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Thursday, 21 June 2018 09:35

Tajiks can be said are most suffered nation of former Soviet Union in latest quarter of century – bloody civil war, total economic collapse, massive labor migration, colossal corruption and lack of any freedom and hope. After husbands and fathers were killed or left to Russia or are unable to provide for the family anymore, women in many families of this conservative society had to leave home and seek for opportunities. On life of Tajik women the Central Asian Analytical Network talked with researcher Swetlana Torno, from the Heidelberg University in Germany.

Is it difficult to be a woman in Tajikistan?

Yes, but just as it is to be a man—one only needs to think of the economic situation in the country, reflected in a clear lack of employment or well-paid jobs that underpins the phenomenon of labor migration. This affects both, men and women, though in different ways.

I met many girls who after finishing high school desired to go to university but lacked financial resources at this stage in life for being the eldest among several siblings when her younger brothers did not yet work to help their family finance her studies. In other words, ‘timing’ matters in the context of a family—a not so obvious factor when you think about the problems of the country from a strictly macro-level.

In exploring the interrelations of care and women’s life courses in Kulob and Dushanbe, my work and reply focuses more on women’s perspectives and consequently on their immediate challenges. Here, it is important to note that the work needed to sustain all members within the institution family is divided along gender and age lines, which I call: the distribution of care labor. In general terms, men are conceived of as breadwinners while women take care of the household, the children, the old and the sick. This does not mean that women do not work. In fact, most of the women that I met during my research engaged in some sort of formal or informal employment during their lifetimes. Age, too, is an important factor for the distribution of household responsibilities. Here, younger and mid-aged generations exercise greater role in income-generation and physical household work, hence providing for the youngest and oldest generations.

This rather simplified pattern does not capture all complexities of everyday life in Tajikistan but it shows that individuals need to be understood as part of a bigger social group like the family. Thus, the difficulties that women face arise primarily from the social and economic situation of their family. However, they can change depending on the period of the life course at which we are looking. This complex relationship is best exemplified by real-life situations: I met many girls who after finishing high school desired to go to university but lacked financial resources at this stage in life for being the eldest among several siblings when her younger brothers did not yet work to help their family finance her studies. In other words, ‘timing’ matters in the context of a family—a not so obvious factor when you think about the problems of the country from a strictly macro-level. Most probably, to go back to my example, these girls will be married soon and give birth to several children. However, if their wish to study is still strong and their respective husbands support that wish, they can get enrolled most commonly as part-time students at a university while their mothers-in-law or another household member take care of the children.


There is no connection between the content of the interview/mentioned cases and the people on the photographs. Photographs of Tajik women are taken and provided by Swetlana Torno

Women in mid-ages, on the other hand, worry a lot about the wellbeing of their children: Do they behave and study well? Will my husband be able to earn enough money to buy the necessary books and a new uniform for the next school year for all our children? How can we possibly finance the university education of the brightest of our children and the upcoming commemoration ceremony of my husband’s mother, the upcoming wedding of my son, the medical treatment for my daughter? Should I look for additional clients in my tailoring business next to my job as a teacher to make the ends meet? Hopefully my daughter is doing well in her husband’s house! Hopefully our son returns back from the military service sound and healthy!

Challenges vary for women who for different reasons lost their husbands and thus need to be both, a father and a mother, for their children. The question here is whether they can count on the support from their in-law families next to their own siblings. Finally, labor migration creates a whole range of ‘changes’ and ‘challenges’ that affect women (and men) depending on the time in their life course. Examples include: the novel way to experience the fathers’ love and study instructions through mobile screens; young brides facing their own and their husband’s estrangement when they return back home after two or more years abroad; women running the family business, overseeing the house construction, and negotiating university entrance fees for their children in their husbands’ absence; old mothers wishing their eldest son would not need to set off again on a troublesome journey into a cold, often hostile country from where some come back home aggrieved.

Does the social category of a woman (I mean, being a sister, a daughter, a mother, a wife, a mother-in-law) add additional challenges on her?

Yes, and you raise an important point here. People in Tajikistan, and Central Asia at large, ascribe a high value to family relations. When meeting a person in Tajikistan, a common first question revolves around the wellbeing of one’s father, mother, sisters, brothers etc. This, I argue, is not a mere friendly remark. On the contrary, it underlines the importance people place on family. My work shows that in present-day Tajikistan the institution of the family plays a tremendously important role in the provision of care and social security. This is particularly evident when one thinks about the severe underfunding of state welfare institutions.

When meeting a person in Tajikistan, a common first question revolves around the wellbeing of one’s father, mother, sisters, brothers etc. This, I argue, is not a mere friendly remark.

As I mentioned in my previous answer, people directly rely on family members in one generation and across generations for material, social, psychological and financial support. The further women progress in their life courses, the more responsibilities they need to take over, the more people they need to care for and distribute scarce resources such as time, physical work force as well as the available material and financial means. This can become a complicated undertaking if you are a sister, daughter, mother, wife, mother-in-law, an employee—or any combination of these possibilities.

One of less researched topics in Central Asia is forced or arranged marriages. How is this issue seen through the eyes of a Western researcher?

The question of arranged marriage contains many shades of complexity which are often missed by outsiders. My data from Kulob and Dushanbe region shows a preference towards this ‘format’ since it is considered a common and ideal practice for the parents of the prospective groom to ask for the hand of a prospective bride. Thus, parents (mothers in particular) are the ones to negotiate most marriage details, while the prospective bride and groom stay in the background. It can happen that the marriage proposal happens on the initiative of mothers, or that a boy saw the girl somewhere and liked her. They might exchange photographs and phone numbers or meet at a public place so as to be sure that they find each other likeable before actually agreeing on the marriage. I also document cases where bride and groom knew each other from high school or university and have been talking to each other for some time. Here, after coming to an agreement that they like each other and want to marry, the boy needs to reveal his intentions to his mother, who then might inquire more about the girl and her family. If she comes to a positive conclusion, she will approach the girl’s mother. The anthropologist Gillian Tett has made an excellent research on this topic in 1990/1991.

Not seldom during my research I heard young people, boys and girls, stating that they actually want to marry a person that their parents chose for them because they are senior and have more life experience. I think this point is particularly difficult to understand for a person growing up in Europe, where people believe that marriages should happen strictly on the consent of the bride and groom. Along with that ideal, what we see in countries such as Germany, is the trend of young people to date each other for several years and to live together in one house (co-habitation) before marriage. In contrast, the ideal marriage age for boys and girls in Tajikistan lies comparatively low and prolonged interpersonal relationships before marriage are negatively valued. At the same time, marriage seems to be an issue that concerns not only the bride and groom but also their families. Viewed as such, arranged marriages appear as a more logical consequence of particular social ideals, expectations and practices.


