In statements made earlier this week Kyrgyz politican Nurlan Moteuv revealed that he would leave Kyrgyzstan to fight for ISIL in Syria if he were able. The only thing preventing him from moving, Moteuv stated, was the Kyrgyz government, which he believes would stop him if he left the cotunry. Moteuv called for Kyrgyzstan to adopt the Sharia as official legislation and attributed popular discontent to the outflow of Kyrgyz to conflict zones in Syria and Iraq. The statement was perceived as possibly incendiary, given the increasing presence of Kyrgyz nationals in Syria. Kyrgyz security services brought Moteuv in for questioning but have not formally detained him.
In related reports, the Kyrgyz government in Bishkek announced that it has detained numerous Tajik citizens bound for Syria. The Kyrgyz State Committee for Nataional Security (UKMK) announced the detention of at least 25 militants near the southern Kyrgyz city of Osh. The Kyrgyz government appears increasingly concerned about the threat extremist groups such as ISIL present the country. Indeed, the UKMK recently designated the group as a terrorist organization and banned any affiliated activities within the country. The decision to designate ISIL a terrorist organization appears to have been made in February of this year but only went into force last week.
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- Kazakhstan continued to invest heavily in its gold reserves. A report from Bloomberg notes that the Kazakh government increased its gold reserves for a 29th consecutive month. The information was initially released by the International Monetary Fund, which noted that another Central Asian nation, Tajikistan, also increased its gold reserves.
- A new piece of analysis from Forbes documents the extent by which Russia’s foreign trade in Q1 2015 have declined drastically compared to Q1 2014. The report, which generally affirms that Russia’s economy is in dire straits due to a confluence of factors, goes on to list statistics showing a 31.4% drop in exports and a correlated drop from $39.5 billion USD to $27.5 billion. Russian imports decreased by 40.8 percent compared to Q1 2014, largely in “cars, equipment and transportation,” according to information published by Rosstat.
- Russia announced plans to build Jordan’s first nuclear reactor. A deal signed earlier this month and totaling $10bn will see the plant constructed in northern Jordan. The plant will consist of two 1,000 megawatt reactors and is expected to provide relief to populations in Jordan which have faced electricity shortages due to fighting in Iraq and in the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula.
- US officials, in a statement released yesterday, affirm that they “see a path forward” towards the signing of an agreement with Iran concerning its nuclear program. The deadline for at least a framework deal is March 31, and is already looming. US Secretary of State John Kerry will meet with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in Switzerland today, with the goal of working out remaining differences prior to the deadline.