'Afghanistani Obama' aspires to be his country's saviour E-mail

By Ben Farmer in Samangan province, and Nick Meo in Kabul
As Afghanistan's elections loom, President Hamid Karzai's strongest challenge comes from a candidate who crosses the country's ethnic divide
Its ancient engine emitting an unsettling rattle, the Russian-made MI-17 helicopter touched down in a choking cloud of dust in the mud brick Afghan town of Samangan. The haze had barely cleared around the disembarking figure of its VIP passenger, though, as the waiting crowd surged forward shouting his name – "Abdullah!".
A month ago, none of the 40 candidates running for president against Hamid Karzai seemed to have a chance, and the farmers of Samangan would not have bothered leaving their wheat fields for an election rally.

But suddenly, a lacklustre election campaign has sparked into a ferocious battle.
The hopes of millions who prayed for a better life after the fall of the Taliban government, and were frustrated, have been pinned on the challenger who promises to unseat Mr Karzai – the urbane former foreign minister, Dr Abdullah Abdullah.
With just 11 days to go before a vote that will help decide Afghanistan's future, many believe he has enough momentum to win – thanks not just to his own popularity, but to widespread disillusionment with the incumbent.
Tajikistan Moves to Ban Russian Language E-mail

DUSHANBE, July 23 (RIA Novosti) - Tajikistan's president has proposed banning the Russian language from being used in public institutions and official documents, a move he said would promote the development of Tajik and bolster patriotism in the country.

"The dignity of a nation is determined, above all, by how people preserve and respect their language," Emomali Rakhmon said in a televised address late on Wednesday.

Rakhmon urged a new language law to amend 1989 legislation that defined Tajik as the official language and Russian as a language of "interethnic communication," which gave the latter a de facto official status allowing people to use it in dealing with authorities, and receive information and documents in Tajik or Russian.

The new draft law proposed by the president and submitted to parliament obliges all nationals to know Tajik and speak it in official situations and public workplaces.

The president criticized newspaper journalists for a poor knowledge of Tajik, for using clumsy or misleading phrases and terminology, and even making spelling mistakes.
A New Translation of the Cyrus Cylinder by the British Museum E-mail

With Special thanks to the tireless efforts of Ms. A J Cave there is now a copy of the latest translation of Cyrus Cylinder by Dr. Finkel of the British Museum available for consultaiton (please see below). 

The Cyrus Cylinder housed in the British Museum

Professor Emeritus Richard Nelson Frye has noted of Cyrus the Great (575-530 BC) that: 

Surely the concept of one world, the fusion of peoples and cultures into oneness was one of his important legacies.

"The Event of Our Era" Former Soviet Muslim Republics Change the Middle East E-mail

by Daniel Pipes
Central Asia and the World: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan 1994

The emergence of six mostly Muslim republics from the former Soviet Union has prompted much concern about their falling under Middle Eastern influence. But Middle Eastern states have attained little power over those republics; ironically, the impact goes the other way. The independence of republics in the Transcaucasus (Azerbaijan) and Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan), has profound implications for the Middle East, and especially for their four immediate neighbors-Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Turkey's former prime minister Süleyman Demirel exaggerated only slightly when he called the independence of these states (called henceforth the ex-Soviet Muslim republics or the Southern Tier) "the event of our era." Indeed, the Southern Tier's resumption of history may well have enormous consequences for the Middle East.

Middle Eastern Impact on the Southern Tier

Reporting from Central Asia and Azerbaijan since late 1991 has concentrated on the competition for influence over them among Middle Eastern states. The rivals include primarily Turkey and Iran, as well as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Ankara sees success at wooing the Southern Tier as a means of advancing Turkish secularism as a model, while Iran's success would win support for that country's anti-Western Islamic model.
Tehran to host Iran-Tajikistan Friendship Week E-mail


Posted: 2008/12/02
From: MNN
Iran-Tajikistan Friendship Week will be organized here by Melal (nations) Cultural Center affiliated to Tehran Municipality's Cultural Artistic Organization from December 10.

Announcing this, head of the cultural complex, Behnam Khadem told IRNA Monday that exchange of culture, traditions and customs between the two Muslim Persian-speaking nations and making the Tehranis aware about Tajik culture are among the objectives for holding the week.

Iran-Tajikistan Friendship Week will open in Melal, Students, Family, Women and Girls cultural centers on December 10, he noted.

Khadem added that some 19 Tajik artists involved in music and handicrafts sectors will take part in the event.

Performance of Tajik local and national music, exhibits of books, handicrafts and screening films on culture and history of the country, planting peace and friendship saplings are among the programs of the week, he said.

Meanwhile, a booklet on Iran and Tajikistan's culture, traditions and customs will also be released, he noted.

Iran-South Korea Friendship Week was held earlier while Iran-Malaysia Friendship Week is slated for March. --IRNA

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