Author: Semiha Kashani

Kiev, London (25/3 – 50) Kiev is being bombed by the Russians, but despite the dangers the indiscriminate bombing brings, Ukrainians have their humor, and a bit of the “so what” attitude. Let’s call her Maria, because we don’t know her correct name and we don’t want to endanger the young coffee aficionado to targeted Russian attacks targeting the Ukrainian spirit of everything can be fixed with a good cup of coffee. The young Ukrainian barista keeps working despite today’s Russian missile strike destroying large parts of her cafe. “They won’t be able to break us,” Maria tells the reporter…

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London (10/03 – 77.78)Up-and-down relations between Iran and Tajikistan in the past decade shot up again after Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s official visit to Dushanbe on November 8-9, his second trip to the Tajik capital in 18 months. Raisi’s visit to Tajikistan was symbolically important amid a rapprochement between the countries that overshadowed the relatively standard batch of bilateral agreements that were signed. During the trip, Raisi and his Tajik counterpart, Emomali Rahmon, announced a historic visa-free travel agreement for their citizens and deals in trade, transportation, and culture, among others. High-ranking visits have become a regular occurrence between the…

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Tajikistan’s existential project to build the colossal 335-meter-high Roghun hydropower dam is proceeding apace, but costs are spiraling, and to a level that is making it hard to see where the government is going to find the funds needed to finish the work. To complicate matters for Dushanbe, this is happening against the backdrop of calls from environmental watchdogs for international development lenders to pause the allocation of any future funds to Tajikistan pending a fresh assessment of the project. The extent of the budget overshoot is striking. In a press conference on February 16, Finance Minister Faiziddin Kahhorzoda revealed…

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DUSHANBE — Exorcism is a key source of income for Sabohiddin Shodiev, a popular cleric in his rural community on the outskirts of Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan. Shodiev — not his real name — says that every week he treats about 15 clients who ask him to expel what they believe is an evil spirit, or jinni, possessing them, or to rid them from “an evil eye.”The 53-year-old cleric has been practicing exorcisms — which he learned to do from his father — for more than two decades. Most of Shodiev’s clients come from Dushanbe and nearby districts, but…

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In the whirlwind of Sri Lankan politics, last week’s visit by Anura Kumara Dissanayake (AKD) to India carved a narrative that has both intrigued and polarised the political arena. This spectacle showcased the delicate art of political communication, underscoring the critical importance of reputation management and the nuanced dance of damage control in the face of adversity. For years, the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), questioning authority and challenging the status quo, found itself in an unfamiliar position – defending rather than accusing. The controversial trip to India marked a turning point. Critics pounced, dissecting every word, every move, with relentless…

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Infighting over the succession and growing frustration in the regions could shatter the stability that the Tajik president has been building for so many years. Next year will mark thirty years of Emomali Rahmon’s presidency in Tajikistan, now the only country in Central Asia that has not seen a change of leadership since the early 1990s. Unsurprisingly, there have been rumors of an imminent transition of power for a decade. The name of the successor is no secret: it’s Rahmon’s son, thirty-six-year-old Rustam Emomali. But there is no consensus within the president’s large family over the succession. Some of the…

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PA President’s son Tareq Abbas also holds positions in other ventures incorporated by offshore company. Leaked documents from Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca reveal Tareq Abbas, son of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, holds shares worth nearly $1 million in an offshore company with ties to the Palestinian Authority. The documents, leaked as part of the massive ‘Panama Papers’ scandal, show that a company called the Arab Palestinian Investment Company (APIC) was registered in September 1994 in the British Virgin Islands. Since then, the company’s economic portfolio has grown substantially, and is active in virtually every Palestinian economic sphere, including…

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Giant portraits of President Emomali Rahmon adorn even the most nondescript buildings in Tajikistan’s capital of Dushanbe. Throughout the country, his sayings are featured on posters and billboards. Their ubiquitous presence underscores the consolidation of power by Rahmon – officially described as “Founder of Peace and Unity, Leader of the Nation” – since he emerged victorious from the 1992-1997 Tajikistan civil war that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union. After three decades in power, he has established himself as an absolute ruler with no tolerance for dissent. Rahmon’s bid to centralize control includes efforts to silence political opponents, human rights activists, and independent…

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Brussel, Frankfurt (16/11 – 23) A levying of embargoes and export bans, the imposition of sanctions, erection of fearsome “license” (= restriction) protocol: there’s nothing new about this back-and-forth in world trade, in the eternal jousting for advantage among markets and nations. The clever Chinese imagined they had the world tea market all locked up until an earnest Scottish botanist carrying the telling name of “Robert Fortune” snuck into the Middle Kingdom to observe their agriculture, steal tea plants, and pick up tricks of tea processing. The Chinese global tea monopoly was busted wide open. The fortunate Mr. Fortune was…

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Much like its ideological counterparts at HispanTV (Iranian-owned) and Actualidad RT (Russian-owned), Telesur wraps its incitement into a sophisticated and slick twenty-four-hour news platform through its website, broadcasts, and social media presence. Though it is difficult to gauge its influence, numbers suggest that Telesur’s message is impactful. Telesur has two million followers on its Spanish X account, 117,500 on its English X account, and more than half a million on Instagram. Its YouTube account has over 1.7 million subscribers, with 100,000 new subscribers and almost 7.4 million video views since October 7 (It also posts its videos on the Daily Motion). The network traditionally pushes out conspiracy theories, fake news, “whataboutism,”…

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