Challenging Fundamentalist Ideology In Democratic Arena

Political theology and literature

—Ahmad Ali Khalid

The surrender of religious interpretation to reactionary clerics has opened a vacuum for conservatives and violent extremists to thrive. There are few clerics in Pakistan who have made any authoritative study into human rights theory and philosophy and translated this successfully to the public sphere at large

The exchange and competition of ideas happens through mediums, they do not appear in a social vacuum and literature is one of the most important mediums for the propagation of ideas.

It is clear that the major genre of literature in Pakistan is of a religious nature. Pakistani liberals cannot shy away from the fact that religion defines the consciousness of the people. The radicalisation of Pakistani society by religious groups producing, on a mass scale, literature about politics and civic values such as the validity of tolerance underlies this fact even further. People in Pakistan do read; what they read is of a religious nature and the use of language is cosmic not secular. The growing phenomenon of jihadi cyber media and publications further illustrates how radicals and extremists can tap into this religious sentimentality to further their discourse of political theology.

The answer lies in the language and the importance of critical and rigorous engagement with the religious traditions of Islam. Political ideology is concerned with goals and visions and the method to achieve them. It is quintessentially a normative thought process, discussing how things ought to be. It is a disparate and diverse corpus and tradition of thought, with excursions in multiple domains of human activity and intellectual endeavour whether it is science or economics. Hence, it is markedly different from political theology. Political theology is the interaction of political philosophy and faith; it is where a framework of scriptural hermeneutics defines political ethics and morality.

Hence, the whole conceptual scheme of pitting ‘conservative Islamists’ with ‘progressive liberal secularists’ is a false one. There are liberal Islamists, conservative Islamists and radical Islamists. Since Islamism in itself is an expression of political theology, it can have various persuasions, for instance the Tunisian Rashid al-Ghannouchi is considered a liberal Islamist, while the AKP Party in Turkey is considered Islamist but has introduced multiple democratic and social transformations that can be seen as liberal. Hence it can be quite alienating to many Muslim communities to equivocate Islamism with violent extremism. Be that as it may, conservative proponents of political theology are more media savvy, mobile and tend to be better at communicating their ideas to societies at large from the grassroots up than their liberal and reformist counterparts.

On the question of why, in Pakistan, there is no viable mainstream discourse of liberal political theology, the answer remains that the Left and liberals, while lamenting the loss of the secular paradise Jinnah was meant to have propagated, have abdicated and surrendered religious discourse to the conservatives. Pakistani governments have always made concessions to accommodate the religious right in all matters, including the repeal of discriminatory laws. The surrender of religious interpretation to reactionary clerics has opened a vacuum for conservatives and violent extremists to thrive. There are few clerics in Pakistan who have made any authoritative study into human rights theory and philosophy, argued for a liberal position of respecting rights in terms of equality and discriminatory practices and translated this successfully to the public sphere at large.

Whereas conservatives frequently publish pamphlets and manuals denouncing concepts such as human rights and democracy, arguing for a crass cultural and ethical relativism, liberals have been trying to accommodate this rather than directly challenging the weak religious foundations of this political theology. In Pakistan the puritanical strains of religious tradition are dictating political norms and they remain unchallenged in terms of counter liberal political theologies. It is no good to simply quote a few Quranic verses and have a piecemeal application and utilitarian use of religious rhetoric to combat this phenomenon; a deep and critical engagement with the religious tradition is needed to produce new hermeneutical, ethical and political frameworks. This can only be done through the printed word.

For Pakistani liberals to have a truly transformational effect, they need to speak in the religious idiom and bring to the table a rigorous and charismatic theology of liberality. It is critical to talk about the arts, Urdu literature and the humanities but not as a hope that it will act as a creative buffer against radicalisation. The real buffer against terrorism with a religious impulse is a culture of religious tolerance and pluralism borne out of a unique theology of liberality in combination with these aforementioned disciplines.

Examples of liberal theology, the use of the religious tradition to cultivate democratic sensibilities and cherishment of tolerance and diversity do exist among Muslim intellectuals. Unfortunately, their presence is being felt mainly in traditionally non-Muslim societies in the US and Europe. There is an issue of outspoken religious liberals being exiled or forced out from their own countries due to their writings such as Nasr Abu Zayd in Egypt, Abdul Karim Soroush in Iran or the late Professor Fazlur Rahman in Pakistan. These are the theologians and religious intellectuals who call for greater democracy, tolerance and pluralism, but do so from within the religious tradition which is why their voices are more potent than say the secular left who try and locate these same concepts but in a foreign idiom. That is not to say that one should reject an idea on the basis of its origin. However, this is the reality of social and political discourse in Muslim societies.

Conservatives and the right cannot alone determine social, political or cultural norms, since they have a second hand and superficial grasp of the complex and interconnected issues associated with the establishment of such norms. Hence, there is a requirement for Muslim intellectuals in other traditions to contribute to the process of religious interpretation. In short, a reintroduction of critical rationalism back into the jurisprudential and ethical-legal traditions of Islam has been one of the defining contours of the projects of these intellectuals.

In short, liberals need to break the monopoly conservatives have over religious discourse in Pakistan. Liberals and progressives should not concede religious discourse to conservatives. Rather, they should reclaim the arena of religious interpretation and challenge these conservative political theologies. In order to move from the fanaticism and intolerance that brings about so much bloodshed, we can draw on our own religious traditions, such as the Prophet’s (PBUH) saying, “The ink of the scholar is more sacred than the blood of the martyr.” Moving from jihad to ijtihad is needed to shape a religiosity that endorses rationalism, pluralism and diversity.

The writer is a student at the Royal Grammar School, Newcastle Upon Tyne, England

Russia won’t immediately send troops to Kyrgyzstan

[It is not in Russia's interests at this time, to intervene militarily in Kyrgyzstan.  Russia's allies, the Uzbeks have been the target of ethnic cleansing, but that apparently is no reason to help-out.  Russia's allies, the Uzbek govt., has stopped the flow of US materiel to Afghanistan.  The world is getting sick and tired of American and Russian mind games.]

Russia won’t immediately send troops to Kyrgyzstan

By D. Dalton Bennett, AP
Ethnic Uzbek gather near the Kyrgyz-Uzbek border in southern Kyrgyzstan, on Saturday, trying to seek refuge in Uzbekistan from mobs of Kyrgyz men attacking the minority Uzbek community.
BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan (AP) — Kyrgyzstanasked Russia for military help Saturday to quell ethnic rioting in the central Asian nation, but the Kremlin refused to immediately send troops and offered only humanitarian assistance. Nearly 70 people were reported killed and 945 wounded in the violence.

