Clashes In Central Asia On Tajik-Kyrgyz Border

In the afternoon of December 27, shooting broke out between Tajik and Kyrgyz servicemen in the areas of Tort-Kocho and Chyr-Dobo. The incident escalated into full-fledged clashes with the use of mortars and grenade launchers.

The number of victims reached 24 people. At least 11 Tajik citizens have been injured so far, including 3 civilians and 8 military personnel. The rest of the victims are Kyrgyz military and civilians. According to the latest data, at least 2 people were killed. A shell hit the house of a resident of the village of Somonien. It remains unclear who was behind the strike as the sides accuse each other of launching the shell. The second victim was an ambulance driver, who was killed when the car came under crossfire.


According to the border service of Kyrgyzstan, the conflict began when the Tajiks blocked the Batken-Isfana highway and opened fire on the Kyrgyz military. On the other hand, Tajikistan claimed that the clashes broke out when a group of 50 Kyrgyz citizens forcibly stopped the car of a Tajik citizen when he was traveling from one Tajik village to another. Tajikistan assessed the situation as aggression by the Kyrgyz soldiers.

According to the State Security Committee of the Tajik Republic, a group of Kyrgyz citizens forcibly stopped the car of a Tajik citizen.

Following the conflict between the local residents, clashes escalated into a shootout between border guards.

“The Kyrgyz side did not arrive at the meeting. Instead, the border guards of the Kyrgyz Republic, who occupied firing positions along the perimeter of the bridge, opened fire on civilians,” the report says.

For its part, the National Security Committee of Kyrgyzstan reported that the reason for the conflict was the blocking of the section of the Batken- Isfana highway.

Bishkek claims that the Tajik side opened fire. Including mortars.

On the night of December 28, Bishkek and Dushanbe agreed on a ceasefire under the CSTO diplomatic mediation. Amid the political efforts, both sides are deploying heavy military equipment and personnel to the border areas.Video Player00:0000:25Video Player00:0000:31

At the end of April 2021, another shootout on the border of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan claimed the lives of about 20 people on both sides. Approximately 150 people were injured. Small arms and artillery were used during the conflict.

More than 900 km of the border between the two countries remain undelimited. A significant part of the infrastructure in the disputed region, including the large Tajik enclave of Vorukh, was built in Soviet times. After the collapse of the USSR, due to the lack of the official boundary, conflicts are breaking out on a regular basis over the access to water resources and pastures, as well as to the roads between the local enclaves. In warm seasons, contradictions escalate amid the increased water consumption for agricultural work.Video Player00:0000:26

The recent developments on the Tajik-Kyrgyz border are alarming. In general, Central Asia faces a high risk of escalation of armed conflicts, both between states and within countries. The main causes of destabilization are low incomes of the population, unemployment, as well as the spread of radical ideology and the infiltration of extremist groups from Afghanistan.


UAE-Backed Forces End Offensive In Central Yemen Following Threats By Houthis (Video)

On January 28, the Saudi-led coalition’s ground offensive against the Houthis (Ansar Allah) in central Yemen came to a surprising end when the United Arab Emirates (UAE)-backed Giants Brigades concluded their operation in the region.

“After the end of Operation Southern Storm, the southern Giant Brigades are redeploying in Shabwah and transferring their brigades to their lair [main base] with high readiness,” the Giant Brigades said in a brief statement.

Operation Southern Storm, which began on January 1, covered the provinces of Shabwah and Ma’rib. In the course of the operation, the Giants Brigades and other proxies of the Saudi-led coalition captured the district centers of Usaylan, Bayhan and Ain in Shabwah and the district center of Harib in Ma’rib.

A Yemeni source told the al-Mayadeen TV that the decision to end Operation Southern Storm was made by the UAE following threats by the Houthis.

“The attacks on the Emirati depth and Sanaa’s threats to repeat it, forced the UAE to stop its military operations in Yemen,” the unnamed source said.

The Houthis attacked the UAE twice in less than ten days. On January 17, the Houthis launched several drones and missiles at Abu Dhabi. The attack killed three people and caused some material losses. On January 24, the Houthis launched a second attack with drones and missiles. This time however, the attack was foiled.