There is no connection between the content of the interview/mentioned cases and the people on the photographs. Photographs of Tajik women are taken and provided by Swetlana Torno

Arranged marriages contain the possibility of bride and groom, in differing degrees, being involved in partner choice. However, they also contain the possibility of parents or older brothers imposing a decision upon their children and sisters respectively. Here, the line between force, persuasion and agreement due to a lack of other perspectives is difficult to draw. Looking into my own research data, I have first-hand information on four cases where young women had to accept the decision taken by their mothers, uncles or brothers. Except of one, they all ended in a divorce because the girls did not comply with the behavioral rules in their husbands’ households. They took an ‘exit strategy’ that required a lot of strength and there is no doubt that for each of the young women this was a personal tragedy. In cases of forced marriage, I hope that the girl’s social environment finds ways to assist her resolving the situation and regardless the outcomes she finds moral support in her family or professional psychological help.

Still, personally, I observe more marriages based on love. Am I wrong?

Ideas about love are very sophisticated in Tajikistan (mother’s love, love between siblings and partners) and deserve a thorough investigation. I did not do a systematic study on love and love marriages in Tajikistan, but I can share some observations. During my research, I got the impression that love (ishk) is a popular topic among youth in Tajikistan. I saw many young people hanging out in parks to get a glimpse of the other sex or talking on the mobile phone with each other. Several reported how they fell in love with somebody, got heart-broken because the person did not reciprocate it or married somebody else; some even wrote songs and poems about it. Young women often asked me if it is true that in Europe people marry for love. Some stated that love does not exist in Tajikistan because the parents choose one’s marriage partner; others claimed that they married for love.

Older generations, on the other hand, often pointed out that real love comes only after marriage and that children play an important role in this process. Children make the family and the relationship between a husband and wife strong, they argued. I have to admit, I spent a long time wondering how these different perspectives go together. Are they talking about the same feeling? Is it similar to the way people talk about love in Europe? It is difficult to get to the bottom of other people’s subjectivities. What I am certain about is that gender relations are constructed and lived differently in Tajikistan (I don’t mean everything, but there are differences) and this shapes the way how women and men feel toward each other.

On the other hand, in Germany there exists the idea about love on first sight and that the feelings between two persons develop over time and the longer they are together the stronger becomes their bond. This resonates with the love the older generations in Tajikistan describe.

Daughter-mother-in-law clashes are common in the region and in many cases result in divorces. What can be said on this problem? Is it happening more because new brides are less respectful towards their in-laws, as a clash of generations? Or these are just mothers-in-law who despite of facing the same psychological pressure when they were brides, use now the same tools against their sons’ wives?

Asking a woman about the reasons for a divorce, the majority would argue that the mother-in-law is horrible, the husband’s sisters are greedy or the husband is an alcohol addict.

First, I want to point out that the alleged clash between daughters-in-law and mothers-in-law is a dominant discourse in the region and beyond, which draws predominantly from the notion of a patriarchal family. In my opinion, we are used to think in these pre-established categories that prevent us from seeing things in another light. During my research, I perceived this ‘clash’ rather as a blaming or ‘scape-goating’ strategy, which conceals the more complicated relationships on the ground. Asking a woman about the reasons for a divorce, the majority would argue that the mother-in-law is horrible, the husband’s sisters are greedy or the husband is an alcohol addict. In the reverse instance, the answer would be that the daughter-in-law is not respectful, lazy or she was not a virgin before marriage. Such explanations reiterate the existing discourses instead of revealing something about the underlying causes. My point is that we need to look closer on particular cases instead of taking pre-defined categories and explanations for granted.

In the reverse instance, the answer would be that the daughter-in-law is not respectful, lazy or she was not a virgin before marriage.

Speaking of hierarchies within the family, there is, without a doubt, an imbalance of power between the position of a mother-in-law and a daughter-in-law. They are, however, filled by different personalities who negotiate their personal ideas and boundaries on an everyday basis. Mothers-in-law can be powerful, but they can also be patient and caring. Young brides, too, can exercise power by not abiding to the expectations placed on them. Social, economic and political circumstances can put individuals under enormous psychological pressure. Reasons for a divorce can be manifold (see my reply regarding forced marriages) and even if there is a conflict between a mother-in-law and a daughter-in-law, husbands or other family members could try to mediate. After all, in case of a divorce, the different parties involved can reflect on their behavior and learn from previous mistakes.

Do economic problems change the role of women in society and family? Raised voice, more economic power, more freedom in movement and taking decisions, etc.?

Economic insecurity can unleash very different social dynamics, sometimes restricting the freedom of voice and sometimes promoting movement. Again, a nuanced perspective is needed here that takes into account developments over time. I know for example a case of a single mother with three children who married her daughter in the age of 17 because of economic constraints. After several years, it came to a divorce and the daughter returned to her mother’s home with her two children. This young woman decided that she does not want to marry again and since she could not find an appropriately paid job in Tajikistan she went to Russia leaving her children behind with her mother. After initial problems, she managed to find a stable job and within two years even became the main breadwinner for her mother, her younger sister, and her children back home. At the same time, her brother who was a labor migrant in Russia as well struggled finding permanent employment and was barely able to send money back home.

The social and economic position of this young woman changed considerably within 5–7 years, from being married under-age (i.e. a condition we would associate with the absence of freedom of movement or voice) to one with the most economic power within her family. Nevertheless, her situation comes with many caveats and struggles: for instance, she had to sacrifice the relationship to her children and as a labor migrant in Russia, she remains vulnerable to sub-optimal working conditions in the host country and frequently changing migration laws.

Are women more willing to leave their communities (and country) for education or job, and are their men (fathers, husbands) more willing to let them go?

I witnessed cases where mothers and elder sisters collected money to enable their daughters/younger sisters to acquire study permits, international passports, program entrance fees and plane tickets.

I am not familiar with numbers on education abroad, but studies on labor migration from Tajikistan indeed show that the number of women migrants has been constantly increasing since the 2000s. The reasons can be manifold: some follow their husbands shortly after marriage in order to strengthen the union and conceive a child; others permanently stay with their husbands in order to care for them and possibly take up employment. Among labor migrants are also women who lost their husbands or faced a divorce thus becoming the main breadwinner for their children (and possibly other family members). At the 2017 CESS conference at the University of Washington, Nodira Kholmatova presented a paper on female labor migration from Tajikistan. Among others, she documented a case where a mother and daughter migrate interchangeably, leaving their husband/father in Tajikistan to look after the grandchildren. The case of men ‘left behind’ is thus possible, albeit unusual. Kholmatova’s data suggests that economic necessity is the main factor behind women’s mobility. It seems that female labor migration became an established option by now, a much sought-after channel for social improvement than 2 decades ago.


There is no connection between the content of the interview/mentioned cases and the people on the photographs. Photographs of Tajik women are taken and provided by Swetlana Torno

Nevertheless, who is actually letting women go? How much ‘agency’ do they exercise in the decision to move? In general, studies on labor migration worldwide show that the decision to leave is not taken individually but within the family or household. Depending on the household composition, this can involve fathers, brothers, husbands or mothers-in-law. Drawing on my data on educational mobility, these are often mothers who support their daughters’ ambitions to study abroad. There are of course families that consider education for girls unnecessary or a decision that their prospective husband should take. During my research in Kulob, however, I also observed the tendency to enroll the girls at least at the Medical or Pedagogical Colleges with the hope that they will be able to contribute to family income after marriage. I witnessed cases where mothers and elder sisters collected money to enable their daughters/younger sisters to acquire study permits, international passports, program entrance fees and plane tickets. In other words, despite the fact that fathers and husbands are usually presented as heads of households, women are decisively involved in shaping their daughters’ life courses and future.

