Uzbekistan

Not Always Bingo

Even if the crime rate in New York City had not dropped over the last few decades to a level that makes Broadway feel more like Main Street, the murder of Daniel Malakov, an orthodontist shot at a Queens playground in 2007, would have been notable. Malakov and his estranged wife, both doctors, were immigrants from Uzbekistan who lived among a tightly knit community of Bukharan Jews, a group known for their secrecy and impenetrability to outsiders. The couple were embroiled in a tense divorce and custody battle over their four-year-old daughter.

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Bishkek Blunder

Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan—Smiling in a conference room of her aging Soviet-era office suite, Roza Otunbayeva appeared confident—possibly for the first time in her short presidency. It was only two weeks after June 10, when ethnic violence had begun engulfing the south of her country, but Kyrgyzstan's diminutive leader, a bespectacled former diplomat with a bob cut and the good-natured manner of a high-school principal, announced that the bloodshed had failed to discourage people from participating in a nationwide referendum.

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I’m struck by how quickly some of my fellow Entanglers have brought up the mother of all epistemological quandaries: How can we, the not very well informed, know what is the case in a far-off land of which we know, well, not very much? The difficulty in knowing what is true on the ground in Afghanistan, for example, is massive. And the reason is not that “the liberal media” blight the national climate with pessimism because they’re of a wimpish or Qaeda-loving disposition.

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Slander

In late August, a couple of weeks after a U.S. drone strike incinerated Baitullah Mehsud, leader of the Pakistani Taliban, the country’s most popular televised chat show, “Capital Talk,” hosted a panel to discuss national security. Among the guests was a squat, middle-aged woman with short black hair, streaked with silver dye, named Shireen Mazari. A defense analyst and public intellectual, Mazari is known for her hawkish nationalism--and deep suspicions of India and the United States.

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The Battle for Tora Bora

Four days before the fall of Kabul in November 2001, Osama bin Laden was still in town. The Al Qaeda leader’s movements before and after September 11 are difficult to trace precisely, but, just prior to the attacks, we know that he appeared in Kandahar and urged his followers to evacuate to safer locations in anticipation of U.S. retaliation. Then, on November 8, he was in Kabul, despite the fact that U.S. forces and their Afghan allies were closing in on the city.

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Dubai is faltering. With its gleaming towers, indoor ski slopes, man-made islands, and other luxury projects, the city had epitomized the wealth that the global economic boom of the 1990s and early 2000s produced. It was even pronounced "too big to fail." But then, the boom went bust, and Dubai wasn't immune. And yet, despite glaring warning signals emanating from the Persian Gulf, some unusual suspects are moving forward with plans for their own Dubais.

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Crude Awakening

Earlier this year, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived in China—and quickly made himself at home. The occasion was a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a regional group linking China, Russia, and Central Asia. During the summit, Ahmadinejad seemed to be everywhere. He posed, arms linked, with Russian and Chinese officials, who said nothing as he called for “impartial and independent experts” to investigate whether the Holocaust happened. He delivered a major address broadcast on Chinese state television.

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