On Dec. 26, authorities in Azerbaijan raided the local bureau of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, a U.S. government-funded service, seizing computers and ordering the office shut down. Earlier that month, police had arrested Khadija Ismayilova, a RFE/RL reporter and the country’s most prominent investigative journalist, on dubious charges of inciting someone to commit suicide. (The alleged victim has since recanted the accusation, but Ms. Ismayilova remains in jail.)
These events have been reported abroad largely as marking a further constriction in Azerbaijan’s already tiny space for alternative points of view. And they are that. But they also suggest a dramatic change in the geopolitics of the volatile Caspian Sea region: the Azerbaijani government’s growing hostility toward Washington.… Seguir leyendo »
On June 16, Alexander Sodiqov, a Ph.D student in political science at the University of Toronto, was arrested in his native Tajikistan and reportedly charged with espionage and treason. His crime: investigating a local conflict that the government would rather you not know anything about.
It is easy to keep secrets in the Pamir Mountains — the rugged, sparsely populated eastern region of Tajikistan that borders China and Afghanistan. There is one flight a day from the capital Dushanbe to the region’s main city, Khorog, and it is canceled at the slightest hint of bad weather. The only alternative is a 15-or-so-hour drive over rough mountain roads.… Seguir leyendo »
The Pentagon quietly announced last month that the U.S. military is leaving the air base it has operated in Kyrgyzstan as a staging area for American troops and matériel since 2001. While the move will complicate American efforts to wind down the war in Afghanistan, the decision has much broader ramifications: It marks the end of a brief experiment to extend American power and influence into the distant strategic arena of Central Asia.
The base, formally known as the Transit Center at Manas, is a key installation for the U.S. military, with about 1,500 American airmen processing all the troops going in and out of the Afghanistan theater and operating refueling aircraft.… Seguir leyendo »
There is perhaps no country on earth surrounded by more difficult neighbors than Afghanistan. When the U.S. wants to ship matériel to its troops there, it can’t go through Tajikistan because the roads are so poor; it can’t go through Turkmenistan because that country maintains an isolationist neutrality; and, for obvious reasons, it can’t go through Iran.
Until Nov. 26, the U.S. military shipped about a third of its supplies through Pakistan, but after an American attack killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, the country cut off NATO’s access to the border, and there is little indication that officials in Islamabad intend to change their minds.… Seguir leyendo »