What are the differences of everyday lives of Tajik women from women in the West, let’s say Germany?

It is difficult to be a woman in any country of the world.

The most striking difference is probably the age at marriage and birth of first child. While the majority of women in Tajikistan marry until age 23 and give birth to their first child around that age, this is only the case for a minority in Germany. Between 2011 and 2015, the mean age at marriage in Germany was around 30 years. As I pointed out above, couples tend to date each other and even live together a long time before marriage, a considerable number of women do not marry their first partner and not all marry before having children. Many women consider education and financial independence as highly important and thus spend the time before marriage at university, job training and full-time employment. During this time, women start to take over responsibility for leading their own household and the transition into the married status seems to me less abrupt. Like in Tajikistan, women’s lives change with the birth of their first child and I believe they share the same worries about a good education and general well-being of their children as I described for Tajik women. In Germany, almost all married couples live in a separate household and many of them not in close proximity to paternal households. Thus, they cannot always share the childcare with grandparents as in Tajikistan where married couples usually reside in the household of the husband’s parents for some years.

Your first question was about the difficulties women face in Tajikistan. Comparing it with Germany and taking it to a more general level, I think it is difficult to be a woman in any country of the world. Women’s living conditions, expectations, responsibilities and challenges vary depending on the country they live in as well as on their membership to a social class, ethnicity or age group. Some things are easier for women at particular periods in their life-course in one country that might be or seem difficult to women in a comparable social or economic position in another country. The reverse, however, can also be true. We need to look on the whole context in order to identify what are the particular difficulties individual persons as well as social and age groups face.



Thursday, 21 June 2018 08:57
In the recent past, the situation in the Syrian south wasn’t covered hardly in media as in Idlib and Deir Ezzor. Meanwhile, the situation in the south deserves our attention.
After de-escalation zones in Eastern Ghouta and Homs have been essentially disappeared the question was raised on a format like that as a tool in principle. It was noted that such action could hardly be considered as facilitating the settlement of the crisis in Syria.
In the zones under the guise of the so-called moderate opposition, ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra have infiltrated and established control, as recent experience has shown. Hiding, their numbers reached tens of thousands.
Two de-escalation zones continue to function at present in Idlib province and in southern Syria. Everything is clear with Idlib de-escalation zone where all the radicals operating in Syria have being expelled from all over the country including members of numerous terrorist organizations for the last two years. But in the south, the situation is not so clear.
It should be recalled that bordering with Jordan southern de-escalation zone was negotiated in Astana and established in May 2017. In early July, its status was clarified during the talks between the representatives of Russia, the United States, and Jordan. That time, the US and Jordan, as guarantor countries, pledged not only to ensure the observance of the ceasefire by the armed opposition but also to continue the fight against terrorism inside the zone.
Firstly, the bulk of ‘the southern zone’ was controlled in fact by the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) which was provided with money and weapons by Washington and Tel Aviv as well as with the regular humanitarian convoys.
However, the situation on the ground in that area has changed significantly since the summer of 2017. The experts claim approximately 55% of zone’s territory passed under the control of ISIS and al-Nusra to date. The total number of jihadists there comprises more than 5 thousand people.
Such a development prompted to raise the question of an operation to eliminate terrorists in the de-escalation area. No wonder Israel has become among the first to support clearing borderlines of the radicals. Tel Aviv even agreed to endure SAA’s returning up to the demarcation line in the Golan Heights which was really too difficult to embrace. The interest of Netanyahu is obvious. After all, so many terrorists located just near the Syrian-Israeli border are over the top, even for him.
Thus, Israel insisted on the withdrawal of pro-Iranian Shiite forces deep into the Syrian territory, as a condition for supporting the counterterrorist operation in ‘the southern zone’. It was done, as we know.
The Syrian Arab Army subsequently began to plan an offensive but the operation was postponed because of Washington’s position. The United States stated it would not allow the Syrian army to enter the so-called de-escalation zone.
The US decides to create ‘the southern zone’ having far-reaching benefits, in fact. Apparently, by providing the radicals with money and weapons and by turning a blind eye to ISIS expansion the White House all the while has been preparing a foothold to attack Damascus located less than 100 kilometers from this zone of de-escalation. Does Washington strive to retain at least something to continue reverberating around Syria even at the hands of terrorists?
Sophie Mangal
Independent political analyst
Wednesday, 20 June 2018 07:04

Anant Mishra is a security analyst with expertise in counter-insurgency and counter-terror operations.

His policy analysis has featured in national and international journals and conferences on security affairs

The systematic fall of the city of Mosul in mid-2014 by self-proclaimed Islamic State shocked and awed not only the military and intelligence community all over the world but also highlighted the fragile military and civilian administrative institutions in Iraq. With widespread fall of Iraqi cities, the civilian administration and military leadership relentlessly blamed each other on rampant fall of four highly armed and well-trained military divisions. The military leadership blamed civilian bureaucracy for providing inadequate financial assistance, whereas the latter accused military leaders of systematic corruption, large-scale desertion, poor training mechanisms and violent struggle within the ranks. Undoubtedly both the institutions were correct, but one of the principal reason which led to systematic fall of Mosul was bureaucratic-military relations. The administrative head of civilian bureaucracy was under the then Prime Minister’s leadership, with no over-watch mechanisms set-up in place, the military slowly and gradually became highly ineffective, inefficient and sectarian.

Fearing a coup d’état from middle military leadership, the then premier Maliki (Prime Minister between 2006 to 2014), maintained a firm grip over the military personally. To an extent, Maliki systematically involved bureaucratic oversight and interference in key military decisions. He took decisions on promotions within ranks and equipment assimilation, playing the role of institutionally established political actors (Ministry of Defense and the Parliament’s Security and Defense Committee) oversee civil-military relationship. Furthermore, he limited the participation of armed forces in defense-centric policies and its evaluation, Maliki diminished their institutional/organizational capacity and tactical, operational ability during combat, depriving the government of necessary vital expertise. Moreover, for other reasons, the Iraqi Commanders at Brigade and Battalion level were equally unmotivated and unwilling to carry out essential tasks or participate in decision making.

The traditional Iraqi Army was disbanded in 2003 due to their intense relationship with Saddam Hussain, yet the majority of the officer corps was reinstated post-2005 because the reconstruction of the Iraqi army was too time-consuming lawlessness in the country. However, their return to the service coped up with the loss of necessary expertise, the consequences of such abrupt inclusion in a war-torn society, was to the grave to count: rampant corruption, systematic segregation mistreatment between new and old recruits, followed by the absence of much-needed feedback. These reinstated officers and enlists did not trust the American military doctrine used to reconstruct the Iraqi Army. More importantly, these officers drastically failed to establish a real understanding with higher commands or to share their traditional institutional knowledge, training, and expertise to the Maliki government.

Politically induced sectarianism further broke the military backbone within the armed forces, which was irreparable. The hiring of civilian bureaucracy in Post-2003 Iraq was predominantly based on ethnic and religion, and this pattern exceedingly replicated merit-based appointments in the upper echelon. There were specific quotas or the muhasasa. The quota system drastically affected the appointments in the officer corps exclusively of the upper echelon— which were predominantly Sunni Arabs, through quota, the Shia Arabs and the Kurds now outnumbered the traditional Sunni appointees.

