The history of Pamir, Russia kicks out USAID, and China’s deepening role in Central Asia

It was difficult to pick great stories this week out of Central Asia and Caucasus coverage – there were so many fascinating and important articles. Here were the three I was most interested in for today:

The Pamir Has a History – The Tuquay: This article is extremely short, and frankly ends rather abruptly for my taste – only because the author began to paint such a rich tapestry of the Pamir and all the entities and history that have passed through (Buddhists, snipers, etc) and then the piece ends. I found myself searching for the rest of it, wondering if I was crazy and just couldn’t find the rest of the article. But worth the 3 minutes it’ll take to read it, to get an idea of just how layered the Pamir is in terms of colliding cultures and history. Bonus: great pictures.

Russia Boots USAID in a Big Blow to Obama’s ‘Reset’ Policy – PRI’s The World: Since Egypt kicked out US NGOs (and detained a number of US citizens) in 2011, it’s become fairly common to hear reporting on countries accusing NGOs of being agencies of the government. This accusation has been around for much longer, but the Egypt crisis really raised public awareness on the issue. Now Russia has followed suite, saying that “USAID-funded NGOs, or non-governmental organizations, had crossed certain “red lines.”” NGOs, as the article points out, often promote democracy and civil governance/society. Putin, who has a habit of consolidating powers, is likely to see NGOs, particularly foreign funded ones, as agents of change, and more pointedly, regime change. With the protests and international attention on Russian opposition lately, chances are he’s loathe to encourage groups that may undercut his agenda in Moscow, especially ones from the US or funded by the US. Sadly, this new initiative also includes health organizations, which are badly needed.

China Deepens Central Asia Role – Zabikhulla S Saipov, Central Asia Times: More great game chess moves.

“In particular, Beijing succeeded in rapidly building and launching the Kazakhstan-China oil pipeline and the Turkmenistan-Uzbekistan-Kazakhstan-China gas pipeline. In all of these projects, China achieved its goals incrementally by inviting Uzbekistan only after nearing completing of the construction of its Central Asia-China gas pipeline, having built the necessary infrastructure first in Kazakhstan and then in Turkmenistan.”


One comment

  1. The article used to support the story of Russia kicking out USAID is badly flawed, and relies heavily on the testimony of known Russophobe Konstantin von Eggert. There is nothing in the new Russian NGO law that mandates the closure of the Health Care Foundation, and it is clear that only organizations whose work is political are regulated by it. USAID may well decide to close the organization by ceasing its funding, but it will not be directed to do so by the Russian government. No organization operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, literary, or educational purposes is even required to register as a foreign agent, never mind ordered to close and get out.

    GOLOS continued to report polls in Russia within the period before the election (I think it’s 5 days, but I’d have to check) when it is forbidden and was well aware it was a violation of electoral law, in a clear attempt to influence the vote, which was the reason the law was written that way in the first place. Golos attempted to gain control of exit polling, and it was reporting of alleged fraud in exit polls which inspired both the Rose Revolution and the Orange Revolution. Both resulted in western-leaning governments which were nonetheless disastrous for their people. Western NGO’s and western-backed youth movements claimed credit for the revolutions when they were won, but gradually backed away when their first revolution brought a dictator to power whose government shamelessly buys votes from the poor and elderly using state money (verified in the OSCE Report of the 2008 election) and threatens opposition supporters with loss of employment, while their second revolution put an incompetent buffoon in the driver’s seat who could not control his government and spent much of his time fighting with his Prime Minister, who later went to jail on corruption charges. I think Russia is wise to be wary of western NGO’s as they are often agents of regime change and even at their best heavily favour the political opposition.

    Here’s a list of the organizations in Russia supported by the National Endowment for Democracy, for example.

    It’s fairly clear on reading it, together with the activities it supports, that much of its work is to keep the population restive and angry, convinced its rights are being transgressed and stolen, while tying up the government in myriad lawsuits for corruption and compensation even when there is little hope of them being successful, while openly supporting opposition figures and youth movements with training on how to organize protests and strikes. The United States government would never tolerate foreign NGO’s such as these on American soil, plainly agitating against the government and funded by foreign capital. The Foreign Agents Registration Act ensures any foreign organization which is in any way political must register as an agent of a foreign government and label all its materials as propaganda, and would kick out any organization it suspected of conspiring to overthrow the government.

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