Tied to Today: Future for Central Asia?

On Friday, September 2, 2016, the death of Islam Karimov, the President of Uzbekistan was announced.  Karimov was 78 years old and died of a stroke.  He had been in power in Uzbekistan since before the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 and has been the country’s only president to this point.  Uzbekistan is the largest former Soviet Republic in Central Asia (in terms of population).  Karimov had a close relationship to Vladimir Putin’s Russia, yet still allowed the United States to use airbases in his country to fight the War on Terror.  Human rights watch groups such as Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders decried Karimov’s regime for practices including torture and forced child labor.  Despite these allegations of crimes, Central Asia has been stable since 1991 despite the troubles in the nearby Middle East and the tensions between Pakistan and India.  With Karimov’s death, we can only wonder who will fill his shoes in Uzbekistan – one of the least open countries in the world.

Featured Image: “Islam Karimov.” By Kremlin.ru, CC BY 4.0.
Source: Yan, Holly. “Longtime Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov dies after stroke.” CNN. 2 September 2016.

Tied to Today: Turkey Coup 

To get a sense of the historical context of the coup attempt in Turkey, check out this article by my friend Claire Sadar. @KARepublic

“I only remember fear”: The Legacy of the 1980 Coup in Turkey

Tied to Today: A Leadership Crisis in Britain?

On July 13, 1962, the United Kingdom was undergoing political upheaval – sounds familiar, huh?  Theresa May’s assumption of the role of Prime Minister after these past few weeks of chaos and uncertainty following Brexit parallels nicely to the anniversary of the turmoil that became known as the Night of the Long Knives.

Conservative Prime Minister Harold Macmillan found himself in an embattled position.  The UK was in an economic downturn, widely blamed on the old-school Conservatives and that young, upstart John Kennedy had won the United States Presidency showing that youth could overcome experience.  On top of that, Conservatives had lost several key seats to challengers in what had once been safe Tory seats.  Macmillan discussed a shakeup of his cabinet to demonstrate to the country that the government was responding to the times.  His confidant was Home Secretary Rab Butler, who later spoke to a journalist about the PM’s plans.  With the secrets proclaimed on the front page of London newspapers, Macmillan had to act.  On July 13, he called seven members of his cabinet and “replaced” them.  The actions did not have the desired impact.  Instead, the papers began calling him “Mac the Knife” and calling the action the Night of the Long Knives – an event from Nazi history when, in 1934, Hitler consolidated his power by executing several rivals within the part.  Macmillan would hang on for another year as Prime Minister, but his influence was severely damaged.

Sources: “The Legacy of Macmillan’s ‘Night of the Long Knives.'” BBC News. 6 July 2012.
Featured Image. “Harold Macmillan.” By Vivienne (Florence Mellish Entwistle) (Active 1940, died 1982) – http://www.gac.culture.gov.ukhttp://www.gac.culture.gov.uk/work.aspx?obj=27194 http://www.number10.gov.uk/past-prime-ministers/harold-macmillan/http://www.number10.gov.uk, OGL.

Tied to Today: Five Tumultous Years

Today marks the fifth anniversary of the establishment of the world’s youngest country, South Sudan.  In January 2011, approximately 99% of the majority Christian southern regions of Sudan voted for independence from the majority Muslim north.  The people’s will was realized on July 9, 2011 when the two countries officially split.  There were, however, issues left to resolve – particularly about the oil reserves that straddle the new international border.

In 2013, a civil war broke out in South Sudan as deputy Riek Machar and some of his followers were accused of attempting a coup against President Salva Kiir.  This led to a war lasting the past two-plus years that left thousands dead across the struggling young nation.  In April 2016, Machar was sworn in as Kiir’s newest Vice President in an attempt to end the violence.  We will have to wait and see what happens!

South Sudan Rebel Chief Riek Machar Sworn in as Vice-President.” BBC News. 26 April 2016.
Featured Image: “Flag of South Sudan.” By User:Achim1999 – http://www.fotw.us/flags/ss.html / Flag of the World, Public Domain.


Tied To Today: World Refugee Day

June 20, 2001 marked the first International World Refugee Day as set by a United Nations Resolution.  On this date, we are reminded that refugees are victims of inhumane situations in their home country.  They are forced to live in fear – of death, violence, kidnapping, starvation, and other evils.  In the 2016 campaign #withrefugees, World Refugee Day is asking people to sign a petition to be presented to the UN General Assembly meeting on September 19.

This petition asks the UN to work towards the following goals:

  • To ensure every refugee child gets an education.
  • To ensure every refugee family has somewhere safe to live.
  • To ensure every refugee can work or learn new skills to make a positive contribution to their community.

I think this is an outstanding campaign.  Take a look at their site to see more information at: http://www.un.org/en/events/refugeeday/ and http://www.unhcr.org/refugeeday/us/.

Tied To Today: Orlando

At the time of this writing (early afternoon, Sunday 6/12), we are still learning the horrific details from Orlando about the senseless mass shooting at the Pulse Orlando nightclub.  It appears that a gunman with possible ISIS sympathies entered the club and in the end, at least 50 people were killed and 53 more were wounded.  As we  wait to learn more about the motives behind this horrific crime, I cannot help but be reminded of an excellent podcast that I listened to just last week that celebrated Gay Rights and took a look into the long and complicated history that goes along with that topic.  In times like these when attacks are meant to cause fear, it is important that we pause to remember and to celebrate the lives of those lost and the issues they held dear.  Check it out at the History Buffs Podcast.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.