Post-war construction and negative exercised outcome

The rampant re-construction of Iraq’s civil-military relationship post-ousting Saddam came at a time when the insurgency was at its peak. During the time of American forces battling remnants of Saddam loyalists, Washington hurridly established a new government in the later months of 2003. Since Washington had already planned to withdraw all boots on the ground by 2007, this plan excessively pressured much fragile and novel Iraqi military institutions particularly in a time when insurgency against the American led forces was increasing. The American troops were not prepared to combat insurgency which forced them to deploy vital resources against the insurgents, which further prevented critical nurturing of Iraqi forces.

Recruitment and training of Iraqi forces were further stepped up in 2005; however, when insurgency rose to its peak, in 2007, the recruitment experienced a massive dive. Roughly fourteen thousand troops were indited in the Iraqi military after every five weeks. In a time span of approximately six years, the Iraqi army grew almost quadruple of their traditional size, with over 200,000 officers and enlists. However, roughly every officer had to go through training procedure, and the training did not last for more than three to five weeks, when compared to US military training mechanism, the Iraqi soldiers were indited post boot camp.

This sudden hustle in training and recruitment left the officer corps discontent, as, middle and upper echelon officers took years to enhance their skill and experience. By 2008, over 73% of officers and roughly 69% of enlisting positions were filled, a massive divide which would take approximately ten more years to regain its usual strength. Officers were the steering wheel of the Iraqi military. Exclusively in scenario’s where the military foundations were re-laid, in case of Iraq’s post 2003-military build-up, the roles and responsibilities of the officer corps became vital in strengthening bond within the military.

Desperately looking for experienced officers, Washington began to indite officers who had served during Saddam regime. This subsequent reliance led to the appointment of over 70% of officers and roughly every General Officer Commanding, with experiences from Saddam’s regime.

Furthermore, the Defence and Security Committee drastically failed to strengthen Iraqi military’s foundations. Members of the committee rarely met at the parliament since insurgency, and violent clashes with US military forces made it difficult for them to travel; notably when a bomb exploded and killed a member of the committee during parliament briefing. The explosion within the walls of well-fortified green zone highlighted exponentially rising insurgency with an ability to strike even within Green Zone.

During the initial post-Saddam term, the parliament was forced to adjourn for numerous sessions since not less than a quarter of quorum members had turned up. Additionally, specific religious community intentionally boycotted parliament sessions to express their dissatisfaction.

Moreover, members in support of the cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, along with al-Iraqiya party and Pro-Kurdish parties intentionally declined to participate in parliament quorums. This resulted in unvigilant governance, which continued till 2008. Only until the fall of 2008, when the government did realize the extent of insurgency and violence, government institutions (partially) agreed to maintain oversight. The Iraqi government could urgently call few officers during sessions and continued to fight against absentees. Furthermore, the divisive victory of Maliki’s party in 2010, literally hindered the functioning of the Iraqi government throughout that year. In the years before Maliki, neither did the Defence and Security Committee employed measures to overwatch the defense sector nor the parliament established any concrete steps to institute or strengthen defensive capability of the country. The presence of parties during quorums in parliament significantly reached two-thirds by 2011. Moreover, when Islamic State took began taking over significant Iraqi territories, the attendance exponentially grew to over 86%.

Similar to constraints faced by many Iraqi Ministry in implementing reconstruction program, the Ministry of Defence too witnessed numerous unavoidable hurdles. Since the traditional plan of the Coalition Provisional Authority was only to implement necessary reforms within the Ministry, instead it began re-structuring the Ministry itself. For the first time in history, the Ministry of Defence comprised of civilian bureaucracy rather than military.

It did, however, portray an image of bureaucratic control, with a new institutional structure but with no traditional organizational or operating principle. Additionally, the rapidly growing Ministry of Defence was extensively understaffed, which forced US military and Iraqi partners to side-line it from participating in critical defense-centric decisions. Furthermore, the Ministry was hastily established in less than six months, and employees were appointed without notifying Iraqi partners; this resulted in the establishment of an organization which was institutionally fragile, unstable, immature, devised exclusively for Iraqi partners who took no responsibility of it.

In the background of rampant violence and insurgency, Washington began re-construction of critical institutions without considering the extensive distorted relationship between civil and military leadership, particularly reinstituting infrastructure for Iraqi partners without their participation or insight, exclusively in a scenario of fragile distributed religious-ethnic society.

Maliki’s actions, reactions, and consequences: Killing the Iraqi military instincts

The then newly elected Premier Maliki, who assumed power just months before the US officially handing over Iraqi military control to the government in late 2007, was concerned towards Iraqi military’s interference in national politics. A cautioned leader, who had witnessed subsequent military intervention in Iraq’s national politics in the past, knew the possible outcome. He had seen toppling of three governments in successive coup’s; furthermore, since its independence in 1932, Iraq had witnessed six coups and numerous counter-coups along with seven unsuccessful attempts by the military to gain control, of which, three had occurred during Saddam Hussain’s regime. Maliki was determined not to witness the similar fate.

Moreover, before Maliki’s rise to power, Iraqi political leadership had devised ‘coup-resistant’ tactics which were mainly employed at senior military leadership. However, Maliki applied harsh measures, which was not only limited to centralizing critical military decisions under his command but also systematically exploiting the military to retain influence over elected leaders from different sects, to exclude them from participation.

Maliki established paramilitary units and intelligence establishments which were then tasked to monitor actions by the military. Maliki, on numerous occasions, interfered in the relationship between officers and enlists.

Maliki then created the Office of the Commander in Chief, which was tasked to assert control over the armed forces, which he carefully harnessed to avoid sister security institutions which were stakeholders of civil-military relationship. Initially established as a liaison office by the Primer, Maliki appointed Farouk al-Araji, who was not only his ally but a veteran in the Saddam Hussain’s military and attained the rank of the Adjutant General and subsequently became the General of the armed forces. He not only rescinded the decisions at Ministry of Interior and Defence but also took precedence over judgments on crucial security matters. Operating outside the traditional chain of command, Farouk al-Araji was only answerable to the Prime Minister.

On taking over decision-making capacity of the Ministry of Interior and Defence, the post of Commander in Chief transformed into a centralized power, taking decisions at all security matters, incapacitating the decision-making processes of many ministries. However, Maliki decision to centralize power was faced challenged by many civilian ranks, but they were unable to gather support and were too weak to question the powers of the Prime Minister. The oversight capability was mostly inadequate, and increasing deterioration in domestic security further moved attention of relevant authorities to immediate issues.

Officers openly criticising Maliki’s centralisation of power were not only side-lined but also subsequently replaced and punished. Once such example was of the then Defence Minister Abdul Qadir Obeidi, who took efforts to eliminate subsequent politicisation of critical ministries and armed forces, was accused of maintaining a relationship with the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party, an unproven accusation and was barred from filing nomination in 2010 elections.