Interim President Roza Otunbayeva acknowledged that her government has lost control over the south as its main city of Osh, the country’s second largest, slid further into chaos and thousands of minority Uzbeks fled to the border. Her government sent troops and armor into the city of 250,000, but they have failed to stop the rampage.

Otunbayeva asked Russia early Saturday to send in troops, but the Kremlin responded that it wouldn’t meddle into what it described as Kyrgyzstan’s internal conflict.

“It’s a domestic conflict, and Russia now doesn’t see conditions for taking part in its settlement,” Kremlin spokeswoman Natalya Timakova said in Moscow without elaborating. She added in a statement that Russia will consult other members of a security pact of ex-Soviet nations on the possibility of sending a joint peacekeeping force to Kyrgyzstan.

Timakova said the government would send a plane to Kyrgyzstan to deliver humanitarian supplies and help evacuate the victims of the violence.

Kyrgyzstan hosts both U.S. and Russian military air bases, but they are in the north. Russia has about 500 troops there, mostly air force personnel, and would have to airlift more if it decides to help. The United States has the Manas air base in the capital, Bishkek, that is a crucial supply hub for the coalition fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan, but it was not known if interim government had asked for any U.S. military help.

Much of central Osh was on fire Saturday, and the sky was black with smoke. Gangs of young Kyrgyz men armed with firearms and metal bars marched on minority Uzbek neighborhoods and set homes on fire. Stores were looted and the city was running out of food.

Thousands of terrified ethnic Uzbeks were rushing toward the nearby border with Uzbekistan. An Associated Press reporter there saw the bodies of children killed in the panicky stampede.

“The situation in the Osh region has spun out of control,” Otunbayeva told reporters. “Attempts to establish a dialogue have failed, and fighting and rampages are continuing. We need outside forces to quell confrontation.”

The unrest is the worst violence since former President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was toppled in a bloody uprising in April and fled the country. It comes as a crucial test of the interim government’s ability to control the country, hold a June 27 vote on a new constitution and go ahead with new parliamentary elections scheduled for October.

Otunbayeva on Saturday blamed Bakiyev’s family for instigating the unrest in Osh, saying they aimed to derail the constitutional referendum.

Ethnic tensions have long simmered in the Ferghana Valley, split by whimsically carved borders among Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan that were drawn up on Soviet dictator Josef Stalin‘s orders. In 1990, hundreds of people were killed in a violent land dispute between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in Osh, and only the quick deployment of Soviet troops quelled the fighting.

The official toll rose Saturday to at least 69 people dead and 945 wounded, the Health Ministry said. The real figures may be much higher because doctors and human rights workers said ethnic Uzbeks were too afraid to seek hospital treatment.

At a hospital in the Nariman district, near Osh airport, an AP photographer saw the bodies of 10 people killed in fighting, and a health worker said a pregnant woman also died after being unsuccessfully treated for gunshot wounds.

In mainly Uzbek areas on the edge of Osh, residents painted the letters “SOS” on the road in a futile bid for help.

Otunbayeva said there were food shortages in Osh after virtually all stores were looted or shut. A state of emergency was declared around Osh and the government sent armored vehicles, troops and helicopters to pacify fighting that erupted late Thursday. Fighting quieted down Friday night but resumed with new strength Saturday.

“Young men in white masks are marauding and stealing from the remaining stores, offices and houses, and then setting them on fire,” said Bakyt Omorkulov, a member of the Coalition for Democracy and Civil Society, a non-governmental organization.

Omorkulov said ethnic Uzbeks called to say their houses were on fire and they were terrified. “They called us and were sobbing into the phone, but what can we do?” Omorkulov said.

From the Osh airport, where hundreds of arriving passengers were stranded, fire from heavy machine guns and automatic weapons was heard as troops tried to gain control of roads into the city.

Omurbek Suvanaliyev, a leader of the Ata-Zhurt political party that tried to organize local militia, said the warring parties even used armored vehicles in fighting.

“It’s a real war,” he said. “Everything is burning, and bodies are lying on the streets.”

Police and residents said young Kyrgyz men with metal bars and guns were streaming into Osh by road from other parts of the country and marching toward Uzbek neighborhoods.

At one border crossing, a crowd of refugees, mostly women and children, fashioned improvised flimsy bridges out of planks and ladders to traverse the ditches marking the border.

Additional reinforcements were arriving at the Osh airport, including 100 elite police officers from Bishkek. “Our task is to restore the constitutional order,” said the group’s leader Nur Mambetaliyev.

Turkmenistan proposes to hold inter-Afghani peace talks under UN aegis

Turkmenistan proposes to hold inter-Afghani peace talks under UN aegis

Turkmenistan, Baku, June 12 / Trend H. Hasanov /
“The Turkmen side is ready to provide its own political space to hold inter-Afghani peace talks under UN aegis, as well as necessary conditions for such a process,” Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhammedov said at the meeting of the Council of SCO member-states, observer-countries and distinguished guests.

“We stand for peaceful settlement of the situation in Afghanistan. It means the development of new political and diplomatic mechanisms for resolving the Afghan problem,” he said, recalling that United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy Central Asia was opened in December 2007 in Ashgabat.

“Afghanistan is our neighbor and friend. That is why we always pay great attention to the difficult issues related to Afghanistan. We support international efforts to bring peace and security in Afghanistan, the reconstruction of the socio-economic infrastructure,” he said.

Berdimuhammedov noted that Turkmenistan will continue to assist the Afghan people, primarily in the humanitarian sphere, in the construction of social infrastructure, supplies of electricity and fuel. It is a concrete contribution to the economic development of Afghanistan.

“Being deeply interested in establishing reliable guarantees of universal peace and security, Turkmenistan is considering the strengthening of stability in the Central Asian and Caspian regions, and of course in Afghanistan as one of the main priorities,” he stressed.

“Turkmenistan’s foreign policy remains unchanged. It follows the fundamental principles of positive neutrality, carries out a strategic partnership for global peace, progress and creative development with all countries and competent international organizations, including SCO.

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U.S strives to improve relations with Azerbaijan by reconsidering its foreign political positions

Experts: U.S strives to improve relations with Azerbaijan by reconsidering its foreign political positions

Azerbaijan, Baku, June 9 / Trend E. Tariverdiyeva /

The Administration of the White House intends to establish relations with Azerbaijan, deteriorated last year, recognizing the importance of the country as a strategic partner in the region, experts said.

“Azerbaijan can expect the U.S to make strong efforts to improve relations given the need for Azeri support in the continuing nine-year-long war in Afghanistan possibly reaching its climax, as well as Azerbaijan’s geostrategic location regarding oil and possible membership in NATO,” U.S expert on South Caucasus, professor of political science at Tennessee Technological University, Michael Gunter, said.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates brought a letter from Barack Obama addressed to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev during his visit to Baku June 6-7.

