bay (Cuba), Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Jordan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, the Philippines, Seychelles, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkey, and Yemen. Casualty data of U.S. military forces are compiled by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), as tallied from the agency's press releases. Also included are statistics on those wounded but not killed.
Because the estimates of Afghan casualties contained in this report are based on varying time periods and have been created using different methodologies, readers should exercise caution when using them and should look to them as guideposts rather than as statements of fact. This report will be updated as needed.
Abstract: Although approximately 5,000 US soldiers were transferred into Northern Afghanistan in the first half of 2010 and there have been initial military successes, the intensity of the insurgency in the Kunduz region has not diminished. Instead, there has been a continuing escalation of violence there in recent months. The unabated strength of the insurgency is based primarily on highly diversified leadership and logistical structures. The insurgency in the northeast consists of several groups, which follow different strategic objectives, but maintain close tactical cooperation. The main groups are the Afghan Taliban, the Islamic Party of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. Additional groups include the Haqqani Network and al-Qaeda. It is important to assemble precise information about the ideological and strategic characteristics of these groups as only then can effective military action be taken and only then can decisions be made about which groups must be approached as negotiation partners.
Abstract: Iran’s sustained crackdown on critical voices and China’s brutal suppression of ethnic journalism have pushed the number of journalists imprisoned worldwide to its highest level since 1996, the Committee to Protect Journalists has found. In its annual census of imprisoned journalists, CPJ identified 145 reporters, editors, and photojournalists behind bars on December 1, an increase of nine from the 2009 tally.
Iran and China, with 34 imprisoned journalists apiece, are the world’s worst jailers of the press, together constituting nearly half of the worldwide total. Eritrea, Burma, and Uzbekistan round out the five worst jailers from among the 28 nations that imprison journalists.
Abstract: This briefing paper tracks the evolution of, and trends in, U.S. military and police aid to
Central Asian countries pre- and post-9/11. In particular, it seeks to identify assistance
associated with agreements with countries in the region to provide base and transit access
to United States and allied militaries for the war in Afghanistan. While the United States
does not pay “rent” for military bases, this report includes a primer on the relevant U.S.
military aid programs (both traditional and new) that are used as compensation for basing
and other access rights, including for Central Asian participation in the recently launched
Northern Distribution Network (NDN), a land-based supply route for U.S. and allied forces
that runs through Central Asia to Afghanistan. The U.S. government has no comprehensive budget for the assistance it provides
to the police, militaries, and other Central Asian security forces; however,
in the fullest accounting available to date, this report documents that the United States provided at least $145 million in military aid through 19 different budgets
and programs in one year (fiscal year 2007). This amount is nearly half of the total
of $329 million that the U.S. government gave to Central Asian governments in
2007, and it is six times the amount the U.S. government spent to promote rule of
law, democratic governance, and respect for fundamental human rights in that same year.
Abstract: Uzbekistan has the largest population and the largest military in Central Asia, with 65,000
soldiers. Given Uzbekistan’s size, centrality in the region, and proximity to Afghanistan,
the U.S. government prioritized Uzbekistan for military assistance and cooperation in
the region early on. Military aid relations developed rapidly in the latter half of the 1990s,
but they were constrained by concerns about political repression and severe human rights
Following 9/11 and Uzbekistan’s positive response to a U.S. request for use of
the Karshi-Khanabad (K2) airbase, bilateral U.S. aid, according to the State Department
inspector general, trebled to approximately $162 million in FY 2002, with seven U.S.
entities providing assistance to Uzbek police and military that year.
Abstract: Afghanistan’s neighbors that garner the most attention in policy debates about resolving its conflicts are Iran and Pakistan. The five post-Soviet states to Afghanistan’s north—Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan—also will have a hand in determining Afghanistan’s future, though their relevance is often discounted and there is little understanding of exactly what their role might be. Joshua Foust’s paper explains how and why these bordering countries do not view the war in Afghanistan in the same terms as do the United States, Russia, Europe, or the Security Council collectively. In some cases, the interests of these Central Asian neighbors run counter to those of the more global players seeking to determine Afghanistan’s future. In this paper he explores:
* Transnational Threats. The Central Asian states face two major threats to the stability of their brittle regimes, which are exacerbated by uncertainty in Afghanistan: criminal networks (especially human and narcotics trafficking) and Islamic extremism.