Furthermore, Shia cleric leaders such as Muqtada al-Sadr along with Masoud Barzani, a Kurdish leader, openly criticised Maliki and his actions. Sadr, who was heading one of the largest politico-military groups and a former Maliki ally, openly criticised Maliki. Maliki sent Sadr into an exile and disbanded his militia movement permanently.

Although, returning to Iraq in 2011, Sadr, aggressively criticised Maliki in open forum warning the then Maliki government to presume the responsibility to defend the people of Iraq while taking staunch actions against the corrupt and inefficient officers in security establishment who were hungry for power and recognition. The then President of Kurdistan in Iraq, Barzani, openly criticised Maliki of being an authoritarian and presuming command over all armed forces. Barzani, then, put an end to his cooperation with Maliki government and raised the Kurdish flag for succession to power. Citing unconstitutional behaviour and poor leadership, Barzani called for immediate dissolution of Iraqi military leadership and accused Maliki of taking command over all security matters. He then criticised the head of parliament, the cabinet and the President for refusal to act against authoritarianism.

In the absence of strong opposition, Maliki employed numerous measures to exercise control over security matters. He formulated regional headquarters and unified law enforcement and military operations in all major provinces that had experienced worst violence in the 2007, giving leadership charge to loyal generals. Maliki then exploited such commands, and over-ride numerous decisions made by security establishments and relevant ministries.

He then formulated multiple battle plans without a formal recommendation from crucial stakeholders and deployed military units on his own will, apprehending and prosecuting individuals on charges of dissention.

On Maliki’s orders, the Commander in Chief brought numerous elite units under their control. The Ministry of Defence’s control over unit movements and mobilisation was effectively challenged and overridden and undermined. Moreover, the headquarter of the Special Operation Forces was also transferred from Ministry of Defense to the Office of the Commander-in-Chief and subsequently became Maliki’s guards and was primarily used to target his political opponents specifically. Earlier, in order to target a specific individual the approval from National Security Ministerial Committee, comprising of the Prime Minister, the Iraqi Military Joint Chief of Staff, along with the Minister of Justice, Interior and Defence, was necessary. Maliki, in late 2010, declared himself the Commander in Chief, a post in accordance to the Iraqi constitution was assigned to the Prime Minister, to which the legislation was neither passed nor the powers of the position disclosed. Irrespective to this, Maliki declared absolute authority as Commander in Chief, while calling for re-counting of votes during the 2010 elections subsequently dismissing leadership from the Commission on Anticorruption and Integrity.

In effort to appoint officers loyal to him, Maliki interfered in military appointments. Instead of seeking parliamentary approval for military appointments, Maliki appointed numerous officers by initially citing his decisions to be temporary in nature, and massively recruited individuals with less or no military experience in the officer corps. These integration officers were exclusively tasked to run and monitor a spy agency answerable only to Maliki. Decisions taken by upper military echelon were frequently overturned, and those who tried to restrict interference by Shia militia, were immediately sacked side lining military COI or chain of command. Moreover, Kurdish officers were terminated from military service and subsequently replaced by Maliki loyalists. Importantly, officers supporting Maliki were not questioned or held accountable for their failures during internal investigation or counter-terror operations.18 The Maliki trend of appointment subsequently diminished merit-based promotions.

Maliki’s blunders had enormous consequences: the Iraqi armed forces were too weak to conduct a coup d’état. Furthermore, the military, in spite of numbers on their side, miserably failed to employ countermeasures against the Islamic State which resulted in subsequent fall of Mosul.

“Fall like a house of cards”: Frustration, Discontent within security establishments

Failure of civil-military cooperation was not limited to Maliki regime’s autocratic governance, armed forces and military institutions shared equal responsibility. From the top, the wedge within upper echelon was growing, which severely compromised military’s leadership to communicate with civilian bureaucracy.

There was massive discontent within the officer corps, which was rampant from multiple decision failures. Loyalists and young recruits regained middle and lower rankings whereas officers corps were concentrated to the rank of Colonel and below. This further sandwiched most experienced soldiers in numerous units, creating a culture insensitive atmosphere notably when the top leadership comprised mostly of Sunni officers trained under Soviet-Baathist alliance, whereas the non-commissioned and junior commissioned ranks received their training under the US, were predominantly Shia.

There was profound discontent between the two groups: the non-commissioned officers and JCO’s adapted US military decentralized structure, whereas the middle-ranked officers resisted. The experienced officers were more comfortable with the traditional chain of command under which they fought Iran-Iraq, Kuwait or the Gulf. This chain of command was primarily based on rigid structures, the predominant use of artillery and inadequate communication within ranks.

Furthermore, the introduction of advanced training mechanisms which allowed a swift transition of experienced military officers was implemented only at the lower positions. Moreover, The National Defence College in Iraq and Iraqi War College, which could have provided necessary training to upper echelon military leadership, began functional in late 2011.

In a class capacity of not more than 30 students, the Iraqi NDC had few officers in one course. Washington, however, did try to bridge the rift between upper and lower ranks, even instituted a particular working group, but many middle-ranking officers resisted, seeing this as an intrusion and violation of traditional military knowledge.

Moreover, the upper echelon military ranks failed to openly and constructively instigate or participate in dialogue with civilian bureaucratic leadership. Witnessing an aura of mistrust and sectarian-politicisation of military positions, coupled with the sudden imposition of US army traditions, and systematic dissolution of their traditional military knowledge, was a predominant preview of middle and lower-ranking officers. Keeping the new encroached military culture aside, Iraqi military leadership retained the minimal disciplinary procedures with no room for constructive discussions or criticism, with a concentration on specific upper echelon officers for decisions. The officers, on one occasion, declined to enhance their military knowledge or adopt new innovative military skills, depriving civilian bureaucracy of their extremely vital expertise and insight.

This further depleted the participation of officer corps in healthy yet necessary decision-making processes in the domestic and external security sector. The officer corps was throughout silent, and responsibility fell mostly on senior officers who then maintained traditional knowledge of civil-military relationship which they learned pre-Saddam Hussain regime.

Sectarianization of the Iraqi military

The systematic sectarianization of Iraqi military post U.S. invasion, corroded the command structure of the military. However, in the pre-Saddam Hussain era, sectarianism was rampant but silent, although post US invasion, the new political order emphasised it. The Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) appointed individuals mainly on religious sect basis, and this was further reinforced by systematic de- Ba’athification, which further fuelled violence within the community. This paved the way for political benefactors which used sectarian violence to influence communities and seek their votes. The voting pattern became predominantly sectarian. The impact was primarily seen at national levels, where Iraq’s constitutionally allocated quota system was meticulously exploited to appease certain sects, which resulted in preferential treatment in the military, diminishing its image as a national entity. The ethnic centric quota system was exploited both at official and unofficial levels, which remain restricted at the officer corps, leaving behind predominant Shia sect at lower ranks.

In accordance to the Constitution of Iraq, 2005, appointments taken place through merit were fair, although the term “fair” remained fluid and undefined. Although the quota system was limited to officer corps, specific appointments were also influenced by quota. On the contrary to Lebanese military, the command post within the Iraqi army is not designated to a particular religious sect, which highlights Iraq’s sectarian independence. However, on practically, the process paved the way for many religious denominations to lobby for preferential treatment, which severely compromised transparency and established meritocracy in the system, recruiting outside the lines of Lebanese sectarianism induced organizations.