The head of the White House thanked the Azerbaijani leader for supporting of the peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan, and expressed hope for expanding and intensifying of the Azerbaijani-U.S ties.

“The United States recognize the important contribution of Azerbaijan in ensuring regional and international security. I hope that we will be able to broaden and deepen our relations in the next months and years,” the letter said.

Gates also told about U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s expected visit to Baku.
The relations between the U.S. and Azerbaijan have significantly deteriorated after Washington insisted on opening of the Turkish-Armenian border without considering the interests of Azerbaijan. The U.S. Congress’s provision of humanitarian assistance to Nagorno-Karabakh to the amount of $8 million added fuel to the fire.

A resolution on so-called “genocide” of Armenians in March 2010 adopted by the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs played another negative role in the deterioration of the complex relations between Washington and Baku.
Experts said that after the failure of the Armenian-Turkish process, lobbied by the United States, Washington has revised some foreign political positions. It is now trying to mend relations with Baku.

The Obama letter, Biden and Clinton visits, and Bryza appointment are all part of the effort to improve U.S-Azeri relations, U.S expert on South Caucasus and Turkey, Professor of Government and Politics, Department of Public and International Affairs, Mark N. Katz, said.

The Obama Administration that its previous effort to improve Turkish-U.S relations would lead to an improvement in Azeri-Armenian relations as well.  This, of course, did not occur, he said.

“The Obama Administration now understands that Azerbaijan needs to be included in the diplomatic effort, Katz told Trend via e-mail.

Azerbaijani political analyst Tofig Abbasov said that the U.S. definitely deals with restoration of shaky relations with Azerbaijan.
It is a paradox that the U.S lost much from the suspended state bonds, he said.
“I would say that their positions rapidly weaken in the Eurasian space. In case of loss of Azerbaijan, Americans can lose not only a major transit link, but also a partner with a positive image, which functionally affects the geopolitical situation in the region,” “Lider-TV” analytic group expert Tofig Abbasov toldTrend.
It is too bad that Washington made attempts to rein Azerbaijan, although the country does not deserve such a treatment, he said.

All of this means a more balanced U.S position regarding Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh, Gunter said.

“The U.S appointment of Matthew Bryza further indicates the importance the U.S now places on Azerbaijan as Bryza is most knowledgeable concerning the post-Soviet situation,” Gunter told Trend via e-mail.

Improvement of relations between Azerbaijan and Georgia is connected with a gradual reconsideration of some of foreign political actions by the United States that were taken during Barack Obama’s administration in the White House at first, former Russian ambassador to Azerbaijan, deputy executive director of the Foundation “Russian world” Vasiliy Istratov said.
Istratov said that not all actions of the Obama administration were ready for enduring the test of time in long-term-prospect.

Now the Obama administration has to gradually re-from. The changes that occur in the relations of Azerbaijan and the U.S. are not associated with certain actions of Baku, but with Washington’s position, in which a realistic interpretation of events prevailed, Istratov said.

“Many questions which the Obama administration wanted to solve by Cavalry raids on the international scene, not solved. For this reason, they return to certain basic points,” – he said.

Time will tell how much one can derive benefit for the South Caucasus region, Istratov said.

Experts said that Azerbaijan began to play a large role for the U.S. and because of deteriorating relations between Ankara and Washington.

Just as importantly, with the deterioration in Turkish-American relations that has occurred, improving U.S-Azeri relations now appears to be both more urgent and more achievable than improving U.S-Turkish relations, Katz said.

Abbasov said that the U.S. really in a position to influence the improvement of the situation in the Caucasus region by pressing on Armenia for it to cease speculating by the myth of “genocide” and return to its former pre-war borders.
“Washington has all the tools and capabilities that include parallelization of efforts with Russia, France and other countries,” he said.
He said that such a development will benefit not only Azerbaijan, but also the mediating countries, as recovery of the great powers’ image lies through healthy and mediation.
Experts said that improvement degree of relations between the U.S. and Azerbaijan depends on many factors.

Katz said that whether the U.S effort to improve relations with Azerbaijan will succeed, very much depends on whether the leadership in both countries want it to succeed enough to work at it, Katz said.

It is possible that the U.S-Azeri relationship will now improve, but this is not inevitable, he said.

Therefore, if Azerbaijan is interested, its relations with the U.S stand to improve considerably in the near future, Gunter said.

However, Russia will certainly watch this development very closely, Gunter said.

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Turkey at the Crossroads of Neo-Ottomanism and Neo-Liberalism

[Will Turkey throw its weight behind visions of a “Middle East Union,” or remain faithful to the complex dreams of a "Greater Middle East"? ]

Sevil KÜÇÜKKOŞUM
ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News

Increasing economic integration between Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan has prompted visions of a new “Middle East Union” to rival the EU, but Turkish officials have taken pains to downplay the idea.

“It would be more accurate to call it a regional-cooperation model rather than a union,” diplomatic sources told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review on Friday. In describing what he has in mind, however, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu seems to be talking about something more than mere regional cooperation.

“From Kars in Turkey, to Morocco and Mauritania, from Sinop in Turkey to Sudan, from the Bosphorus to the Gulf of Aden, Turkish and Arab geographies own the most strategic belt in the world,” Davutoğlu said at the Turkish-Arab Cooperation Forum held Thursday in Istanbul, expanding on the idea of the current cooperation. “We want to turn it into a security and economic-integration belt.”

The foreign minister’s reference to a region ruled for centuries by the Ottoman Empire may reignite debate about whether the Turkish government is pursuing a policy of neo-Ottomanism and shifting its gaze away from its tradition Western orientation.

A change in foreign-policy direction was rejected by top members of the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, on Friday, with Parliament Speaker Mehmet Ali Şahin saying there had been no change in the country’s policies and that “Turkey is not going anywhere.”

Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan have announced an agreement on integrating their economies through creating free-trade zones in a borderless region. The four countries have also agreed to set up a joint council for cooperation, which other countries may be able to join in the future.

“There are some other countries in the region planning to join this cooperation, but it is better for them to announce [their decisions] themselves,” diplomatic sources said.

This High-Level Quadruple Council will convene at the prime ministerial level every year, but ministers will collaborate more frequently, meeting four times a year under a rotating group president system. The mechanism is expected to enhance the economic cooperation between the countries. Turkey already has free-trade agreements with Syria and Jordan and negotiations for a trade agreement with Lebanon are being formulated.

