The Chinese government has executed 13 individuals for crimes of terrorism in China’s troubled Xinjiang province. The executions, which were carried out on Monday, were justified by Chinese government officials who claimed the individuals had encouraged terrorist activity and “planned violent terrorist attacks” while killing “police officers, government officials and civilians.” The attacks mentioned were carried out in various parts of Xinjiang by, China alleges, individuals who wish to break off from mainland China and create a country known as East Turkestan, due to the Uighur populace’s historically different linguistic and Uighur roots. China has cracked down incessantly on Uighur groups seeking this end, and has instituted laws that have been labeled as draconian and unjust; as human rights officials point out that the laws apply more strictly to the Uighur populace than traditional Chinese Han, who co-inhabit the region with the Uighurs and have frequently clashed with their Turkic neighbors.
Stricter laws and more serious penalties seem only to have exacerbated a problem that already seemed intractable. The Chinese government has failed to stop suicide attacks carried out in Xinjiang’s capital, Urumqi, one of which claimed 39 lives, and knife attacks in western Chinese cities such as Hotan have similarly not been prevented. The rising levels of violence and the increase in both police presence and ambiguous terror laws are not expected to put an end to the conflict, and, if history is any indicator, will only serve to make worse an issue that, up to the moment, has not been addressed diplomatically or by holding multilateral talks involving all parties.
- Uyghur Scholar Tohti Put is rumored to have been put on trial and sentenced in a secret trial held in China’s restive Xinjiang region. Chinese human rights attorney Li Fangping stated that he had gotten wind of proceedings surrounding Fangping, who has been charged with separatism, but that Chinese officials “would not confirm it,” probably due to the possibility of violent reprisals carried out by separatist groups in western China.
- Tajikistan will play host to Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, during a two day visit to the Central Asian nation. Meetings between leaders from both countries are expected to revolve around energy and economic cooperation, both of which are sure to touch on the ever-elusive CASA-1000 energy project. The initiative, which would see Tajikistan greatly increase the amount of electricity it exports to Pakistan and other nations throughout the region, has been stalled due to problems surrounding funding and the feasibility of one the pillars of the project, the Rogun dam. The dam, a pet project for Tajik President Emomalii Rahmon, would be the tallest in the world if completed.
- A gas pipeline in central Ukraine exploded yesterday, only a day after Gazprom cut off the gas supply after a deal on gas debts failed to materialize last week. Spokespersons for the government say that the cause of the blast is still uncertain, but that there are investigating a number of causes, including terrorism. Supplies to the EU are unlikely to be affected, as there are several such pipelines in the cluster, and the pipeline supply terminates in Slovakia, offshooting towards Hungary and Romania and the rest of the EU. Ukrainianinterior minister Arsen Avakov said yesterday that “several theories of what happened are being considered including the key theory – an act of terrorism.”
- Kazakhstan has seen more investment from China than most leading Western countries, according to a new article from the Telegraph. After the United States and Hong Kong, China has invested the most in Kazakhstan’s energy reserves, developing its infrastructure for transportation as well. Receiving over $3 billion annually from the Chinese, a closer relationship is developing between Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev and Chinese premier Xi Jinping.
- Abdullah Abdullah, one of the frontrunners and current participants in the runoff election in Afghanistan, has claimed that the runoff had seen incidents of widespread ballot stuffingand suggested he was being set up for defeat. A senior campaign official pointed fingers at current President Hamid Karzai as the orchestrator of the fraud, and that his aim was to install Ashraf Ghani as President in his place. Abdullah Abdullah has not leveled any claims against Karzai himself, but he questioned the election poll numbers when they came out, suggesting that initial reports that seven million Afghans had voted were incorrect.
- US Secretary of State John Kerry reported in an interview on Monday that the United States could end up cooperating with Iran on the current situation in Iraq, where the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has been steadily advancing towards the capital of Baghdad after taking Mosul. This comment comes right at the cusp of the next round of the P5+1 nuclear talks in Vienna to make a complete a deal before the deadline in July. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and current President Hasan Rouhani have thus far not commented on any potential military cooperation with the United States on the issue, though there are very few countries in the Middle East and elsewhere that have failed to condemn ISIS’s almost unhindered march through Iraq.
- Indian authorities have denied Kashmiri political figures Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Umar Farooq travel documents in order for the two to attend a regularly scheduled meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. The two leaders, which head up conglomerates of separatist parties, have spoken out regularly against the Indian government due to perceived injustices, including illegal imprisonment of separatist Kashmiris. Geelani had previously been charged with sedition, though he has not yet been imprisoned for any significant length of time.
- Russia has continued to strengthen energy ties with nations in its immediate vicinity. Gazprom, the Russian energy giant that’s largely bankrolled by the Russian government, has stepped up ties with Serbia, and has announced that the South Stream gas pipeline will move forward as planned, with construction beginning in July. The pipeline, which was agreed upon by officials in Belgrade and Moscow, will pipe in up to 63 billion cubic meters per year and will originate in Russia’s Black Sea. Russia has historically strong ties to Serbia, and owns 51% of Serbia’s largest oil company, NIS.