The representation could not be fair because of unsystematic spreading of multiple sects and ethnicities within the military ranks. The Shia Arabs, Sunni Arabs, and Kurds were heavily concentrated within the middle ranks, most of the officer and upper echelon were Sunni Arabs. In an effort to restructure the military on ethnic and sectarian lines, a large percentage of Shia officers were quickly promoted, which angered Sunni Arabs. This was a shift from traditional recruitment lines since during pre-Saddam years, Sunni Arabs and dominated military leadership and post-2003, Shia officers were given quick promotions, which become one the principle reasons behind acute discontent within military ranks; was further reinforced by political interference in recruitment and promotions further reinforced this discontent. Traditionally ethnic and sect-based quotas did not pose any issue, but liberalizing the criteria for promotion of Shia officers created immense discontent within Sunni Arabs.

In command stations and regional headquarters where ethnic and sect-based proportions were marginal in compared to the region itself, clashes occurred. The notorious Fifth Division which had a predominantly Shia majority were accused of committing mass atrocities, and crimes against humanity in their deployed Sunni dominated Diyala Governorate.

The principal issue here is beyond the militaristic realms, laying predominantly in regional politics. Kurdish communities remained distant from strengthening or maintaining a robust Iraqi military as their long-term objective remained independence. Sunni population, on the other hand, continued to struggle against a discriminated system, making sure that their voice was heard. Shia political leadership, however, continued to fuel sectarianism, this ensured their dominance in the government.

However, it will be incorrect to point towards the absence of nationalism in Iraq merely, political party such as al-Iraqiya remains nationalist and has gained significant influence in regional politics, progressing even ahead of Maliki’s party in 2010 elections with more than 24.7%, however, it will be safe to say that, sectarianism did profoundly influence the Iraqi military. This further compromised their ability to combat IS in functional, organized unit. The ability to not believe in a cause or a notion much beyond them resulted in large-scale desertion within the Iraqi army, which was widespread from regional headquarters to command levels, which sealed the fate of Mosul. The absence of sheer trust coupled by immense discontent within the military ranks, which hindered in the creation of a capable, dedicated national military.


After intense clashes between the Iraqi military and Islamic State, the Iraqi army was able to successful retake Mosul from IS control. The author witnessed the return of nationalistic sentiments within the Iraqi army, which was thoroughly absent. This was possible because of numerous initiatives were taken by the Iraqi government. Post fall of Mosul, Iraqi government carefully analyzed its failures and released a report citing possible reasons behind the incompetent military force. They initiated a list of 36 officers which had been mostly responsible for military’s ineffective response against IS. Those responsible also included former Premier Maliki, the then governor of Nineveh Province, former defense minister al-Dulaimi, the head of Iraqi land forces and his deputy, followed by the head of Nineveh command.

The Iraqi government then dismissed over 59 officers while retiring over 300 officers from military service. The Office of the Commander in Chief was permanently abolished, a thorough investigation was launched to route out corruption and US military training program for Iraqi armed forces development was aggressively launched.

Appointed to the office of Prime Minister in 2014, Haider al-Abadi carried numerous progressive initiatives. He decentralized government institutions, established a dedicated organization to combat corruption, abolished the Vice President office, and de-sectarianized armed forces. This resulted in systematic coordination between civil and military leadership which not only boosted the morale of armed forces but also made it possible for them re-take Mosul. The Defence Ministry was empowered, the Parliament was further strengthened, and military leadership was checked by responsible civilian bureaucracy. Al-Abadi not only ended sectarianism but rei traduced meritocracy and abolished the quota system, which strengthened military architecture. These reforms as mentioned earlier not only re-instated confidence within the military ranks but reinstated trust within the Iraqi community which they not only induced a sense of nationality but also made a part of themselves.

Author Anant Mishra

Anant Mishra is a security analyst with expertise in counter-insurgency and counter-terror operations. His policy analysis has featured in national and international journals and conferences on security affairs.




Tuesday, 19 June 2018 07:26
American analyst, writer and columnist Paul Goble commented on Eurasia Dairy's questions on progress in negotiations between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un.  
Eurasia Diary: How will Singapore Summit contribute to peace and stability in Korean peninsula and Pacific? 
Paul Goble: These talks open the way for progress, but only if there is serious follow on work.  Most summits reflect work already done; this is a promissory note that something will be done. Given the proclivity of both leaders to shift or lose interest in any particular direction, the Singapore meeting may come to be seen either as simply a public relations stunt or the beginning of something more positive. The meeting itself does not provide the answer to that.
Eurasia Diary: What did make Kim Jong Un come to the negotiation table? 
Paul Goble: Kim benefitted from having the talks. Any leader of a small country that has been at odds with a superpower wins if the superpower decides to have its leader meet with the small country’s leader. Kim thus got what he wants. Trump appears to have gotten one thing he wants: a kind of breakthrough he can advertise at home among his political supporters and celebrate as something he claims he is the only one who could do.
Eurasia Diary: What to expect from Russia and China regarding the Summit? 
Paul Goble: Both will be waiting to see what happens. These two powers retain all the influence they had in Pyongyang unless Singapore becomes something more than now appears likely.  Kim will be happy to milk both them and the US for all he can to convert himself from a terrorist outsider to a statesman, and all three will have to figure out how to get what they want while Kim gets what he does. 
Yunis Abdullayev


Monday, 18 June 2018 07:30

Azerbaijan is one of the countries that are generously endowed with a lot of natural resources, and people often come here to improve their health. Infrastructure of resort areas in the republic is growing rapidly, many hotels and boarding houses are being built for every taste and prosperity. The country has a large number of hot mineral springs - "istisu", which, depending on the chemical composition used to treat a number of diseases. For example, a mineral spring in Galaalti is indispensable in the treatment of renal ailments, and the thermal waters of Masalli can save you from a whole bunch of ailments. Another therapeutic factor in Azerbaijan is natural salt. Particularly famous is the salt mountain - Duzdag, in Nakhchivan, where a modern clinic operates.

Galaalti - water grinds the stone

The therapeutic and recreational complex of Galaalti, located at an altitude of 1000 m above sea level in 120 km from Baku in the settlement of Shabran has a long history. In 1969, deposits of medicinal mineral water were discovered here in the foothills of Galaalti, near which a sanatorium was built, which quickly became an all-Union health resort in the USSR. The main therapeutic factor in the complex was a unique bicarbonate sodium-calcium water with the content of organic substances such as Naftusya, which in many respects surpasses its closest analogue - the water of the Ukrainian resort of Truskavets.

Today, the modern medical-recreational complex of Galaalti operates here, which has little in common with that old Soviet sanatorium. Unchanged is one thing - the same unique water, the glory of which continues to grow.

About the healing properties of Naftusya mineral water was known for a long time - the first mention in the literature of its healing effect date back to 1578. One name speaks for itself - it is the only medicinal water in the world with an increased content of organic substances of oil origin. In the forest, 7 water sources are identified, which have a large reserve. The flow rate of water is more than 10,000 liters per minute. Naftusya of this deposit is extremely rich in organic substances, which is the determining indicator of the medicinal properties of the water in this region. The unique natural complex of organic substances possessed by the water of Galaalti makes it the only curative mineral water in the world that has been recognized by many urological doctors of many countries.