The announcement of the new alliance came amid Turkey’s symbolic disengagement from Europe and the United States, demonstrated this week in its vote against the U.S.-backed sanctions on Iran. But Davutoğlu stressed that the zone of free movement of goods and people should not be considered an attempt to create an alternative to the European Union.

Experts drew attention to the fact that the AKP has implemented policies to boost economic ties with its neighbors and the Arab world since the party came to power in 2002.

“It will be beneficial for the global integration of these regional economies. Engagement of these countries with Turkey will serve not only the global economy but will also contribute to the stability in the region,” Güven Sak, the director of the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey, or TEPAV, told the Daily News.

Turkey, a potential member of the EU with a strong interest in the direction of the European bloc, would not want to establish “a kind of a ‘Middle East Union. Turkey may merely be a gate for Western investment actors to enter the region,” Sak said.

“There will be more moves regarding economic affairs. Since Turkey’s economy is stronger, other countries will benefit more from this cooperation,” Muharrem Hilmi Özel, a Middle East expert for the Turkish Asian Center for Strategic Studies, or TASAM, told the Daily News. “But stronger economic ties with Turkey will also provide these countries with a closer political proximity to Ankara.”

Since the AKP came to power, Turkey’s exports to its Muslim neighbors have increased sharply. Exports to non-Arabic Iran have grown 500 percent since 2002, while trade between Turkey and all 22 members of the Arab League has more than doubled over the past five years, reaching 24.7 billion euros annually. In 2009, Turkey exported $1.4 billion worth of goods to Syria and $690 million worth to Lebanon.

Two BSO-Azad activists gunned down in Khuzdar

[These motorcycle riding terrorists with maching guns attacked within sight of two FC outposts.]

Two BSO-Azad activists gunned down in Khuzdar

The Baloch Hal News

KHUZDAR: Two activists of Baloch Students Organization (BSO-Azad) were shot dead and another seriously wounded in Khuzdar, some 320 kilometers on southeast of the provincial capital on Friday.

The  BSO has announced a complete shutter down strike throughout Khuzdar district on Saturday (today) against the incident.

According to sources, unidentified armed men riding a motorbike sprayed volley of bullets at shop with sophisticated weapons in Koshk area of Khuzdar and managed to flee the scene. Resultantly, Abdul Sattar, Bebarg and Mehran workers of BSO, aging 20 to 25 sustained bullets wounds and rushed to the hospital, where doctors pronounced Abdul Sattar and Bebarg dead.

Sources said that two check posts of Frontier Corps were also set up close to the site where the said incident occurred, however, the attackers easily escaped after firing on the shop.

A large number of people, including former Tehsil Nazim National Party Asif Jamaldini and district general secretary of Balochistan National Party (Mengal) Javed Balochistan rushed to hospital as the news of killing of youngsters spread in Khuzdar.

Meanwhile, spokesman of BSO Khuzdar zone in a statement has strongly condemned the killing and injuring of its activists and announced a complete shutter down strike in Khuzdar district on Saturday (today).

Peace Groups Permanently Shut Down Army Experience Center in Philadelphia

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PETER TOBIA / File Photograph
Army Capt. Jared Auchey (center) in a humvee simulator with Gumersindo Vidot (left), 26, and Charles Hopkins, 29, at the Army Experience Center at Franklin Mills in 2008.

Victory: Peace Groups Permanently Shut Down Army Experience Center in Philadelphia

Army announcement made just days before planned protest. Several large demonstrations, non-violent civil resistance and regular vigils contributed to its demise.

WASHINGTON – June 11 – Franklin Mills Mall, Philadelphia, PA – A coalition of thirty peace groups has proven triumphant in their goal of forever shutting down the “Army Experience Center” in a suburban shopping mall in Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported today that the Army plans to permanently close the facility. http://www.philly.com/philly/news/local/96031939.html

After almost two years of glorifying the “Army experience” and U.S. wars through video and war games, the Army Experience Center at Franklin Mills Malls announced it will shut down on July 31, 2010.  The $13 million, 14,500 square foot Army Experience Center at Franklin Mills Mall boasts dozens of video game computers and X-Box video game consoles with various interactive, military-style shooting games.  The facility has sophisticated Apache helicopter and Humvee simulators that allow teens to simulate the killing of Arabs and Afghans.  Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Rob Watson compared the Army Experience Center to “a heavy dose of candy cigarettes.”

Dozens of local and national peace groups joined the “Shut Down the Army Experience Center” effort in January 2009, soon after the heavily marketed Center got national press coverage.  The mall was the site of several protests of hundreds of people, with more than a dozen arrests.

Six of those arrested were acquitted by a Philadelphia trial judge on May 24, 2010, and prior to that at a trial last year, six arrested were also acquitted.

Elaine Brower, one of those arrested twice, whose son joined the Marines at age 17 and served three tours in Afghanistan & Iraq, became a vocal opponent of the AEC.  She said today, “This is a victory for the entire peace and anti-war movement.  The team work and coalition building that was accomplished led to our success.  We were relentless in our struggle to shut this center down, and we did it strategically.  As they say, a people united will never be defeated!”

When the center opened the Army announced it was designed as a pilot program and would decide whether to launch them nationally. As recently as August 2009, however, Jared Auchey, Company Commander at Franklin Mills, was boasting of the center’s “success” and claiming others were being planned.

Former US Army SSgt. Jesse Hamilton, now a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, stated today, “By portraying war as a game, the AEC glorified violence to our children and disrespected those soldiers who gave their lives in combat.  As a combat veteran, nothing makes me happier than to know that the AEC will no longer have the ability to corrupt our children’s minds and disrespect our deceased war heroes.”

Bill Deckhart, Coordinator of the BuxMont Coalition for Peace Action stated, “I am just elated.  Being a peace activist we don’t get a lot of wins so we must savor this victory.  There’s still lots of work to do and we need to help create a world that can be peaceful and does not need to think about military recruiters and sending people to kill or be killed for corporate profits.”

The Army is planning an official announcement today and a news conference tomorrow, before another large demonstration planned for Saturday.
http://afterdowningstreet.org/node/53064

The coalition to Shut Down the Army Experience Center involved BuxMont Coalition for Peace Action, Veterans for Peace, Brandywine Peace Community, Iraq Veterans Against the War, CODEPINK, Granny Peace Brigade, Peace Action Montgomery, Peace Action National, NorthWest Greens, Woodstock Peace and Justice, Pax Christi Long Island & Pennsylvania, Military Families Speak Out/NYC, Delaware Valley Veterans For America and World Can’t Wait.