* Regional Economic Development. The potential for economic gain, whether through cooperative resource extraction, international trade, or energy production, could be a vehicle for realizing broader engagement with Afghanistan by Central Asia’s countries.
* Contributions to a Regional Solution in Afghanistan. While they are currently preoccupied with internal issues, Foust sees considerable opportunity for increasing cooperation among countries in the region in an effort to aid the international community’s efforts in Afghanistan.
Abstract: The development of geopolitical processes over the past decade demonstrates that Central Asia has become one of the key Eurasian regions, with major impact on the overall climate of the continental and global security.
Central Asia’s influence is felt on several fronts, primarily those of combating international terrorism and supplying oil and natural gas.
At the same time, the region’s growing importance carries certain risks. As the region becomes an integral part of the global system of security and the economy, it also becomes sensitive to the effects of the multiple factors and processes that traditionally determine the course of global political, economic, cultural, and ideological development. Today we can distinguish at least three areas that are located at the junction of these two tensions: the problem of Afghanistan; the issue of increasing supplies of oil and gas, taking into account the diversification of routes; and the transformation of Central Asia as the continental transportation hub. All three of these areas carry a powerful geopolitical component, characterized by the involvement of a large number of regional and global players.
Abstract: By opening its borders to some 100,000 vulnerable ethnic Uzbek refugees fleeing deadly violence in southern Kyrgyzstan, the Uzbekistan government demonstrated rare humanitarianism and respect for international law. After the clashes subsided, Uzbekistan arranged with Kyrgyzstan to encourage the refugees to voluntarily return for Kyrgyzstan’s June 27 constitutional referendum. While Uzbekistan and its citizens should be commended for their humane actions they should be encouraged, along with their neighbors, to provide temporary asylum to any refugee at risk and cease any deportation of those still fearing persecution if returned to Kyrgyzstan.
Abstract: In early June 2010, news began to emerge from southern Kyrgyzstan of an eruption of brutality and violence against ethnic Uzbeks living around Osh and Jalal-Abad in the Ferghana Valley. Uzbeks make up about 15 percent of the population in Kyrgyzstan, with more equal numbers of Kyrgyz and Uzbeks living in the Ferghana area.
Recently, organised gangs of Kyrgyzs raided ethnic Uzbek neighborhoods, setting homes and businesses ablaze and killing men, women and children. This is the worst violence seen in the region since 1990, when hundreds of people were killed. In June, around 100,000 people fled the ‘pogroms,’ moving across the border into Uzbekistan. The Uzbek government closed doors to all except the wounded on June 15 after receiving 75,000 refugees in a short span of time.
Abstract: With the US-led West getting about to withdraw from Afghanistan - the real upsurge for the crucial region historically known as the Between and Betwixt of Empires is about to begin in earnest. This will be a confluence - a perfect storm - of the revival and resurrection of historic mega-trends under contemporary conditions. Most important are the revival of the original Russian-Chinese “Great Game”. For almost three centuries, Central Asia was the preeminent zone of confrontation between China’s Manchu Dynasty (1644-1912) and Russia’s Romanov Dynasty (1613-1917). Now, the Heart of Asia has once again become the zone Between and Betwixt Empires in more than mere geopolitical terms. However, what makes the current situation uniquely explosive and dangerous is the surge of the Jihadist movement - emboldened by its enduring of the US/ISAF war in Afghanistan and Pakistan - as a most vibrant and violent force that is setting the Heart of Asia aflame. The Jihadist movement is facilitating the Chinese ascent as a global hegemon in return for a Chinese umbrella against US and Western retaliation. This confluence of historic and grand strategic mega-trends constitutes not only a threat to the quintessential vital interests of Russia - but to the well-being of the entire industrialized North.
