The Northern Caucasus in Downward Spiral

The Northern Caucasus remains in trouble and Russia is not quite sure what to do about it. The region, notoriously ruled by clans, has seen a steady rise in violence, with Dagestan (gearing up for a change in leadership) and Ingushetia increasingly stealing the spotlight from the better-known bloody insurgency in Chechnya. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has suggested a government post in charge of the region, however that looks more like a propaganda move than one that will actually garner results. Though Medvedev’s solution seems to be superficial, the motivation for it is real. The leader has acknowledged that an […]

Georgia Teeters on the Edge

Being an opposition party leader in a country where the media doesn’t pay attention to the opposition is frustrating. So when Georgia’s former Foreign Minister Salomé Zourabichvili had the chance to speak at her alma mater, Columbia University, in New York, her searing criticism of the Georgian government came as no surprise. Zourabichvili’s political adversary, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, also attended Columbia, but that is where the similarities between the two end. As the leader of the political party, The Way of Georgia, Zourabichvili is fighting to stop what she believes to be the demise of the Georgian state under […]

Armenia’s Struggle With an Open Border

As Armenia and Turkey come closer to opening the border between the twofeuding countries, Armenians both home and abroad grapple with whatthis will mean for the Armenian economy and cultural identity. Whilethe Armenian diaspora champion the effort to stop the agreement frommoving forward, those at home struggle with the isolation the feud hascaused.

Observers might disagree about what to call the situation in tiny Ingushetia, a federal republic in Russia’s North Caucasus wracked by an increasingly bloody Islamist insurgency. But whether the violence that has claimed hundreds of lives in the past few years qualifies as a civil war, a colonial war, a war on terror, or just persistent instability, one thing almost everyone agrees on is that Ingushetia increasingly displays the features of a failed state. Perhaps nowhere is that more evident than in the small territory’s dysfunctional security forces. Deteriorating relations between Russian federal authorities and the local police in Ingushetia […]

Off the Radar News Roundup

– Interesting, given the climate of anxiety in Washington over China’s military intentions, that in the week before President Barack Obama’s first state visit to the PRC, Beijing announces plans for closer military cooperation with Togo and Khazakhstan, to say nothing of Macedonia yesterday. – Fresh off a successful counterinsurgency campaign, a general quits his command amid rumors of a future in politics. Yet another reason Gen. David Petraeus will be keeping an eye on Sri Lanka. – When all you’ve got is nukes . . . In a leaked internal review, Russia’s military gets low grades on combat readiness. […]

Off the Radar News Roundup

– Thought Chechnya was “pacified”? Think again. Violence has spiked since Russia officially ended its 10-year counterterror mission there in April. (The implications for Iraq seem ominous.) – It’s been a violent week for Chechnya’s North Caucasus neighbors, too, with attacks reported in Ingushetia, Dagestan and North Ossetia. – Japan continues its checkbook diplomacy, pledging $5.55 billion to the Mekong states: Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and, yes, Burma. Among the reasons for the aid given by Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama are China’s growing influence and America’s greater interest in the region. Interesting . . . Chinese influence, American interest. […]

Off the Radar News Roundup

This is a new feature we’re going to experiment with here on the blog, with the help of our intrepid editorial assistant, Kari Lipschutz. The idea is to catch significant news in the foreign English-language media, before it shows up in Western outlets. So, yes, it amounts to yet another news roundup. But we’re going to try to justify it by delivering not so much breaking news as developing news. In the context of Chaos Theory and the Butterfly Effect, we’re trying to catch the butterfly before it becomes a monsoon. So with that in mind, here goes: – Is […]