“Greater Middle East” gradually becoming a reality

[The great illusion of Turkey is the hype about the meaning of its new role with Iran and Russia, when the truth is that it is an empty shell.  It appears to oppose the geostrategic planners with new sources of resistance, but it is based on false hope.  With Iran, like with Russia, the new arrangements have no possibility of becoming real, but they have the appearance that they could work, thus giving hope.  Any resistance to plans for world conquest represented by the conundrum of Turkey, is false resistance, meant to lead real resisters onto a dead end path.]

“Greater Middle East” gradually becoming a reality

Karine Ter-Sahakyan / PanARMENIAN News

No matter how strongly the Government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan may support the current administration of Ayatollah Khamenei, Tehran simply does not believe it and would not admit even the thought of Turkey being representative of the Muslim world.

“Greater Middle East” is gradually becoming a reality. The struggle for the place of a regional power between Turkey and Iran, both bordering with Armenia, has slipped “under the carpet”, and let no one be caught at the support that Erdogan gives to the nuclear program of Iran. Armenia, in this case, must build relations with its neighbors, based on the belief “my enemy’s enemy is my friend”. And though this system sometimes fails, it works in general, and it will work in case of Armenia, especially since the relations were unruffled, and became even better after certain incidents. Similarly, the Israeli-Turkish relations may smoothly grow into Armenian-Israeli. But in the latter case there is still a long way to go.

June 11, 2010

PanARMENIAN.Net – Relations with Iran are good in general and have a tendency to expand, particularly in the energy sector. Iran has already built two small hydropower plants on the Araks River; the Iran-Armenia pipeline, built within the program of diversification of energy supplies to Armenia, is successfully completed. Construction of a petroleum refinery in Southern Armenia (Meghri) is in the design phase. Feasibility study was carried out by Russian and Armenian specialists. The two countries have had no hard or bloody past, and the Armenian community in Iran, amounting to about 200,000 people, enjoys the locals’ respect. In the Karabakh issue Iran is neutral, but she is always ready to offer her services as a mediator. However, Iran cannot become an OSCE Minsk Group member, and, consequently, she cannot be an intermediary. Yet, it must be admitted that with Iran’s support there would have been registered some progress in this issue. Let us not forget that Iran is in rather difficult relations with neighboring Azerbaijan, which lays claims to the province of Southern Azerbaijan, and believes that it is her territory. Despite the positive statements by Azerbaijani officials about the “excellent relations with the friendly Islamic country”, everything is not actually so rosy. Azerbaijan’s territorial claims, coupled with the controversial status of the Caspian Sea could seriously damage relations between these two countries. In addition, Azerbaijan with extreme nervousness responds to the Armenian-Iranian relations, considering them as treacherous on the part of the Islamic country.

As for Armenia, she needs normal relations with Iran, as the latter is one of the two land routes linking the country with the outer world. The Iranian route is longer but safer than the Georgian one. On the other hand, friendship with Iran is now a bit problematic because of the nuclear program. However, according to U.S. diplomats in Yerevan, the United States realizes the importance of Iran for Armenia (in blockade) and therefore regards the Armenian-Iranian relations with favour.

There is another equally important aspect in Iran’s ambition to become a regional power: Islamism. The Islamic Republic believes that she should be the advocate of Islam in the region, and no one can replace her in this issue. Supported by Saudi Arabia, Turkey also seeks dominance in the region and gradually parts with secularism, thus rivaling Tehran. However, Iran simply will not allow such a turn of events. No matter how strongly the Government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan may support the current administration of Ayatollah Khamenei and how hard it may try to persuade Tehran that it respects Islamic values, Tehran simply does not believe it and would not admit even the thought of Turkey being representative of the Muslim world. The recent story of Free Gaza, which, at large, was meant to win the affection of the Arab world and show it that Islam for Ankara is more important than a close relationship with Israel, highlighted a number of problems that Turkey has with the Arab world, despite the fact that Erdogan solemnly declared: “The Turk cannot live without the Arab”. Nevertheless, however sad it might be for Ankara, Hamas has already refused her services, stressing that it prefers to deal only with Egypt.

At first sight, Turkey is in normal relations with all the neighbors – from “brotherly” to “neutral”. But the Turkish-Azerbaijani alliance believes that Armenia, in particular, must leave the security zone around the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and give up the process of international recognition of the Armenian Genocide. The reality is that it is still too early to speak of normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations, and there are several reasons for it. There are serious internal political processes going in Turkey. The state of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has deteriorated after the scandalous resignation of major opposition member Deniz Baykal, as new leader of the Republican People’s Party Kemal Kilicdaroglu is determined, if not to win the elections next year, at least to reduce the number of deputies from the AKP. Premier Erdogan is obviously losing popularity, and in this respect improved relations with Armenia would be fatal for him. Turkish opposition, which is already unhappy with the foreign and domestic policy of Turkey, could easily dethrone the unwanted premier. However, hardly will the army intervene this time, since the Prime Minister has taken care to gain the ear of most of the military. But Turkey is a country quite unpredictable in some issues, and what will happen after the referendum on September 12 is difficult to predict.

Saudi Arabia gives Israel clear skies to attack Iranian nuclear sites

Hugh Tomlinson

Saudi Arabia has conducted tests to stand down its air defences to enable Israeli jets to make a bombing raid on Iran’s nuclear facilities, The Times can reveal.

In the week that the UN Security Council imposed a new round of sanctions on Tehran, defence sources in the Gulf say that Riyadh has agreed to allow Israel to use a narrow corridor of its airspace in the north of the country to shorten the distance for a bombing run on Iran.

To ensure the Israeli bombers pass unmolested, Riyadh has carried out tests to make certain its own jets are not scrambled and missile defence systems not activated. Once the Israelis are through, the kingdom’s air defences will return to full alert.

“The Saudis have given their permission for the Israelis to pass over and they will look the other way,” said a US defence source in the area. “They have already done tests to make sure their own jets aren’t scrambled and no one gets shot down. This has all been done with the agreement of the [US] State Department.”

Sources in Saudi Arabia say it is common knowledge within defence circles in the kingdom that an arrangement is in place if Israel decides to launch the raid. Despite the tension between the two governments, they share a mutual loathing of the regime in Tehran and a common fear of Iran’s nuclear ambitions. “We all know this. We will let them [the Israelis] through and see nothing,” said one.

The four main targets for any raid on Iran would be the uranium enrichment facilities at Natanz and Qom, the gas storage development at Isfahan and the heavy-water reactor at Arak. Secondary targets include the lightwater reactor at Bushehr, which could produce weapons-grade plutonium when complete.

