Audit of Afghan Votes Resumes Following Stoppage

A rigorous audit of all votes cast in Afghanistan’s recent presidential elections has resumed following a 48 hour suspension due to irregularities in certain Afghan electoral organizations and a disagreement in certain technical aspects of the audit. The differences have at least ostensibly been resolved, and the nearly 200 teams of auditors have resumed their…

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Afghanistan Faces Ethnic Rift Following Final Vote Count

With all votes counted in Afghanistan, tensions are rising as some have been quick to anoint Ashraf Ghani as the new Afghan president, while others, including leading opposition candidate and previous frontrunner Dr. Abdullah Abdullah have labeled the election a “coup” and have refused to recognize the results of the election. The Afghan Independent Election…

New Military Offensive in Pakistan drives TTP into Afghanistan

A military offensive long planned by the Pakistani military in the wake of months of stalled talks with the Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP) Group, which frequently hides the mountains of Northern Waziristan, took place yesterday. The operation, entitled “Zarb-e-Azb,” has driven TTP militant forces across the border into Afghanistan, additionally creating large numbers of refugees who have…

Pakistan restarts peace talks with Tehrik-i-Taliban

In January, Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif reached out to one of the most well-organized Pakistani Taliban groups, the Tehrik-i-Taliban (or TTP) to begin peace dialogues. Calling for a ceasefire between the near-daily clashes with government forces in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan (FATA), the talks were quickly derailed after TTP spokesman…

Ukraine tense over Russian gas supply

To compound already-bursting tensions between Ukraine and Russia, the Russian oil and gas company Gazprom has raised prices to the country by 37% by cancelling a discount and even threatening to cut supplies entirely. This, according to a statement delivered by Ukrainian Energy Minister Yuri Prodan, means that Ukraine will be forced to pay $368.50…

Iran Condemns Afghan Opium Trade

Iran’s Anti-Narcotics Headquarters for International Relations has issued a statement condemning the traffic of heroin through Iranian territory. Deputy General Mahmoud Bayat took advantage of a meeting with Sweden’s Foreign Ministry to underline Iranian discontent with the increasingly voluminous quantity of heroin trafficked both into Iranian drug markets and through Iran destined for markets in…

Railways in Central Asia: Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Iran

Construction of a new route linking oil and gas giants Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Iran is grinding slowly towards completion. Though initial estimates on project had it fully operational as early as 2011, recent headway on the project in Turkmenistan, the last remaining 90 kilometer stretch of the nearly 900 kilometer (559 miles) railway, is expected…

The Great Gas Game, Part II

Turkmenistan is not the only source of LNG in Central Asia. Iran has long hoped to marshal its LNG resources but its central problem is the hesitancy of its neighbors to enter into a partnership to develop pipeline infrastructure. This is partially due to the harsh economic sanctions placed upon the Iranian economy on account…

The Great Gas Game, Part I

The global shale gas boom has barely begun. It is already old news in North America, but emerging markets in Asia have found that demand consistently outstrips supply, due not only to scarcity, but also to underdevelopment of existing resources. One of the largest sources of undeveloped energy and mineral wealth lies in the Caspian…