Tuesday, April 22, 2003

# Posted 8:46 AM by Patrick Belton  

PLOV WATCH: The Soros Foundation's brainchild EurasiaNet continues to be an absolutely stellar source of analysis and reportage on Central Asia and the Caucasus. It's definitely worth checking out.

Among pieces it's featured lately - Taliban author Ahmed Rashid warns that Taliban leaders have fled to Pakistan under the secret shelter of sympathetic ISI officers, and are using Pakistan as a base from which to launch operations against Hamid Karzai's government. Switching countries, Tajikistan has been something of a bright spot in the region, even as its economy attempts to recover from devastation, because since the end of its civil war in 1997, the Islamist opposition has been taking part in politics and elections, and apparently moderating greatly as a result, becoming a "normal" political party. However, in an interview, IRP chief Said Abdullo Nuri (whose political opponents charge him with untoward involvement with Iranian intelligence) decries President Imomali Rahmonov's current potentially-destabilizing efforts to amend Tajikistan's constitution to permit him to serve beyond his seven-year term, and join his neighbors in the region's ruler-for-life club.

Finally, this piece analyzes the overlap and divergence in interests between Iran and the New Iraq. Iran worries that a strongly pro-American New Iraq will not develop close relations with it, whereas a fragmenting Iraq will be an irritant to Iran's security situation. Iran's interests lie in seeing Iraq's Shiites, principally Ayatollah Hakim's Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution of Iraq, secure a key role in the new Iraqi politics; Iran will try to provide as much help, in ways both public and quiet, to this party as it can in the coming months. A prominent role for the Islamist party is clearly very much not in the U.S.'s interest; however, a resurgence of the Shi'a theological school in Najaf could conceivably provide a point of reformist theological criticism of Iran's mullahs (as there are signs Qom in Iran slowly may be becoming).
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