Books on Turkmenistan
Update No: 333 - (26/09/08)
Turkmenistan is an exotic, strange place. It has had a stroke
of luck. It had a quite ghastly dictator, Saparmurat Niyazov, who died in his
sleep in December, 2006.
To that a whole nation owed a deliverance.
The new man was the dentist of the dictator, also said to be a cousin, whatever,
an infinite improvement. He has an almost unmentionably long name, in the most
garish of sub-dialects of Turkmen.
Rare clash reported in authoritarian Turkmenistan
Heavy gun battles between a radical Islamist group and security forces erupted
overnight in the capital of Turkmenistan — a rare instance of violence in the
authoritarian Central Asian nation, media reports and a Western diplomat said on
The diplomat said there were unconfirmed reports that at least 20 members of the
security forces were killed and some of the suspected fighters had been rounded
up. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to
Witnesses in the capital Ashgabat told The Associated Press there was heavy,
prolonged gunfire and some casualties in the fighting, though they did not know
how many. They said they saw armoured personnel carriers patrolling the area and
streets there were closed for much of the day.
Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty and a foreign-based opposition Web site named
Gundogar said the clash was between a radical Islamist group and security
Information is strictly controlled in Turkmenistan, a former Soviet republic
with large gas and oil reserves. State media did not report on the incident.
The small country borders Iran and Afghanistan and its population is
overwhelmingly Muslim. But Islamic violence is virtually unheard of, as the
government has vigorously stamped out all opposition.
The U.S. embassy in Turkmenistan warned Americans to stay away from the northern
districts of city where the clashes took place.
Turkmenistan to introduce multi-party system: officials declare
The biggest news of all, however, is that Turkmenistan, an energy-rich and
highly authoritarian ex-Soviet state, is due to adopt a new constitution,
allowing the creation of a multi-party political system, officials have said.
The Central Asian state, located on Afghanistan's western border, currently has
just one political party, the Democratic Party, which is the former Communist
Party and is headed up by President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov.
The change is one of several reforms -- including a ban on torture and the
defence of private property rights -- to be adopted at a session of the People's
Council, a gathering of some 2,500 tribal elders and local officials.
Berdymukhamedov says the reforms will make Turkmenistan "more
democratic." The Turkmen leader has signalled greater openness to
democratic reforms and Western investment in the energy sector since taking over
The changes also include the abolition of the People's Council, which was
established by long-time dictator Saparmurat Niyazov to overshadow the authority
of the parliament. Berdymukhamedov became president after Niyazov's death.
The country's 65-seat parliament will also be enlarged to 125 seats and the
People's Council is expected to set a date for parliamentary elections after
which presumably, it will be no more.
This of course a most welcome development, reflecting well on the president in
question, although we will save the congratulations and wait to see whether the
Parliament has any meaningful powers other than to be a mouthpiece of the