Islam Karimov must be pleased. Instead of pursuing their proclaimed aim of toppling the Uzbek president's regime, the remnants of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) are fighting for survival. And not in Uzbekistan, but in the rugged, autonomous tribal areas of Pakistan along the border with Afghanistan. And they have little chance of returning to Uzbekistan.
Afghanistan's democratization process has cleared two major hurdles. First, the country managed to avoid serious violence on election day, as millions of Afghans turned out to vote for the country's first popularly elected president. Now, a ballot dispute is subsiding, reducing a threat that could have undermined the legitimacy of the vote.
During the run-up to Afghanistan's October 9 presidential election, warlords have been identified as a major threat to the country's political stability. Less publicized is the fact that warlords also pose a danger to the country's cultural heritage. Government officials say warlords are looting artifacts from archeological sites across the country to help finance their private armies.
In July, Afghan President Hamid Karzai ditched his vice-president, Marshal Mohammad Fahim, one of the country's most powerful warlords. In September, Karzai sacked Ismail Khan another influential warlord as the governor of Herat. The moves were designed to expand the influence of Afghanistan's central government. Yet, both have failed to produce the desired effect.
As Tskhinvali announces its withdrawal from the international commission charged with monitoring the peace in South Ossetia, tensions are again escalating with Georgia over the demand that a South Ossetian soldier who wounded an ethnic Georgian be extradited to Georgia for prosecution.
Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili is wielding a stick and extending a carrot to the separatist region of South Ossetia. Georgian leaders say their actions are driven by a determination to eradicate smuggling and corruption.
Georgian officials are moving swiftly to erase Aslan Abashidze's legacy in Ajaria. Today, the five-cross Georgian national flag flies at the residential compound where Abashidze and other top regional officials lived. Black-clad Ajarian paramilitaries who used to guard government buildings in Batumi have disappeared, and the Ajarian capital is now teaming with Georgian soldiers.
One hundred days into Mikhail Saakashvili's presidency, even while popular support for the reform leader's Rose Revolution remains unchanged, concerns are growing that Georgia's aggressive anti-corruption campaign has undermined respect of human rights and rule of law. In the push to strengthen Georgian statehood, critics say, dissent has been stifled and civil society weakened.
After a few days of relative peace between Ajaria and Tbilisi, tension is again on the rise. Ajaria's regional leader, Aslan Abashidze, appears to be backpedaling from an agreement reached with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili on the division of powers between the central and regional government.