The targets lie as far as 1,400 miles (2,250km) from Israel; the outer limits of their bombers’ range, even with aerial refuelling. An open corridor across northern Saudi Arabia would significantly shorten the distance. An airstrike would involve multiple waves of bombers, possibly crossing Jordan, northern Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Aircraft attacking Bushehr, on the Gulf coast, could swing beneath Kuwait to strike from the southwest.

Passing over Iraq would require at least tacit agreement to the raid from Washington. So far, the Obama Administration has refused to give its approval as it pursues a diplomatic solution to curbing Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Military analysts say Israel has held back only because of this failure to secure consensus from America and Arab states. Military analysts doubt that an airstrike alone would be sufficient to knock out the key nuclear facilities, which are heavily fortified and deep underground or within mountains. However, if the latest sanctions prove ineffective the pressure from the Israelis on Washington to approve military action will intensify. Iran vowed to continue enriching uranium after the UN Security Council imposed its toughest sanctions yet in an effort to halt the Islamic Republic’s nuclear programme, which Tehran claims is intended for civil energy purposes only. President Ahmadinejad has described the UN resolution as “a used handkerchief, which should be thrown in the dustbin”.

Israeli officials refused to comment yesterday on details for a raid on Iran, which the Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, has refused to rule out. Questioned on the option of a Saudi flight path for Israeli bombers, Aharaon Zeevi Farkash, who headed military intelligence until 2006 and has been involved in war games simulating a strike on Iran, said: “I know that Saudi Arabia is even more afraid than Israel of an Iranian nuclear capacity.”

In 2007 Israel was reported to have used Turkish air space to attack a suspected nuclear reactor being built by Iran’s main regional ally, Syria. Although Turkey publicly protested against the “violation” of its air space, it is thought to have turned a blind eye in what many saw as a dry run for a strike on Iran’s far more substantial — and better-defended — nuclear sites.

Israeli intelligence experts say that Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan are at least as worried as themselves and the West about an Iranian nuclear arsenal.Israel has sent missile-class warships and at least one submarine capable of launching a nuclear warhead through the Suez Canal for deployment in the Red Sea within the past year, as both a warning to Iran and in anticipation of a possible strike. Israeli newspapers reported last year that high-ranking officials, including the former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, have met their Saudi Arabian counterparts to discuss the Iranian issue. It was also reported that Meir Dagan, the head of Mossad, met Saudi intelligence officials last year to gain assurances that Riyadh would turn a blind eye to Israeli jets violating Saudi airspace during the bombing run. Both governments have denied the reports.

First Kyrgyz Govt., Now the Uzbeks Ask Russia To Stop the War

[Russia has both sides right where they want them.  If Russia and the US are really adversaries and not simply actors in an international drama, then Manas will soon close.  But I don't expect that to happen in the real world.]

“We are asking to stop the war!” - Osh ethnic Uzbeks are crying out for help to Russia

06/12/2010 8:57

The evening of 11 June, hundreds of citizens of Kyrgyzstan, located a migrant worker in Moscow, gathered at the home of the Russian government to express its outrage happening in their homeland. Most of them – ethnic Uzbek labor migrants. They stated that in Osh is “Nazi” massacre of civilians and asked for help from the government of Russia. “Our families are with all the children and grandchildren are now in the basement” – asking for help middle-aged woman. - “We ask to stop the war!” The demonstrators asked Russia to mediate in talks with the leadership of Kyrgyzstan, to those provided an opportunity for citizens of Uzbekistan to leave this country.

It quoted a source in law enforcement bodies of the Russian capital transfers “Interfax” agency, these people came to the House Government of Russia in Moscow to ask Russian officials to take part in the fate of their relatives held in Kyrgyzstan. Protesters are not members of any political movement. “Spontaneous action,” – said the source.

The demonstrators asked Russia to mediate in talks with the leadership of Kyrgyzstan, to those provided an opportunity for citizens of Uzbekistan to leave this country.

As is clear from the video frames, assembled – in the majority ethnic Uzbeks. Their anger is clearly directed at the opposing side in communal violence – representatives of Kyrgyz nationality.

“They beteerami all roads blocked, no Uzbeks are not allowed to nowhere” – says Uzbek Anwar. He asked his mother, located in Osh, somehow get to the border with Uzbekistan and move it. “She says: and how we get there?” We just go out on the street – we were immediately killed, “- says Anwar.

“I beat my grandfather. He – the invalid of the second degree. We went home and took everything – car, TV. We wanted to take a niece, rape, miraculously managed to avoid it. They – Natural Nazis,” – said the young guy. “The Uzbek military shoot themselves, even snipers”, – says another.

According to Channel 100 TV, last Friday about fifty people from Kyrgyzstan gathered at the Consulate of the Republic in St. Petersburg. Among them – a lot of ethnic Uzbeks, labor migrants in the northern capital of Russia. They sure: by victims over the past day in Osh is not by tens but by hundreds of people. Some also argue that the violence in Osh are doing men in uniform.

On Friday evening members of the Moscow edition of “Fergany.Ru” tried to contact the Osh to find out what’s going on at the moment. Because of poor communication could reach only up to two people. Judging by the voices, people are overwhelmed and confused.

TK, a resident of the street Kurmandjan Dutka: “The war we have here. All burned – cafes, restaurants, shops, department stores, owned by Uzbeks. Many of the victims, the hospital does not accept casualties. You hear the shots?” With the weapon and then wander without warning shoot. Roads are blocked. We have guarded our homes, but have no weapons, what can we do? At home attack, in Cheryomushki 40 percent of homes burned – all at home Uzbeks. Armour No, if there were so many victims would not be ” .

S., a resident of mahallas Mirzoolim: “We have nothing, they are all-automatic, grenade launchers, armored personnel carriers, army … We do not do anything, they come to us, they shoot, they cut. As in Afghanistan we have here has become . Houses were burning – a Mirzoolime, Furkat. We, the Uzbeks, are doing nothing. Nothing we have not only stones. Something must be done … and we look forward to when we’ll shoot will kill us. sitting at home. And there Shooting is now. “

Humming of passion, and web forums Kyrgyzstan. You receive a lot of contradictory messages, to confirm or refute the veracity of which is not yet possible. “In Furkat (a suburb of Osh) was carved from the fact that people in the crowd shot at Kamaz, and the mob attacked, burned houses. In the morning he is preparing an offensive in Adyr – this village, where only the Uzbeks, 20-30 minutes drive from downtown. There patrols APCs. Uzbeks are empty houses, “- write the visitors one of the most popular Kyrgyz forums.