Abstract: The former Soviet Central Asian republic of Kyrgyzstan is not a particularly nice piece of real estate. While it is in one of those mountainous regions that could be used to anchor Russian power, it is on the far side of the Eurasian steppe from the Russian core, more than 3,000 kilometers (1,800 miles) removed from the Russian heartland. The geography of Kyrgyzstan itself also leaves a great deal to be desired. Kyrgyzstan is an artificial construct created by none other than Stalin, who rearranged internal Soviet borders in the region to maximize the chances of dislocation, dispute and disruption among the indigenous populations in case the Soviet provinces ever gained independence.
Abstract: [...] The tribal areas bordering Pakistan and Afghanistan have become known as a haven for radical groups, playing host to pro-Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters. The patronage of local tribal groups in these two provinces allowed remnants of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), under the control of Tahir Yuldashev, and the IJU splinter group to gain a foothold in the region. Uzbek militants, sheltered by Sirajuddin Haqqani, attended a rudimentary training camp at Mir Ali in Waziristan and continued to play a key role in the intricate relationships between the remnants of al-Qaeda and the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban. As part of an alliance between the powerful Haqqani network and associates of Baitullah Mahsud’s Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), these groups extended their influence in tribal areas made up of a mosaic of different ethnic and sub-ethnic tribal communities. The growing influence of the alliance masked infighting between different tribal factions in 2004 and afterwards. According to local reports, some Waziri groups led by Mauvli Nazir were unhappy with the presence of 'foreign' Uzbek groups in parts of FATA in 2007. An agreement could not be reached and this forced Yuldashev to relocate to another part of Waziristan. However, the infighting continued, prompted partly by Pakistani efforts to exploit the friction between the two Uzbek factions (the IMU and IJU) and local tribal groups, which eventually spilled out into attacks against Pakistani forces in 2008.
Abstract: Kyrgyzstan’s violence underscores the instability of those former Soviet governments which are burdened by authoritarian and corrupt rule. To varying degrees, every Central Asian country faces serious threats at home and from the war in neighboring Afghanistan. They need help. The West and Russia should act, including by engaging the underutilized Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Central Asia -- Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan -- is insecure. Uzbekistan and Tajikistan have ethnic kin fighting in Afghanistan who might target repressive rulers at home. The extremist Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan is becoming more threatening. The recent cessation of U.S. support for eradicating poppy fields in Afghanistan will spur narcotics trafficking via Central Asia. Economic challenges and rampant corruption undermine security. The area is rich in oil and gas mainly in the Caspian region and America and its companies have an important stake in the development of its huge oil reserves and diversification of world oil supplies. That said, high unemployment and dashed expectations in impoverished Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan could provoke social explosions. Most people in Turkmenistan remain poor despite its huge natural gas reserves. In Kazakhstan oil development raises many but not all living standards. A major Central Asia security initiative – made more urgent by developments in Kyrgyzstan – could offer content worthy of a summit.
Abstract: Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan are active fronts in the wider conflict against violent extremism centered on Afghanistan and Pakistan. Although these states are less prominent in discussions about U.S. security interests in the region than nuclear-armed Pakistan, their stability is an important and unacknowledged component of the AfPak equation. And, as conditions in Afghanistan continue to deteriorate, the menace of jihadism could eventually worsen into a strategic threat for Central Asian states, particularly when paired with a succession crisis, natural disaster, or other sudden shock. Beyond threatening indigenous regimes, some Central Asia militants have also demonstrated a clear intent to mount operations against foreign targets, both within the broader region and, in the case of the Sauerland Plot, in the European Union.
Alarmist predictions have dogged Central Asia since the breakup of the Soviet Union, yet the region has proved remarkably resilient. Despite Tajikistan’s civil war and episodic outbreaks of violence in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan, stability has been the rule and disorder the exception. Amid much ambiguity, the region has “muddled through.” It may continue to do so, but declining labor remittances, looming succession struggles, latent ethnic tensions, counterproductive government policies, and returning militants are conspiring against the forces of stasis.
Abstract: This is the 12th FCO Annual Report on Human
Rights. The report sets out the UK’s work and
policy on human rights in 2009, and explains the
importance of human rights across our foreign
policy goals. It highlights our main policies,
countries of concern and the challenges we
face. It demonstrates how we seek to address
these issues through diplomatic channels and
international bodies, as well as our programme
work across the globe. However, many of the issues covered in these pages
highlight the growing tendency to once again claim
human rights as a “Western” construct, unsuited to
particular cultures and countries. In the Democratic
People’s Republic of Korea, the government continues
to insist that national security and cultural differences
invalidate human rights obligations and justify
subjecting humanitarian workers to severe restrictions.
In Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi is incarcerated on
the basis of similar arguments that her battle for
Foreword by the Foreign Secretary
democracy undermines national security. Women are
still denied their human rights in many parts of the
world, on the basis that culture and religion render
those rights inapplicable. The increasing threat to
gay people’s rights in some African countries reminds
us that tolerance is a dream rather than a reality for
much of the world’s population.
But this report also shows how people around the
world are pushing back against the idea that human
rights are not universal – in 2009 demonstrators
in Guinea and Honduras demanded their rights to
democracy, human rights defenders from Belarus
to Syria continued to protest against injustice and
worldwide, individuals and groups continue to work
to realise the rights of all. We have a responsibility
to applaud these efforts, and to support them by
challenging the notion that human rights depend on
culture and circumstance.
Abstract: At least 71 journalists were killed across the globe in 2009, the Committee to Protect Journalists announced Tuesday, the largest annual toll in the 30 years the group has been keeping track.
Twenty-nine of those deaths came in a single, politically motivated massacre of reporters and others in the Philippines last November, the worst known episode for journalists, the committee said.
But there were other worrisome trends. The two nations with the highest number of journalists incarcerated — China had 24 journalists imprisoned at the end of 2009 and Iran had 23 — were particularly harsh in taking aim at bloggers and others using the Internet. The number jailed in Iran has since jumped to 47, the committee said. Of the 71 confirmed deaths, 51 were murders, the committee said. The report noted that 24 additional deaths of journalists remained under investigation to determine if they were related to the journalists’ work. Previously, the highest number of journalists killed in a single year was 67, in 2007, when violence in Iraq was raging.
Abstract: The threat posed by radical Islam has invariably been perceived as the
most serious challenge to stability in Central Asia since 1991. Fears were
raised by the Islamic revolution which had developed internally in Cent ral
Asia, the external invasion of radicals (from Afghanistan) and Islamic terrorism.
Combating the Islamic threat became one of the key elements of
individual Central Asian countries’ security policies and those adopted
by regional and global powers towards this region. The Islamic threat
hanging over Central Asia also became a regular issue raised in media
discourse and in debates within analysts’ circles.
Numerous conflicts and tensions in both Central Asia and its immediate
neighbourhood seemed to provide grounds for such fears, which politicians
and analysts alike have shared since the collapse of the USSR. Ini tially,
the destructive influence from war-torn Afghanistan and from Iran, which
was engaged in a policy of exporting its Islamic revolution, raised especially
great concerns. The facts which seemed to prove that the risk was
real included the civil war in Tajikistan (1992–1997), during which the
Islamic Rebirth Party of Tajikistan (IRPT) played a key role on the side of
the opposition; Muslim militias’ attempts to take power in the Uzbek part
of the Fergana Valley (1991–1995); the activity of the Islamic Movement
of Uzbekistan (attempts at armed raids against Uzbekistan with the aim
of setting up a caliphate in 1999 and 2000); terrorist attacks (including
the series of attacks in Uzbekistan in 2004); the rebellion in Andijan
Abstract: The essay will explore the role of the economy and social well-being and its impact on the transition to peace. I advance two arguments: First, when economic opportunities diminish, grievances are more likely to become expressed through violence, while in an environment of increasing economic opportunities, political grievances will not result in violence, even if the grievances are considerable. Second, when economic and social opportunities exist, the transition to peace is more sustainable. Hence in post-conflict peacebuilding, more effort should be made to create economic opportunities in order to increase the probabilities of lasting peace. I examine these arguments in the case of several Central Asian countries.
