250 episodes

In this biweekly podcast, host Bruce Pannier welcomes expert guests to discuss significant political developments and pressing social issues affecting the nations of Central Asia.

Majlis RFE/RL

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In this biweekly podcast, host Bruce Pannier welcomes expert guests to discuss significant political developments and pressing social issues affecting the nations of Central Asia.

    The Threat Posed by IS-K To Central Asia -- And Beyond

    The Threat Posed by IS-K To Central Asia -- And Beyond

    The threat of terrorism is never far from the minds of officials in Central Asia, who know that their region shares a 2,000-kilometer border with Afghanistan. In recent weeks, Tajikistan’s speaker of parliament has warned about a growing number of militants in northern Afghanistan and in Kyrgyzstan, where authorities detained 15 suspected members of Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K), a group operating out of Afghanistan. Suspected IS-K militants who are Tajik nationals have been blamed for terrorist attacks in Moscow in March and Iran in January. Joining host Bruce Pannier to look at who these militants are and where they are active are guests Lucas Webber, the co-founder and editor of militantwire.com and a research fellow at the Soufan Center; and Riccardo Valle, an analyst focused on jihadism security and the director of thekhorasandiary.com.

    • 46 min
    The Rise Of The Organization Of Turkic States

    The Rise Of The Organization Of Turkic States

    Turkey is building up its influence in Central Asia -- as shown by the Organization of Turkic States (OTS). The OTS includes Turkey, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan; Turkmenistan and Hungary are OTS observer members. The growing cooperation between these states since Russia launched its full-scale war in Ukraine accelerated in 2024, in such sectors as investment, trade, transport, energy, and security. Joining host Bruce Pannier to look at developments in the OTS are guests Assel Tutumlu, a lecturer at the International Relations and Political Science Department at the Near East University in Cyprus, and Johan Engvall, from the Stockholm Centre for Eastern European Studies (SCEEUS), based at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs.

    • 48 min
    Tajik Government's Crackdown In Gorno-Badakhshan Enters Third Year

    Tajik Government's Crackdown In Gorno-Badakhshan Enters Third Year

    Two years have passed since the Tajik government launched its crackdown on residents of the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast, or GBAO. On May 16, 2022, police and security forces attacked peaceful protesters in the GBAO capital, Khorugh, and dozens of people were killed in the weeks that followed. After the shooting stopped, the state’s repression of the region continued with the arrests of hundreds of GBAO natives – including this month, when at least 35 residents of GBAO’s Yazgulom district were detained. Joining host Bruce Pannier to discuss the Tajik government’s crackdown in GBAO are guests Syinat Sultanalieva, a researcher covering Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan for Human Rights Watch, and Bakhtiyor Safarov, the founder of the firm Central Asia Consulting in the United States who is originally from Gorno-Badakhshan.

    • 48 min
    Clamping Down On Religious Freedom In Central Asia

    Clamping Down On Religious Freedom In Central Asia

    The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) just released its annual report on freedom of religion in the world. The sections on Central Asia make for grim reading. Constitutionally, people in Central Asia can practice whatever faith they choose. In practice, however, only the state-approved forms of Islam and the Russian Orthodox Church are acceptable to authorities in Central Asia. Other groups face a myriad of problems; discussions of religion posted on social networks that stray from state sanctioned norms can lead to legal repercussions. Joining host Bruce Pannier to discuss are Mollie Blum, a researcher at USCIRF who helped compile the data on Central Asia for the recent report, and Felix Corley, editor of the Forum 18 News Service that monitors religious freedom in the former Soviet republics and Eastern Europe.

    • 52 min
    British Foreign Secretary Cameron Visits Central Asia

    British Foreign Secretary Cameron Visits Central Asia

    British Foreign Secretary David Cameron just completed an official trip to all five Central Asian states. For Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan, this was the first time a British foreign secretary had ever visited. In this episode of the Majlis podcast, we look at Cameron’s Central Asia tour, what he was offering to his hosts, and what he was able to accomplish during the trip. Joining host Bruce Pannier are guests Aijan Sharshenova, a research fellow at the Bishkek-based think tank Crossroads Central Asia; Ben Godwin, the head of analysis at PRISM Political Risk Management, who lived and worked in Kazakhstan for seven years and continues to monitor events there; and Luca Anceschi, professor of Central Asian studies at Glasgow University and author of several books on Central Asia.

    • 47 min
    Are Tajik Government Policies Helping Create Terrorists?

    Are Tajik Government Policies Helping Create Terrorists?

    Can an authoritarian government's policies contribute to its citizens becoming terrorists? Tajik President Emomali Rahmon’s government has received financial and security aid from many governments and for more than three decades, in an effort to keep Tajikistan from becoming a second Afghanistan or Syria. During that time, Rahmon has exploited these concerns to crush all potential opposition and allow his family to take control of nearly every profitable business in the country. In recent months, a few dozen citizens of Tajikistan have carried out -- or been accused of carrying out or abetting -- terrorist attacks in several countries. Should the Tajik government also be held responsible? Joining host Bruce Pannier to discuss this are guests Marius Fossum, the regional representative in Central Asia for the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, and Steve Swerdlow, a rights lawyer with long experience in Central Asia and currently an associate professor of the practice of human rights at the University of Southern California.

    • 47 min

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