06/12/2010

Source - White Sail

Uzbek diaspora Osh region of Kyrgyzstan requests safe passage for the removal of children and women

Uzbek diaspora Osh region of Kyrgyzstan requests safe passage for the removal of children and women

06/12/2010 11:39

Uzbek diaspora Osh region of Kyrgyzstan requests safe passage for the removal of children and women

The leaders of the Uzbek diaspora Osh region of Kyrgyzstan interim government asked the country to assist women and children in the crossing of the Kyrgyz-Uzbek border.

“We asked the caretaker government to create a safe corridor in the area of the Kyrgyz-Uzbek border in the PPC Dustlik. We want to ship through the corridor of women and children from the eastern city of Osh,” – said Saturday, “Interfax” the president of the Uzbek national cultural center Dzhallahitdin Zhalilatdinov.

Source - interfax.ru

“International” Brigades In Kyrgyzstan Anti-Uzbek Forces?

[According to the following report, it appears that the nationalist forces engaged in removing Uzbeks from Kyrgyzstan, call themselves "internationalists."  Is this the same bunch of roughnecks that the government has just empowered as a national militia?  Considering the difficulty understanding Google translations of Russian, it is nearly impossible for an outsider to understand the situation on the ground there, but, if I understand the reporter's claims, then this means that there is direct government support for men committed to ethnic cleansing.   SEE:  In Osh, to organize the international people’s militia, says A. Voinov]

Uzbeks in Kyrgyzstan is a country place?

A. Mamasaliev:

Despite the statement by the interim president of Kyrgyzstan Roza Otunbayeva that the situation in Osh brought under control, residents of the city have reported continued firing. The magnitude of the carnage can be judged from the way according to law enforcement agencies, to the place of mass inter-ethnic clashes from different regions of the country pulled together a large number of people.

Ethnic passions glow observed in Kyrgyzstan, can not but worry the public, as Kirghiz, and the world. Admit one thing to know about the slaughter of Uzbeks in Kyrgyzstan’s land through the media, and quite another – when you find yourself directly in the depths of pandemonium when the crowd nicotine Kirghiz ryscha the streets, breaking down the doors of houses Uzbeks, run into them, shouting “Death to Uzbeks’ , felled on the ground first available in the way and beat him with metal rods. At the same time full of joy from the massacre of another Uzbek, are beginning to boast to each other as they brave and strong, and who is more laid Uzbeks.

But the most troubling that for some unknown reasons in the hands of looters was a firearm, which intoxicated the crowd shoot appeared in the street Uzbeks.
This is how to hate, to kill the baby just for the fact that he is not Kirghiz. How to be a monster to blow Fixtures brain Uzbek woman, only for the fact that she tried to hide her husband in the basement …

It is noteworthy that the interim president of Kyrgyzstan Roza Otunbaeva nevertheless acknowledged that the south is the confrontation between the two ethnic groups – Kyrgyz and Uzbeks.
According to the Ministry of Health, at 18.45 in the Osh region in 1962 killed, 1015 injured, 303 hospitalized, of whom more than 100 – are heavy. At the same time from eyewitnesses number of those killed have long passed the mark of 150.
Meanwhile, the impending conflict situation on the national soil Kyrgyzstan has long been a cause for concern. Similar cases have occurred in some regions of the country – the southern Osh, Batken and Jalal-Abad oblasts. It is here that have been documented cases of intentional discrimination Uzbeks.

Recall that a massive incident occurred in Laylaksom region of Batken region. It all started with a quarrel arose between a taxi driver, Uzbek, Kyrgyz and four guys who defiantly refused to pay for something that he drove them home. The consequences of a fight The police, however, two guys, Kirgiz, after a minor penalty on the next day were at home. That same night, they collected about two hundred young men in support and went to town with an ironic name for this situation

- International,

where he lived hapless cabbie. Here, the crowd demanded that the culprit of the incident. Not finding him, angry thugs began to destroy and loot homes in the village.
A few days later, on May 16, still one incident occurred in the Ala-Buka district of Jalal-Abad region. Here two children Kyrgyz ethnic provoked a fight, during which struck in the chest with a knife guy, Uzbek, who is still in the hospital. Kirgiz, wielded a knife, law enforcement agencies detained, however, the participants in the incident the next day, May 17, walked free.
And finally, the logical continuation of the sad events have occurred on May 19 this year in the city of Jalal-Abad massive collision.

In Jalalabad on May 19 about 5,000 Kyrgyz tried to storm the Peoples’ Friendship University, which had barricaded themselves representatives of the Uzbek community.
Meanwhile, in a situation alert residents, for example, the Osh region is quite justified – in people’s memories are still fresh in the bloody events of 1990, which brought together more than 35 thousand Kyrgyz and Uzbeks, were killed over a thousand people.
So who to hand this whole “doomsday”? Who was the initiator of mayhem? In this interim government declares that the initiation of conflict was the work of Bakiev brothers trying to shake up the situation in the country.

There are also a different opinion, claiming that all this quarrel into the hands of the provisional government, the prevalence of the number of people that feareth an Uzbek nationality on the front in the south of the country and because you want through this kind of cleansing artificially reduce the number of Uzbeks.

In this situation, we ask, where is it, the same government that promised a Kyrgyzstan lot of happiness? What is making in this situation the government in the country?
President of the transition Rosa Otunbayeva found in its opinion the most effective method of solving the issue – asked citizens to maintain their calm. And only. Funny?But if you’re in Osh, you would not joking. There is genocide in the country Kyrgyz Uzbeks.

Alizhan Mamasaliev
a.mamasaliev @ yandex.ru

Source - CentrAsia

Kyrgyz “People’s Brigades” Volunteers To Help Maintain Order

DISCUSSED A DRAFT DECREE ON THE FORMATION OF THE CD EP OF THE REPUBLICAN PEOPLE’S BRIGADE HEADQUARTERS THROUGHOUT THE TERRITORY OF KYRGYZSTAN

Print
06/12/2010 PM
Today, 12 June, with the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Provisional Government of the Kyrgyz Republic Sabyrbek Baynazarova leaders of voluntary people’s squads (MAN) discussed the draft Decree of the Provisional Government of the Kyrgyz Republic on the formation of the Republican staff of volunteer peace (MAN) throughout the territory of Kyrgyzstan. The composition of squads will be formed mainly on international basis.
According to the draft decree, MAN operate in accordance with the laws of the country in conjunction with law enforcement authorities. Overall coordination of its work is vested in the Ministry of Interior. All public authorities under the legislation should provide comprehensive assistance to the work of the DAP.

By the decree included a provision MAN.Under the provision, management and control of DND through the Republican joint operational headquarters. In the voluntary people’s squads citizens of Kyrgyzstan, the age of 18 are not brought to justice.

During the day the proposed Ordinance will be further developed and discussed.


