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French elections, round 1: sending the right signal to Central Asia

  • Written by Douglas Green

LONDON (TCA) — If Turkey’s referendum in favour of authoritarianism gave the wrong hint to Central Asia’s former Soviet republics, France’s choice for its next head of state is a message well worth heeding. The possible defeat of the nationalistic party and Marine Le Pen may secure a massive adhesion of other losing camps to Emmanuel Macron, and may encourage former Soviet states to move away from one-man regimes towards government by consensus.

Read more: French elections, round 1: sending the right signal to Central Asia

Turkish referendum: sending the wrong signal to Central Asia

  • Written by Douglas Green

LONDON (TCA) — It all looks like a shameful charade. But on a slightly longer term, Turkey’s referendum can be considered a step backward rather than forward and is certain to create more problems than it could possibly solve. It goes in the opposite direction of a trend emerging throughout Central Asia away from personality rule and towards a more collective form of government. While expected to have little immediate geopolitical spillover, the message sent by Turkey’s narrow majority in the direction of Central Asia is most of all psychological – and it is the wrong message.

Read more: Turkish referendum: sending the wrong signal to Central Asia

ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY FOR A BETTER SOCIETY: Make a difference, battle prison overcrowding

  • Written by TCA

BISHKEK (TCA) — Jails are currently overcrowded and penal institutions are seeking solutions to improve jails’ situations, while being able to monitor efficiently and in a secure manner prisoners who could be released. Moreover, prisons are very expensive to operate. Prisons are overcrowded and have serious shortages of food and medical support.

Read more: ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY FOR A BETTER SOCIETY: Make a difference, battle prison overcrowding

Towards a New World Order in Eurasia: The 21st Century’s Great Game

  • Written by James M. Dorsey

BISHKEK (TCA) — As a new Great Game is just beginning in Eurasia with China being perhaps the key player on the vast region’s geopolitical map, we are presenting an abstract from a paper by Dr. James M. Dorsey, a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies and co-director of the University of Würzburg’s Institute for Fan Culture. The full paper is available here.

Read more: Towards a New World Order in Eurasia: The 21st Century’s Great Game

Uzbek, Kyrgyz and Tajik radicals behind terrorism ‘made in Central Asia’

  • Written by Douglas Green

LONDON (TCA) — In the attack on an Istanbul nightclub last winter and recent ones in Stockholm, St. Petersburg and Astrakhan most of the perpetrators appeared to be not Chechens, Ingush and Dagestanians “as usual” but people from Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, as well as ethnic Uygurs from western China. This, in the eyes of the public, has turned Central Asia into a terrorist brand. It appears that the region is ill-prepared to cope with it.

Read more: Uzbek, Kyrgyz and Tajik radicals behind terrorism ‘made in Central Asia’

Will Kurds in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan seek joining Greater Kurdistan?

  • Written by Douglas Green

LONDON (TCA) — Should Central Asia care whether or not Kurds in the world will have their own home in the form of the Greater Kurdistan Republic, covering the northern regions of Iraq and Syria? The answer would be no without taking precedent mechanisms into consideration. There has been talk more than once about Kyrgyzstan being split up into North and South or Tajikistan’s east proclaiming independence, and separatist tendencies in northern Kazakhstan. Any other attempt to change the geopolitical map anywhere in the world means bad tidings for other areas suffering from either real or imaginary geopolitical threats.

Read more: Will Kurds in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan seek joining Greater Kurdistan?