After the second attack, the group threatened foreign investments and key attractions in the UAE, including Expo Dubai and the Burj Khalifa.

The end of Operation Southern Storm is somewhat an achievement for the Houthis. However, the Giants Brigades could ignore their announcement and continue their offensive in Ma’rib in the coming few days. Such a move will likely provoke a fierce response from the Houthis.


INTERACTIVE - Russia and Ukraine explained in maps and charts

By Al Jazeera Staff

In recent weeks, Russia has built up its military presence along its border with Ukraine. An estimated 100,000 soldiers are concentrated along the frontier, with some 20,000 reportedly stationed near the Donetsk and Luhansk “republics”.

Diplomatic talks have failed to ease rising tensions. Russia opposes NATO bases near its borders and has asked for written guarantees that NATO does not expand eastwards. One of the Kremlin’s central demands is that Ukraine never be allowed to join NATO – a move it considers a red line. The United States has refused to concede to this demand.

We break down the history, politics and economics of the Ukraine-Russia crisis in eight graphics.

INTERACTIVE- Conflict between Ukraine and Russia at a glance

History of the USSR

Russia and Ukraine were part of the 15 Soviet republics that made up the USSR.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine declared independence on August 24.

INTERACTIVE- former USSR republics map

Political leadership

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine moved to shed its Russian imperial legacy and forge increasingly close ties with the West.

Over the past 30 years, Ukraine has been led by seven presidents. The country has had a rocky path towards democracy with two revolutions, first in 2005 and then in 2014. Both times, protesters rejected Russia’s supremacy and sought a path to join the European Union and NATO.

By comparison, Russia has been led by three presidents with Vladimir Putin having been in office for 17 years. In 2021, the former agent of the Soviet Union’s KGB security services signed a law which essentially enables Putin to stay in power until 2036.

Putin has repeatedly claimed that Russians and Ukrainians belong to “one people”, and are part of the historical “Russian civilisation” that also includes neighbouring Belarus. Ukrainians reject his claims.

INTERACTIVE- Political Leadership in Ukraine and Russia

How big are Ukraine and Russia?

Ukraine and Russia are the two largest countries in Europe. At just more than 17 million square kilometres (6.5 million square miles), Russia is the largest country in the world and roughly 28 times the size of Ukraine.

Both countries’ populations have declined since the 1990s with fertility rates among the lowest in the world. As of 2020, Russia’s fertility rate was 1.5 and Ukraine’s 1.2. For context, in order for a population to remain stable, an overall total fertility rate of 2.1 is required.

INTERACTIVE- How big are Russia and Ukraine

Oil and gas resources

Russia and Ukraine are both rich in oil and gas. Russia has the world’s highest proven gas reserves at 48,938 billion cubic metres. More than 70 percent of the country’s gas reserves are held by Gazprom, a state-owned energy giant.

Russia supplies about one-third of Europe’s natural gas. US sanctions over any conflict could disrupt that supply, exacerbating Europe’s energy crisis. The opening of Gazprom’s Nord Stream 2, an $11bn gas pipeline across the Baltic Sea, would bypass Ukraine and deprive it of some $2bn in transit fees Russia currently pays.

Russia also has some of the largest proven oil reserves, at 80 billion barrels, or 5 percent of the world’s total oil reserves.

Ukraine too has a sizable reserve of oil and gas at 395 million barrels and 349 billion cubic metres, respectively. The country sits at the crossroads between the West and Russia, and plays a key role in delivering Russian gas to European markets.

INTERACTIVE- Oil and Gas pipelines across Russia and Ukraine


Western powers have imposed sanctions on Russia since 2014 when it annexed Crimea. The threat of fresh sanctions if Russia attacks Ukraine is unlikely to affect the Kremlin’s decisions.

The European Central Bank (ECB) has told lenders with exposure to Russia to be prepared for the fallout of economic sanctions.

A study into the effect of sanctions at Finland’s Aalto University found that more than 80 percent of Russian companies it sampled had experienced adverse effects between 2014 and 2017.