Press Service of the Provisional Government of the Kyrgyz Republic

In Osh, to organize the international people’s militia, says A. Voinov

11/06/2010
12:52

Bishkek (AKI) – President of the Federation of Kickboxing Alexander Voinov proposes to organize in Osh international people’s militia.

“I am in touch with members of sports clubs and our affiliates. We are ready to organize a people’s militia. If our help is needed, then we are ready to go to organize a MAN, because practice has shown that it is very effective “, – he said June 11 in an interview with AKI.

According to the Warriors, with the international organization of militias in it is important that they were not representatives of one nationality.

According to him, the men in their actions should be as careful, because in the clashes in the southern capital used weapons.

“They should be with the bands, very closely with law enforcement authorities. They could also help in putting out fires “- he said.

ROSA OTUNBAYEVA STATEMENT TO THE PRESS ABOUT THE SITUATION IN THE SOUTH

ROSA OTUNBAYEVA MADE A STATEMENT TO THE PRESS ABOUT THE SITUATION IN THE SOUTH

Print
06/12/2010 PM
Today, June 12, President of the Kyrgyz Republic, President of the Provisional Government of the KR Rosa Otunbayeva made a statement to the press about the situation in the territories of the republic, where the emergency was introduced.
R. Otunbayeva noted that the situation remains tense, there is a high dynamic events. “If the day before we needed humanitarian assistance, as well as special facilities to avoid direct confrontation of conflicting parties, but now we have to speak about the need for assistance of a third force. We sent a letter to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev with a request to appropriate relief. I would like to emphasize that the present understanding of the situation and the Russian leadership and the leaders of our neighbors in the region “, – she said.

It was also noted that the Special Representative of the Provisional Government of the Kyrgyz Republic for the Southern region, Ismail Isakov, the commandant of the above areas, where a state of emergency, Bakyt Alymbekov, the commandant of the city of Osh Coursan Asanov are in constant contact with the leadership of the Provisional Government. All law enforcement agencies of the capital transferred to high alert.

In the Osh region sent a team of health workers, who are struggling to get to your destination. “There have been attempts to capture the crowd inadequate armored vehicles, had to use force to return vehicle. Students studying in Osh, removed from the city. The educational process is interrupted. Shops, markets closed. We have taken measures to deliver food to Osh from neighboring areas and nearby areas. There will also be de-reserve supply of flour, located in the Fund matrezervov republic “, – said R. Otunbayeva.

R. Otunbayeva also said that the tragic events in the south provoked and conduct probakievskimi forces – his brothers and associates. “We expected that there will be attempts to derail the referendum. But their desire to regain power was desperate, do not stop at nothing. We will aggressively combat attempts to exacerbate the conflict calls for violence, revenge. We extend a helping hand to anyone who wants to bring peace and tranquility “, – she said.

Emphasis is placed on the need to ensure the safety of citizens, R. Otunbayeva said that in the region deployed additional forces, including – volunteer patriots, previously served in law enforcement, those who “understands the issue.” In addition, an agreement was reached on opening a corridor on the border with Uzbekistan to the neighboring republic to move women, the elderly and children. “Engaged in intensive negotiations and consultations with the leadership of Russia. We are waiting for their respective decisions.The Provisional Government will take all necessary measures to stabilize the situation “, – assured R. Otunbayeva.
She also added that all the representatives of the authorities are at their workplaces. And appealed to the population of Osh, Batken and Jalal-Abad regions not succumb to provocations. “There is a deliberate incitement of conflict in our house. We strive for peace, for peace, to order. The media will be published phone number where you can get the necessary information and assistance. Be vigilant, cautious “- called it.

Press Service of the Provisional Government of the Kyrgyz Republic

Kyrgyz Leader Asks for Russian Troops, To Restore Order In Osh

[It is highly significant that Otunbayeva did not ask for American troops.]

more about “Kyrgyz leader asks Russia to restore …“, posted with vodpod

Kyrgyz leader asks Russia to restore order in Osh

Kyrgyzstan’s interim government has asked Russia to help quell ethnic fighting in the southern city of Osh, in which 50 people have been killed.

“We need the entry of outside armed forces to calm the situation down,” interim leader Roza Otunbayeva said.

Buildings are ablaze and gunfire can be heard as fighting between Kyrgyz and ethnic Uzbeks rages for a second day.

Thousands of ethnic Uzbeks are trying to cross into Uzbekistan. One child was crushed to death at the border.

More than 650 people have been hurt in the violence that began late on Thursday, health ministry officials said.

A state of emergency and a curfew has been imposed.

It is the worst violence the Central Asian country has seen since President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was overthrown in April.

RELATED

  • Kyrgyz make up nearly 70% of the population, Uzbeks account for about 15% and are concentrated in the Ferghana Valley in the south
  • Osh, the country’s second city, is home to a large ethnic Uzbek community
  • There has been tension in the south between the two ethnic groups over land and housing
  • In 1990, hundreds were killed in Osh in clashes between Kyrgyz and ethnic Uzbeks

“Entire streets are on fire,” said Interior Ministry spokesman Rakhmatillo Akhmedov.

“The situation is very bad. There is no sign of it stopping. Homes have been set ablaze,” he said.

Most of the properties attacked appear to belong to ethnic Uzbeks, reports say.

Machine-gun fire can be heard as troops try to regain control of the streets, the Associated Press reports.

Kyrgyz men, armed with metal bars and automatic weapons, are arriving in Osh from elsewhere, AP quotes police and local residents as saying.

The BBC’s Rayhan Demytrie, who is at the Kyrgyz-Uzbek border, says that thousands of people – mainly women, children and the elderly – are trying to cross into Uzbekistan or are waiting for any other kind of help.

A child was killed in the rush to cross the border, our correspondent says.

The refugees have told her that their homes were set on fire overnight and that they were being shot at from the armoured personnel vehicles, which are patrolling the streets of Osh.

An interim government spokesman told the BBC that the situation was “very very difficult”.

He denied security personnel were shooting at people and said that its forces were preventing others from entering Osh to join the fighting.

Ethnic tensions

Kyrgyz TV reported that the country’s borders with Tajikistan and China have been closed because of the unrest.

Map

The cause of the fighting is unclear. According to local reports, the violence broke out between rival gangs and developed into gun battles late on Thursday.

The unrest comes ahead of a referendum on the constitution, scheduled for 27 June.

The leaders of Russia and China – which borders Kyrgyzstan – have appealed for calm.

The political crisis has raised fears of a civil war in the country, where both Russia and the US have military bases.

Washington uses the base about 300km (190 miles) from Osh for US operations in Afghanistan.

Mr Bakiyev fled with his family to Belarus after violent clashes between government forces and protesters on 7 April.