Permissible Arms

Kyrgyzstan, Mark II

Posted in kyrgyzstan by Karaka on 29 June 2010

As I was clearing out my queue in Read It Later (also known as the single most useful application for a 200-feed-strong RSS reader) I found a couple other Kyrgyzstan-related things to pass on. First, Human Rights Now has satellite images from Osh that show the extent of the damage and destruction done.

Comparison of buildings in the Cheremushki neighborhood, Osh (2007 vs. 2010). Houses without roofs indicate destruction by fire. After Image: © 2010 DigitalGlobe. Before Image: © 2010 DigitalGlobe © 2010 Google Earth. Produced by AAAS.

USIP had an event on Monday, Preventing Ethnic Violence in Kyrgyzstan: Too Little, Too Late?; I can’t find a podcast or video from it yet, but I’ll link to it should it appear.

The BBC news service reported Friday that externally displaced Kyrgyz citizens in Uzbekistan have been sent or encouraged home, the implication being that Kyrgyzstan wanted them back in the country for the constitutional referendum and Uzbekistan wasn’t real keen on massive refugee camps just inside its borders.

The UN Refugee Agency says that of the estimated 100,000 Uzbeks who crossed the border after ethnic violence in Kyrgyzstan, nearly all have returned.

It is unclear how many may have felt pressured to do so. Amnesty International says it has anecdotal evidence that some refugees were forced onto buses to Kyrgyzstan. This was done, the group said, by refugee camp guards and Uzbek security forces.

And The Monkey Cage had a post last week on Stopping Ethnic Pogroms in Kyrgyzstan; it talks about the ramifications of carrying minimal geopolitical weight and the political bind at home and abroad the Kyrgyzstan finds itself in. [As an aside, for all that TCM gets linked hither and yon, it’s one of those odd blogs that doesn’t get a lot of conversation going in the comments. Weird. ]

I don’t know that the referendum and the return of externally displaced refugees is really any sign of future stability; it seems like there’s a good chance rioting and violence could be incited once again by a very determined group of people. Especially when there’s 400,000 people in the city who no longer have homes to go back to. But we can hope.


Photorealism (Images from Kyrgyzstan)

Posted in kyrgyzstan by Karaka on 18 June 2010

I know, I know, I link to The Big Picture at least a couple of times a month. But the editor does wonderful work compiling these images on controversial or current affairs, and it’s some breathtaking photojournalism. Take, for example, this week’s spread on Kyrgyzstan.

Uzbek refugees seen in the southern Kyrgyz city of Osh, near the border with Uzbekistan, Monday, June 14, 2010. (AP Photo/Faruk Akkan,CHA)

Ethnic Uzbeks walk between tents at a refugee camp in the village of Yorkishlak on the Kyrgyz-Uzbek border on June 18, 2010. (REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov)

A Kyrgyz Interior Ministry forces officer conducts house-to-house searches in the Anoshin neighborhood in the city of Osh, southern Kyrgyzstan, Monday, June 14, 2010. (AP Photo/Alexander Merkushev)

More at The Big Picture.

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Friday Errata (I wonder when Gaga will become muzak?)

Posted in afghanistan, japan, kyrgyzstan, united states by Karaka on 18 June 2010

A couple of links for this astonishingly un-rainy Friday morning:

It still feels like a weirdly slow news day, though.

Monday Errata

Posted in afghanistan, kyrgyzstan, united states, us defense, us military by Karaka on 14 June 2010

If you haven’t yet read it, zen’s interview with Steven Pressfield is a worthy read. It’s also nice to see Mark talk a little about himself, which we don’t see much in his blog! For good reason, of course, but it’s also nice to know the person behind the mind.

Thunder Run has an interview up with Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger on Restrepo.

The film is very balanced and doesn’t lead you, but rather just shows you how it is. Could you describe whether you had any guiding principles about how/what you shot as well as how you edited, how you shaped the film ultimately?

Sebastian: We were not interested in the political dimensions of the war, only the experience of the soldiers, so we limited ourselves to the things soldiers had access to. We did not ask any generals why they were in the Korengal, for example, because soldiers don’t have that opportunity, either. Our guiding principle was that we would only have people in the movie who were fighting in the Korengal. It was that principle that excluded Tim and me from the movie as well… and prevented us from using an outside narrator.

Tim: It was a conscious choice. We are journalists, and as such, we are not supposed to “lead” people to a certain opinion. That is called “advocacy,” and it certainly has its special place in the media world, but as journalists, it’s not something we wanted to engage in.

Also, here’s a counter review on War that speaks very negatively of the book–I called it “delightfully scathing” in the comments to my review at SWJ (hey, give them money, won’t you?), which I still think is true on the re-read. I mean, I think the author of the review, Lewis Manalo, is generally barking up the wrong tree, but he makes some strong points. Points I disagree with, but strong nonetheless.

I’m following Registan’s thorough coverage of the situation in Kyrgyzstan; it remains one of the best english-language sites for updated information. If only I read Cyrillic. The Post this morning picks up the story, noting:

Kyrgyzstan’s own security forces have failed to contain a rising tide of ethnic violence in the south, where more than 100 people have been killed since fighting began Thursday night, according to the country’s health ministry. The officials say the death toll could be considerably higher, as the current count includes only the dead at hospitals and morgues.

Around 75,000 people have now fled fighting into neighboring Uzbekistan, Russia’s official news agency said, citing the Uzbek government.

Kyrgyzstan has contacted Russia, asking for military assistance, but so far Russia has only provided minimal aid. As Christian and Michael at Registan note, what we know is what we don’t know, and conspiracy theories are worming their way outward at a rapid pace.

More pictures of FETs in action (h/t Akinoluna as per usual).

Must read article I haven’t had time to read yet: Dexter Filkin’s portrait of a wavering Karzai.

And–this one is just for you, Chris Albon–the New York Times suddenly discovers there are lucrative minerals in Afghanistan! Which have been a known property for at least thirty years! Shocking. Film at eight.

One Time Too Many

Posted in kyrgyzstan by Karaka on 11 June 2010

Kyrgyzstan erupted in violence late last night, resulting in at least 37 dead in the city of Osh, the second largest city in the nation. It’s not entirely clear what caused the rioting–though Interim President Roza Otunbayeva was quick to suggest Bakiyev loyalists–but Kyrgyzstan is a complex nation (aren’t they all). From the NYT out of Moscow:

But the region’s political conflicts are often laced with ethnic enmity, and some witnesses and local news outlets suggested that the violence started as a fight between groups of young Uzbeks and Kyrgyz, perhaps backed by opposing political forces.

“Everything happened suddenly,” Babur Bolshov, 28, a teacher and ethnic Uzbek, said by telephone. “A group of young Kyrgyz were going around with bottles of gasoline and burning homes where Uzbeks live and kiosks and supermarkets owned by Uzbeks.”

Gunfire and violence caused the interim government to declare a state of emergency and send in troops enforce peace and curfew for residents; Otunbayeva give a appeal to cease conflict alongside these efforts.

In one sense, it’s a little reassuring to see that the interim government has a handle on government services and can work to effectively utilize and enforce them; on the other, violence with these consequences so soon after the April riots does not speak well of its handle on its people. The numbers of dead and wounded have risen throughout the day; the likelihood of ethnic conflict continuing (which this probably is) remains high going into the weekend.

ETA: For more see Registan.

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