The water of Galaalti can be drunk only directly at the source, as it is not subject to storage and transportation, because of the presence of volatile organic substances. The modern medical and diagnostic center of Galaalti, equipped with unique equipment, in which the latest technologies of the national balneology and physiotherapy effectively combine with the best world achievements of medicine, offers all conditions for treatment and recreation.

The most effective water from Galaalti In the treatment of urolithiasis in various forms, gastroenterological and other diseases. In the corridor of the clinic you can see a stand on a wall with dozens of test tubes, in which salt and stones from the kidneys and pancreas of patients are collected, thanks to the impact of this incredible force of water.

Possessing also immunological action, the water renews the defenses of the organism, contributes to the elimination of inflammatory processes in organs and tissues, the excretion of metabolic products and toxic substances, thereby preventing the early aging of the organism.

The complex includes a fashionable 5-star hotel with ample opportunities for organizing leisure activities for guests. It is built right in the thicket of the mountain forest under a rock on which the remains of the once inviolate ancient fortress of Chirag-gala (from the Azeri - tower-lamp) erected in the 4th-6th centuries at an altitude of 1232 meters above sea level stand proudly.

Masalli - hot healing

Another region of Azerbaijan - Masalli, has long been famous for its healing springs, the most famous of which is Istisu (literally "warm water"). This thermal spring breaks through in several places on the bank of the Vilyashchay River on the slope of Mount Dombalov above the sea level at 1650 meters. The source has not dried up for many hundreds of years, but no one knows the exact history of its occurrence. People from ancient times considered this water as a panacea for a thousand diseases.

In 1960, a scientist, doctor Mir Kazym Aslanly-Sareng established that this water includes hydrogen sulphite, calcium sodium chlorine, magnesium hydroxy carbon, iodine (30 milligrams per liter). Water comes from a depth of 90-250 m in hot form (about 69 degrees) and is indicated in the treatment of many diseases. Such as rheumatism and its consequences, sciatica, skin, kidney and urinary tract diseases. etc. In this treatment should be carried out under special instructions and under the supervision of a doctor. One course should consist of 10-15 therapeutic baths.

This discovery of Aslanly-Sareng caused great interest. From the state side, twelve scientists from specialized clinics and leading scientific centers from all over the Soviet Union were invited to the healing source of Istisu, who confirmed the findings of Aslanly-Sareng. After that, in 1971, the healing source was given the status of a national health resort and began to be intensively mastered.

Today this sanatorium is called "Fatimei-Zahra" and continues to receive visitors. All procedures are conducted under the supervision of doctors. On arrival, every guest gets a spa book, which indicates the diagnosis and details the procedures shown.

In "Fatimei-Zahra" you can not only get a full treatment, but also have a good rest. For example, relax in the waters of the Vilyashchay river. On one of the sections of the river the waters of the thermal spring, falling on the rocks, mix with the cool waters of the river, forming something like natural warm baths. Here in the water everywhere there are small brisk fish that pinch bathers for open skin areas. It is believed that they also contribute to cure for skin diseases.

Nearby on another part of the river there is a natural source of healing water, nicknamed "mada", which in Azerbaijani means "stomach". As you probably already guessed, the water from this source is shown in diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. It is curious that this source was chosen by small harmless crabs, which are hiding here almost under each stone.

Not far from the sources of Istisu, at the foot of the Yanar Dağ mountain, there is another sanatorium. From the Azerbaijani language Yanar Dağ translates as "burning mountain". And, indeed, if you climb up a mountain of narrow steps leading to the top (somebody counted at least 256), then an amazing picture will open up: flames, bursting straight from the ground. It is glowing with natural gases accumulating here for centuries.

However, it is not necessary to climb so high as to see a miracle: on the territory of the sanatorium you will find an equally surprising natural phenomenon - Yanar Bulağ ("burning spring"). Its nature also lies in the gases that escape to the surface of the earth along with the thermal water. Red tongues of flame circling above a sulfur source in eternal dance. The water temperature in this source is higher than in the sources located in the nearby sanatorium "Fatimei-Zahra" and is 76 degrees. Water is pre-collected in a tank, where it is cooled to an acceptable temperature for the human body (34-36 degrees), from where it is delivered to rooms with baths and mini pools.

The water in Yanar Bulağ is saturated with sulfides (hydrogen sulphide), calcium, sodium, chlorine and its compounds, iodine, magnesium, methane and other elements that have a beneficial effect on the body and are indispensable in the treatment of hypertension, liver and biliary tract diseases, gastrointestinal diseases, hemorrhoids, arthritis and other disorders.

Nakhchivan - breathe deeply

According to the World Health Organization, about 15 million people worldwide suffer from bronchial asthma. Treatment of many diseases, including asthma, is more effective in the conditions of the salt mine, i.e. speleotherapy (in Greek "spelain" - a cave). Such mines operate in Poland in the city of Krakow, in Ukraine in the village of Solotvino, Uzhgorod and in Azerbaijan in the city of Nakhchivan.

Being one of the symbols of Nakhchivan and having natural reserves of salt, numbering 90 million tons, Duzdag (Salt Mountain) also has medicinal properties. In Duzdag all conditions for reception of having a rest are created. In particular, here is the famous Duzdağ complex, which has its own hotel and physiotherapy center.

The hospital of the Center consists of the aboveground and underground parts. The first is located in Duzdag and in the hotel Duzdağ, and the second - under the mountain at a depth of 300 meters from the entrance to the second main mining workshop of saline mines. The hospital, located in the hotel Duzdağ, consists of five galleries, which houses wards with bunks, there is a cafeteria, a TV lounge, a library.

The treatment of patients is carried out under the supervision of medical personnel. In the underground clinic patients of all ages can be treated. However, one must take into account that the treatment courses differ from each other. Children live in the hospital for 8 days, and adults - 16 days. The salt mines present here have an antiallergenic environment. This is due to the fact that in the underground department in all seasons the temperature fluctuates between 18.5-20 degrees, therefore the treatment can be carried out all year round. After the end of the course in adults, 65-70% is observed, and in children 80-85% of health improvement.

During the day, you can relax in the hotel's comfortable rooms: relieve stress and fatigue by visiting the water park, outdoor and indoor swimming pools, basketball, football courts, tennis courts and fitness centers.

Note that the salt of Nakhchivan differs from sea salt. The original Nakhchivan salt is ecologically clean, it does not contain heavy minerals, and it has medicinal properties. Magnesia in the composition of Nakhchivan's salt makes it possible to use it also for the treatment of patients with cardiovascular diseases.

The exploitation of the Duzdag field began around the 3rd millennium BC. In this land there are still ancient mines, where salt was extracted manually and was transported by horse. The industrial extraction of Duzdag salt began in 1927. Now here the annual production of salt is 6-8 thousand tons. The processed salt is realized in crystalline and crushed forms. In production workshops, 66 grams of iodine are added to one ton of ground salt to prevent thyroid diseases.