Ukraine has a per capita gross domestic product (GDP) of about $3,100, while Russia’s is about four times higher at $11,700. According to the National Bank of Ukraine, inflation stood at 10 percent for the country. In comparison, the Bank of Russia stated inflation was 8.5 percent in 2021.

The Russian rouble and Ukrainian hryvnia are the worst-performing emerging markets currencies so far this year, according to Reuters news agency.

INTERACTIVE- Russia Ukraine Economic indicators

Trading partners

Russia’s bilateral trade with Ukraine has tanked from its peak of almost $50bn in 2011 to $11bn in 2019. Russia remains one of Ukraine’s biggest trade partners.

In the event of outright aggression, the flow of wheat and grain could be disrupted – Ukraine and Russia are both major grain exporters and use ports located in the Black Sea, a key geoeconomic region, as a hub for transporting commodities.

Economic sanctions or military action could have a significant effect on the cost of food as importers seek to find alternatives.

INTERACTIVE- Trading partners Russia and Ukraine

Military head-to-head

Russia has one of the most powerful militaries in the world and ranks among the top five defence spenders.

In 2020, Russia spent $61.7bn on its military which accounted for 11.4 percent of government spending. In comparison, Ukraine spent $5.9bn on its military or 8.8 percent of government spending, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

Since tensions began, NATO allies, fearful of a potential ground invasion by Russia, have stepped up support for Kyiv by sending additional troops and military equipment to Ukraine.

On Sunday, Ukraine received a second shipment of weapons from the US as part of a $200m defence package approved by President Joe Biden in December.

INTERACTIVE- Ukraine Russia head-to-head



Libyan National Army Attacks ISIS Cells Near Qatrun, Kills 24 Terrorists (Photos)

On January 28, the Libyan National Army (LNA) announced that it had neutralized a gathering of ISIS cells near the southern Libyan town of Qatrun.

The army kicked off a large-scale operation in the southern outskirts of Qatrun, which is located some 200 kilometers away from the border with Niger and Chad, after detecting movements by ISIS cells around Mount ‘Asida.

Several units of the LNA, including the Tariq bin Ziyad Brigade, the 73rd Infantry Brigade, and the 128th Military Battalion, took part in the operation. Libyan Air Force warplanes provided close air support for LNA troops advancing on the ground.

According to Sky News Arabia, the LNA killed 24 terrorists of ISIS during the operation. Three of the terrorists blew themselves up, likely to avoid being captured. The army’s losses were limited to four service members.

Libyan National Army Attacks ISIS Cells Near Qatrun, Kills 24 Terrorists (Photos)
Libyan National Army Attacks ISIS Cells Near Qatrun, Kills 24 Terrorists (Photos)

Today, the Benghazi-based LNA, led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, is the key force fighting ISIS’ remnants in Libya. Government forces in the capital, Tripoli, have not been doing much to counter the terrorist group.

The army conducts combing operations in the country’s southern region on a regular region in order keep ISIS at bay. Despite this, the terrorist group’s cells manage to launch attacks from time to time.

UN convoy attacked, two vehicles burned in Colombia

By Siddra Sumreen

UN convoy attacked, two vehicles burned in Colombia

GNN Media: Representational Photo

Bogotá: An armed group has attacked a United Nations convoy in southeastern Colombia, setting fire to two vehicles, the organization said Thursday.

The UN mission that monitors adherence to a 2016 peace deal with the former FARC guerrillas said it “firmly rejects the attack suffered by our team” in Puerto Nuevo, located in a rural area of Guaviare department.

According to the United Nations, its workers were traveling with members of the UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the Norwegian Refugee Council when “they were approached by armed men who made them get out of their vehicle.”

“Two of the three vehicles were set on fire” by the perpetrators, the statement said. Members of the convoy, however, “returned unharmed” to their offices.

Senior presidential adviser Emilio Archila told local radio that the “criminals presented themselves as dissidents” of the former FARC guerrillas, under the command of Gentil Duarte, one of Colombia’s most wanted men.

Created under the 2016 peace agreement between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the government of Nobel Peace Prize winner and then president Juan Manuel Santos, the UN Verification Mission in Colombia monitors implementation of the accord, which led to the disarmament of some 7,000 guerrillas.