Abstract: The development of new northern supply routes into Afghanistan, termed the Northern
Distribution Network (NDN) by the U.S. government, and the expanded U.S. presence in
Afghanistan has had considerable impact on regional geopolitics in Eurasia. For those states now
involved in the NDN (Latvia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and
Uzbekistan), this cooperation has added a new dimension to their relations that increases their
stakes in bilateral ties with the United States and vice versa. Washington is engaging these
partners on an issue of utmost priority to U.S. security interests. Together and individually these
states can play a constructive role in Afghan stabilization efforts. But persistent tensions, mistrust,
paranoia, authoritarianism, and a near-exclusive focus on “regime preservation” make some of
them unwieldy and volatile partners. Suspicion of U.S. intentions and commitment further
complicate this calculation. Understanding the dimensions of and knowing how to manage the
geopolitical challenges and opportunities associated with NDN transit states and other key players
is critical for the United States.
Abstract: Signaling a sense of strategic urgency to counter recent Taliban gains, the Northern Distribution Network is being adapted to handle the transit of weaponry and hardware destined for US and NATO troops fighting in Afghanistan. The Northern Distribution Network (NDN) started out as a conduit for non-military supplies, including humanitarian assistance and reconstruction materials. But with the strategic situation for US and NATO troops in Afghanistan becoming more challenging, the scope of NDN’s operations is expanding. The United States has secured "lethal transit" deals with Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, Tom Tanner, the US embassy spokesman in Astana told EurasiaNet on October 13. Both the Kyrgyz Ministry of Defense and the US Embassy in Bishkek confirmed earlier that the Manas Transit Center is facilitating the shipment of military freight going to Afghanistan. Permission to use Manas in this way was granted under the terms of the new agreement struck between Washington and Bishkek on June 23, and did not need to be negotiated separately, the US embassy revealed.
Abstract: The reported death of the leader of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, IMU, would be a blow to a militant group which is close to the Taleban and has recently become a thorn in the side of security forces in Afghanistan.
Radio Liberty first reported the death of Tahir Yuldash (Tohir Yoldash in Uzbek), quoting a man who claimed to be his bodyguard. Wire services later quoted Pakistani intelligence officials as confirming that he died in late August in a United States rocket strike in the Pakistani region of South Waziristan.
However, in a statement that appeared on the Russian language website fergana.ru, the IMU insisted its leader was alive and well.
The movement lost its military commander, Juma Namangani, in US air strikes during the 2001 invasion of northern Afghanistan, soon after it had relocated there from Central Asia and teamed up with the Taleban.
In Afghanistan, reports of Yuldash’s death have led to speculation about the future of the IMU.
“Tahir Yuldash led a movement whose supporters have been active in northern Afghanistan for some time now,” said military analyst and retired army officer Colonel Sharyar Arghawan. “Now it falls to his replacement to determine how active the group will be.”
Uzbek fighters from the IMU have been stirring up trouble in northern Afghanistan for the past several months, according to security officials.
Abstract: Nations in Transit 2009 is the 13th edition of Freedom House’s comprehensive,
comparative study of democratic development from Central Europe
to Eurasia. It examines 29 countries, including the newest independent
state in the region, Kosovo. The overarching conclusion is that 2008 was a very
difficult year for democracy: scores declined for 18 of the 29 countries, and a record
8 countries are now in the “consolidated authoritarian regimes” category. Worrying
trends highlighted in the previous three editions of Nations in Transit became even
more pronounced in 2008, while positive trends lost momentum.
A number of events illustrate the intensification of these negative trends. In
2008, for the first time in the 21st century, a war erupted between two states covered
in Nations in Transit. The so-called “August War” between Georgia and Russia served
as a wake-up call for those who believed that the democratic decline observed in
the region over the last few years would not have a detrimental effect on security
and stability. Highly problematic elections accentuated the region’s troubles. Two
petro-states, Azerbaijan (which recorded the largest democratic decline in this
edition of Nations in Transit) and the Russian Federation, held uncompetitive
presidential elections in which the result was predetermined. Armenia’s presidential
poll was marred by lethal postelection violence. And the government in Georgia
used administrative resources to seriously influence that country’s hotly contested
presidential and parliamentary elections. Nations in Transit 2009 documents
how journalists were once again at risk throughout the region, from Croatia to
Uzbekistan, and national governments were challenged by corruption scandals, as
was the case in Bulgaria; by divisive ethnic politics, as in Bosnia and Herzegovina;
by parliamentary boycotts, as in Montenegro; or by infighting and outright
irresponsibility among political leaders, as in Ukraine.