European Parliament celebrates Nawrúz

Although not an official holiday of the European Union, that didn’t stop the European Parliament in Brussels from partying hard to commemorate Nawrúz this year. My friend and colleague Kawa Ahangari, a Kurdish secularist/federalist activist from Iran, has provided NewEurasia with a cache of photos from the event, which saw representatives from across the Iranian-Central Asian world, from Azerbaijan and Iraqi Kurdistan in the west to Tajikistan in the east.

Nasiba Abdullaeva delivers Daniel Pearl’s message of tolerance

On October 5, 2012, the U.S. Embassy Tashkent observed the 11th Daniel Pearl World Music Days featuring Nasiba Abdullaeva, famous Uzbek singer, and Ofarin dance theatre. This was the third time the U.S. mission to Uzbekistan hosted the annual event with a goal to spread the universal power of music in building tolerance and peace. Daniel Pearl was an American journalist, Chief of the South Asia Bureau of the Wall Street Journal, and kidnapped and severely killed in February 2002 while reporting in Pakistan on alleged links between “shoe bomber” Richard Reid and al Qaeda. Daniel was a talented musician…

An Impossible Dream

As part of Blogging Action Day, NewEurasia and Oxfam share the story of Arzu Cabbarova, an Azeri woman who overcame personal tragedy in order to set up several organizations that empower women to earn their own income. This is a special guest post from Arzu Geybullayeva, author of “Flying Carpets and Broken Pipelines”.

Why Eurovision in Azerbaijan is Ultimately a Good Thing

This is a partner post from the Editor’s Notes blog at Kanal PIK TV, click here for more from Kanal PIK By Nicholas Alan Clayton Dictatorships do not like the spotlight. For all the state media bombast and extravagant events that autocratic regimes love to feed their own people, the last thing they are interested in is having hundreds of prying foreign eyes digging into the realities that their propaganda glosses over. Even if only a small portion of their population sees foreign news reports, despots would prefer the international press ignore their countries altogether. They keep visa restrictions high,…

Will there be a “Eurasian Spring”? No and yes

Last week I gave a lecture at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven on whether or not an “Arab Spring”-style revolution could happen in Eurasia and more specifically in Azerbaijan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. My answer was: probably not in the immediate term (say, before five to seven years from now) and not as part of a “chain reaction” from the current Arab Spring. In the long term, some of the regimes will bite the dust, however. The reason for the both likelihoods is actually the same: a combination of youth bulge, social mobility and delayed/stunted social change, modern ICT penetration, and rigidifying…

Azerbaijan: A New Front in Iran-Israel Rivalry

Editor’s note: Originally posted by Nima Khorrami Assl at NewEurasia partner site, Kanal PIK. Notwithstanding its religious, cultural, and historical links with Iran, the Republic of Azerbaijan has had a difficult relation with its southern neighbour since its independence in 1991. Antagonised by Tehran’s support for Armenia during the 1992-1994 war and suspicious of Iran’s meddling in its internal affairs, Baku has sought to counter the ‘Iranian threat’ by forging closer ties to Israel. This, in turn, has eroded whatever room that used to exist for improvement of ties between the two states, and therefore it is no exaggeration to claim…

Caspian Quandary

Laying a gas transit route across the Caspian bed from the Azeri coast to the shores of Turkmenistan, with all its hydrocarbon wealth, remains an exciting prospect for energy-hungry Europe and one that grows tantalisingly near with the passing of time. Arguably, this vague sense of looming achievement is the artefact of Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, whose openness to dialogue and negotiation has dangled the possibility of a breakthrough on gas deliveries that could see the West rid of Russian energy hegemony. Consider his promise to EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner that Ashgabat would supply the European Union with…

A breakthrough in the Turkmen-Azerbaijani talks

On 5 March Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan made an important step towards the normalization of mutual relations that had been very tense under Turkmenbashi rule. Representatives meeting for the third time in just two months achieved a breakthrough on a 16-year debt dispute on March 5, providing a glimmer of hope to proponents of a trans-Caspian pipeline that would bring Turkmen natural gas to Europe without crossing Russian or Iranian territory. Under the deal, Turkmenistan will reportedly receive by the end of the year nearly $45 million of the $56 million it claims it has been owed for gas supplies since…

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