Time to re-engage

  • Written by S. Frederick Starr

BISHKEK (TCA) — As the new US administration is yet to determine its strategy in Central Asia and Afghanistan, we are republishing this article by S. Frederick Starr, the chairman of the Central Asia Caucasus Institute at the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington, originally published by The American Interest:

Read more: Time to re-engage

China: Belt and Road Initiative

  • Written by Dr. Shamshad Akhtar*

BISHKEK (TCA) — As Beijing is pursuing its Belt and Road Initiative aimed at generating mutual benefits for China and its partners in Eurasia and Central Asia in particular, we are publishing this op-ed by Executive Secretary Shamshad Akhtar of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific:

Read more: China: Belt and Road Initiative

Central Asia corruption: how Kyrgyzstan can make a fresh start (part 1)

  • Written by Charles van der Leeuw

BISHKEK (TCA) — How can Central Asia’s nations reverse the force of greed thriving their upper echelons in favour of a fairer division of wealth en replace personal enrichment by collective economic improvement? If western parties would replace provocations by assistance to get justice done, it would help a lot, and give a new political generation no longer driven by selfish aspirations a chance to impose a velvet transition in the right direction. Kyrgyzstan appears to be the best-placed for such a process.

Read more: Central Asia corruption: how Kyrgyzstan can make a fresh start (part 1)

Drowning in data – EITI in Kazakhstan must mean more

  • Written by Anton Artemyev

ASTANA (TCA) — Oil-rich Kazakhstan needs to take the maximum use of its huge hydrocarbon and mining sectors revenues at a time when the country’s economy is being affected by low oil and commodities prices. In this context, we are republishing this article by Anton Artemyev, the executive director of the Soros Foundation Kazakhstan, originally published by EurasiaNet.org:

Read more: Drowning in data – EITI in Kazakhstan must mean more

Kazakhstan’s banks merger: a remedy or a pain killer?

  • Written by Charles van der Leeuw

ALMATY (TCA) — Recently a minor-scale bank in Kazakhstan named KazInvest ran aground. Now, another one, Delta Bank, is moving towards the brink of bankruptcy. Yet another “junior”, Temirbank, formerly owned by BTA and now controlled by Fortebank, recently defaulted on its coupon repayment schedule as well. In 2016, Temirbank posted a net income of 10.875 billion tenge which turned into a net loss of 4.41134 billion for the full year during the last quarter. During the last three months, equity capital dwindled from 54.5 billion to 39.2 billion tenge. Current asset par value stands close to 357 billion tenge, but it remains unclear what the percentage of exposed assets within that amount is.

Read more: Kazakhstan’s banks merger: a remedy or a pain killer?

Terrorism: the Afghan war redrawing Central Asia ‘Silk Route of Terror’ (part 2)

  • Written by Douglas Green

LONDON (TCA) — Some attempts have been made to draft a rough sketch of the “Silk Route of Terror” but mapping it proves a bit hard. Besides, that map could fundamentally change if somehow the Afghan government manages to forge a compromise with the Taliban rebels. Presently there are two itineraries for Central Asian would-be terrorists. Either they move from their home country in Central Asia to Turkey, from there to Syria or Iraq, then to Afghanistan and back home enriched by experience and evil plans, or from Central Asia they pass into Afghanistan, from there to the Near-East battleground and back, through Turkey or directly. In both cases, the significance of Afghanistan as a transit hub and training ground is on the rise.

Read more: Terrorism: the Afghan war redrawing Central Asia ‘Silk Route of Terror’ (part 2)

A quiet siege of Turkmenistan

  • Written by Eugene Chausovsky

BISHKEK (TCA) — Tomorrow, February 12, Turkmen citizens will go to the polls to almost certainly re-elect incumbent President Berdimukhammedov for a new term. As Turkmenistan is experiencing economic, and security, challenges, we are republishing this article by Stratfor’s Lead Analyst Eugene Chausovsky, originally published by Stratfor:

Read more: A quiet siege of Turkmenistan

Terrorism: the ‘forgotten dimensions’ of jihadism in Central Asia, China (part 1)

  • Written by Douglas Green

LONDON (TCA) — Are the governments of Central Asia’s post-Soviet republics taking effective action to root out the phantom of terrorism lurking in all corners of the region? The awkward question was carefully avoided during the latest peace talks on Syria in Astana. Fact remains, however, that thousands of nationals of Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and (most of all) Uzbekistan are “fighting” in Syria and northern Iraq. In the meantime a rather large number of them are also spreading over the world to replace terrorists originating from the Near-East to spread new waves of havoc, while others “bring terror home” by returning to their countries of origin ready to carry out attacks on their own communities. However, so far nobody has properly mapped the overall situation.

