China bans Xinjiang Muslims from Ramadan Fast

In another development to the rapidly deteriorating relations between the ethnic Uighur population and Chinese authorities, government departments in Xinjiang have banned Muslim staff from fasting during the month of Ramadan. Authorities did not provide a rationale for the ban, citing only that the ban was enacted “in accordance with instructions from higher authorities.” Officials have consistently…

Ukrainian Military Breaks Cease Fire, Launches New Offensive

The already caustic Russia-Ukraine relationship has worsened yet again as a Ukrainian military offensive ripped into areas of the country’s east plagued by fighting and partially controlled by pro-Russia rebels. The violence, which had ostensibly drawn to a halt, albeit only temporarily as the two sides agreed to a cease fire, has erupted anew with…

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…

Crimeans vote to split from Ukraine, rejoin Russia

The Crimean referendum election on Russian annexation took place yesterday. With more than 50% of the vote accounted for, exit polls demonstrate that an overwhelming majority (close to 95%) of Crimeans supports the secession from Ukraine, as reported by the head of referendum committee Mikhail Malishev However, instead of defusing tensions, the referendum has merely…

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…