Emil Eyyubov




Monday, 18 June 2018 07:27

By Azad Hasanli 

Russia’s ACRA rating agency expects the real growth of Azerbaijan’s economy to reach 1.5-1.8 percent in 2018, Zhannur Ashigali, deputy director of the ACRA Research and Forecasting Group, told Trend.

"The real growth of the country's economy will increase up to 2-2.5 percent in 2019," he said. "ACRA’s forecasts for this year correspond to the forecasts of the Azerbaijani government, which also expects real GDP growth at 1.5 percent. For 2019, the government predicts the economic growth at four percent."

According to ACRA, consumer inflation during this period will be in the range of 6-6.5 percent with a slowdown trend towards the end of the period.

As for the factors that can support the country's economic growth, the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP), which is part of the Southern Gas Corridor, which envisages gas supply from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz Stage 2 to the European markets, will strengthen the country’s economic growth indicators, but will not change the general economic development.

"ACRA expects Azerbaijan’s economy to enter a stable-positive phase, but economic growth will be restrained," Ashigali said.

According to the Azerbaijani State Statistics Committee, the country's GDP was 1.2 percent, the non-oil economy grew by 2.1 percent in January-April 2018. Inflation was 3.5 percent in January-April 2018.



Friday, 15 June 2018 00:00

In 38 km from Baku there is the most ancient settlement of the Absheron peninsula - Buzovna, its roots that go back to the III millennium BC.Definitions of the name Buzovna are several. According to one version, the village is called the "buzovna" grass from a cough that grows here since time immemorial. The second version says that the name from Tat is "entering the water nose".And the inhabitants themselves believe that the name of their village means "Buz ovoo - ice hunting".


Following the footsteps of Caucasian Albania, we are accustomed to associating it with such mountainous regions of Azerbaijan as for example: Gabala, Oguz, Sheki, Balakan, Zagatala and so on.But we can also find a historical monument of the times of the Albanian kingdom on the Absheron peninsula, in the settlement of Buzovna, to which today's story is dedicated. In one of the quarters of Buzovna-Nazranli settlement the only Albanian temple on the Absheron Peninsula - Tarsa Piri, the people Alban Piri, built in the 3rd century AD, was preserved.

Tarsa piri is also called the Tomb of the Sun, which is proof that there used to be a pagan shrine here, on the site of which the Christian temple was later created. Unfortunately, only fragments of the temple are preserved today, but still not devoid of a halo of mystery.In ancient times there were burials of saints whose graves have not survived until our time.


And not far from the temple are other ancient burial places, with the typical symbolism of that time. In the people this cemetery bears the names Albanian or also the Cemetery of the Huns, dating from the third century BC.For some residents,

this temple is considered sacred. Here, candles are lit, ribbons are tied, and there is also a tradition to beat glasses, according to beliefs, meaning the expulsion of diseases. This attitude of the people to their own history causes admiration. Only thanks to joint efforts we can preserve the rich and deep history of our people and the memory of our predecessors, invisibly imprinted in the walls and outlines of the great monuments of antiquity ...

Research and photo: Sabit Djodjulu

Author: Ina Babaeva


Thursday, 14 June 2018 00:00

   Ancient Sakasena, now Sheki, is the oldest city lying on the southern foothills of the Greater Caucasus, about 2,500 years old. The history of Sheki is multilevel, bright, to the 3-5th centuries, which became part of the Caucasian Albania! The spirit of Great Albania still hovers over this ancient and beautiful corner of Azerbaijan, meeting in various settlements and woodlands.To great regret to tell the story of each Albanian monument in the territory of Sheki is not possible, due to scarce data or their complete absence. But to touch Sheki Albania through several of its creations we will try ............

     "The Mother of All Churches" is a unique architectural structure of the times of the Caucasian Albania in the village of Kish. It belongs to the 10th-12th centuries. According to some historians, it stands on the place of the first church founded by the Equal-to-the-Apostles Elisha in the 1st century AD. Thanks to the Norwegian scientist Thor Heyerdahl the artifacts found under the church altar were investigated, showing that this place refers to approximately 3000 BC. Which fully admits the idea that the apostle Elisha may have created only an altar, and the church itself was a kind of pagan construction earlier. On the territory of the temple, ancient burials dating from an earlier period were found, and possibly already existed at the time of the building of the temple.


Albanian temple in Bideiz is located from the village itself at a distance of one and a half to two kilometers. The location of the temple is such that it can be seen from any part of the village and from the main road Oguz-Sheki. It is relatively small, without special architectural delights. It has an altar, and just below the window opening are two holes and something like shelves, apparently intended for candles. All this place resembles a small sanctuary. At the temple, according to the villagers, there were ancient tombstones, in particular, without any inscriptions and symbols, possibly destroyed by time. The territory on which the temple stands and itself contributes to this. The streams during the bad weather in a matter of seconds turn into a devastating avalanche, carrying huge blocks of stone.

     Moving up the path, overgrown with trees from this sanctuary to the top of the mountain, you discover another temple that hid in a dense forest.The villagers themselves are not advised to visit this ancient monument because of the presence around wild animals. But nevertheless this temple is of great interest in itself. It is located on the top, right in the middle between the first Bideiz temple and the next temple in the Bash Küngüt, with the opposite the side of the mountain, to which we will soon come. It has a structure resembling a chimney. This suggests the idea that all the temples are connected and the central one is a signal object in case of disaster.

Continuing its way down the slope, in the direction of the village of Bash Küngüt, you come to a place called Getgayıt, among the perennial stately oaks, which the inhabitants consider sacred. The place is most likely associated with the presence of ancient burial places, which are also almost completely destroyed by time and are visible only to fragments of tombstones. People visit this place, tie ribbons to branches of old oak, leave children's booties or shoes, coins are scattered around. Probably there is a burial of a certain saint who is healed , saves from trouble and give a blessing to those who ask. This place is full of secrets and mysticism, the solution of which would shed light on many, now unknown details for the reconstruction of a clearer picture of a bygone era.




On the approach to the third temple in the village of Bash Küngüt, it seems that it is completely identical to the two previous ones. The temple is almost completely destroyed. But coming closer and looking closer, you notice that it is quite a larger area, unlike the others and is surrounded by a stone wall. The temple consists of several rooms, is equipped with a high ceiling and has a common courtyard. Perhaps this temple played a more significant role in the region and served as a meeting place for parishioners and local clergy.


The village of Bash Küngüt itself is a very ancient settlement, according to legend, named after a certain general named Kungut. "Kut, Gut" from Türkic means "Blessed", and Kühn - the Sun. "Blessed by the sun." Similar names are very common among the Türkic ethnos. For example: Tangut - "Blessed by the Almighty Tengri" or Turgut, etc. The name of the settlement in honor of the commander is not a reliable fact. Perhaps this is connected with pre-Christian worldview of local residents. And hence the name Kyungut - "Blessed by the Sun."


Other variations with the name Bash Kungut are acceptable, but there is unfortunately no exact information. Sheki Albania is a very important and inalienable link in the history of the Great State. Its ancient temple complexes and burials are beacons on the path of a more detailed study of the Caucasian Albania, so unfairly remaining in the shadow .....


Research and photos: Sabit Djodjulu

Author: Ina Babaeva