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Showing posts from October 8, 2013

Central Asia's Ties to Afghanistan

Central Asia has numerous important links to Afghanistan that will open the region to significant effects after the upcoming U.S. and NATO drawdown. First and foremost, Central Asia is linked to Afghanistan geographically; Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan share borders with Afghanistan that collectively span more than 2,000 kilometers (about 1,240 miles). Central Asia and Afghanistan also have important demographic ties.

Because of the geography of the border areas, interaction and movement between the peoples of Central Asia and Afghanistan has historically been difficult to stop. Furthermore, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989 created direct interaction between the Soviet Tajiks, Uzbeks and Turkmen and their ethnic cohorts in Afghanistan, with many of the former participating in Soviet military operations (in large part because of their ethno-linguistic ties). The Soviet Central Asians' exposure to their more tribal and religious Afghan counterparts crea…

Disconnecting the U.S. Raids in Libya and Somalia


The two U.S. special operations raids to capture high-value targets in Libya and Somalia both occurred on Oct. 5 but do not seem to have been directly connected. The operations were most likely the consequences of distinct intelligence efforts, and their timing so close together was probably coincidental. Still, the operations illustrate that while the United States is avoiding larger and longer engagements, the use of limited special operations with smaller dispersed footprints and specific targets continues.


The target of the operation in Tripoli, the Libyan capital, was Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai, also known as Abu Anas al-Libi. He has been sought by the United States for his involvement in the 1998 embassy attacks in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam and was one of the original names on the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorists list when it was created in October 2001. Apart from his role in the embassy attacks, al-Libi had been tied to the al Qaeda core since its relocation to…

EU: Who Is Ultimately Responsible for Immigrants?

The European Union's debate over illegal immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers became much more sensitive after a ship holding some 500 immigrants sank last week near the Italian island of Lampedusa. Some 200 people drowned and as many as 150 are still missing.

The incident prompted the Italian government to demand a renegotiation of EU policies on the issue, which home affairs ministers from member states will discuss during a meeting Oct. 8. While immigration will remain central to the EU agenda for some time, little progress will be made because EU members have neither the will nor the ability to enact meaningful reform.

Europe's geographic position and high standards of living make it an attractive destination for African, Middle Eastern and Eastern European immigrants. According to the European Council of Refugees and Exiles, around 1.5 million of the world's 16 million recognized refugees currently live legally in Europe. Several million more immigrants live illegal…

Central Asia: The Complexities of the Fergana Valley


Editor's Note:
A recent border dispute in the Fergana Valley, the core of Central Asia, highlights the growing tensions in the strategic and contested region. Kyrgyz and Uzbek border patrol units were removed from the Ungar-Too area in Kyrgyzstan's Jalal-Abad region Oct. 2, after a two-week standoff over an alleged Uzbek border incursion into the area. Such incursions, coupled with ethnic tensions and sporadic violence, have become increasingly common in the Fergana Valley region, which is split between Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

The valley has long been the population and agricultural heartland of Central Asia. It has also been one of the most unstable areas in the region since the collapse of the Soviet Union due to several factors, including diverse and interspersed populations, complex borders, dwindling resources and religious extremism.


The Fergana Valley is located in Central Asia's southeast corner and is enclosed by the Tian Shan Mountain…