Read more: Terrorism: the ‘forgotten dimensions’ of jihadism in Central Asia, China (part 1)

Turkmenistan, ten years of living dangerously

  • Written by Davide Cancarini

ASHGABAT (TCA) — December 2016 marked an important anniversary for Turkmenistan: ten years since the country’s autocratic ruler Saparmyrat Niyazov passed away in December 2006, giving the way to power to the current president, Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov. During the last decade he has tried to change, at least on a propaganda level, Turkmenistan's place within the international system, but failing to achieve the main objective: diversification of Turkmen gas export routes.

Read more: Turkmenistan, ten years of living dangerously

Kazakhstan: outcome of Syria talks in Astana

  • Written by Charles van der Leeuw

BISHKEK (TCA) — Is Astana going to become a regular meeting point for squabbling parties in troubled corners of the world, shooting it out at home but inclined to compromise to spare lives and economies? The results of the talks on the situation in Syria, which ended with mostly a confirmation of the status quo excluding any outlook of a longer-term political situation in Syria, are an ambiguous indication of such a prospect. UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura was quoted as stating: "Kazakhstan, under the leadership of President (Nursultan) Nazarbayev, has provided a remarkable contribution to our efforts to push for peace in Syria."

Read more: Kazakhstan: outcome of Syria talks in Astana

Can an ambitious India seize the moment?

  • Written by Stratfor

BISHKEK (TCA) — On 26th January India will celebrate its national day. It will be a day of celebration and confrontation between great achievements and the ambition to become a global player. Problems at home, as fiscal constraints and a demographic explosion, limit the country’s investment and economic development, and although New Delhi has been looking internationally for a quite some time, it has so far not been able to develop a proper strategy toward Central Asia. There is no doubt that a more result oriented policy toward an expanded Central Asia may help India achieve a better result and undisputed links for its business. The situation with Pakistan and China is far from being resolved, and it certainly restrains additional investments and creates barriers toward a global role for India irrespective of its consistent economic growth. The Times of Central Asia is republishing this article of Stratfor under its Geopolitical Diary:

Read more: Can an ambitious India seize the moment?

Syria talks in Kazakhstan: a possible breakthrough

  • Written by Douglas Green

LONDON (TCA) — What is at stake at the upcoming negotiations in Astana between the parties involved in the terrible civil war in Syria? The fact that the Syrian government and most (though not all) of the so-called moderate opposition have promised to be present means little. Those “moderate” groups are in fact armed militias grouped around political chiefs after the notorious model of Lebanon during its 16-year civil war. Iran, Turkey, Russia and most European states appear to be willing to live with that. Two wildcards remain: the USA and Saudi Arabia.

Read more: Syria talks in Kazakhstan: a possible breakthrough

Cause of Kyrgyzstan air crash points to poor navigation control, due to financial woes

  • Written by Douglas Green

LONDON (TCA) — Was it “human error”? Was it “technical”? Or was it just the fog? Whatever caused the terrible accident with the Turkish Boeing that crashed on a Kyrgyz village on January 16 should be revealed after the black boxes have been examined. What is probably almost certain is that Kyrgyzstan’s air navigation services are not always functioning as they should.

Read more: Cause of Kyrgyzstan air crash points to poor navigation control, due to financial woes

Regional solutions key for Asia-Pacific’s transition to sustainable energy

  • Written by Dr. Shamshad Akhtar

BISHKEK (TCA) — As the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) established an intergovernmental Committee on Energy that will meet for the first time in Bangkok 17-19 January, we are publishing this OP-ED by Dr. Shamshad Akhtar, an Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and the Executive Secretary of ESCAP:

Read more: Regional solutions key for Asia-Pacific’s transition to sustainable energy

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