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A looming humanitarian crisis in the land Orwell forgot

Turkmenistan, a desert republic of 5.6 million people and widely considered to be one of the world’s most repressive states, is heading towards a humanitarian catastrophe the effects of which could be geopolitically significant.

A potential humanitarian crisis, with geopolitical ramifications across Central Asia and the Middle East, may be imminent in a country few in the West have heard of and even fewer can find on a map: Turkmenistan. While there is still a chance for the country to reverse its course, it is highly unlikely it will, as the ruling regime appears to be hell bent on maintaining its power at all costs. This is the deeply troubling assessment by analysts and news agencies observing the country – one of the world’s most closed societies, rivalling the likes of North Korea. It is unknown whether a humanitarian crisis would lead to the state’s partial collapse. However, rumours of a possible Russian intervention upon Turkmenistan’s border with Afghanistan and speculation of backdoor negotiations with the Persian Gulf rivals of its neighbour and erstwhile trading partner, Iran, are among the many worrying signs that the government is struggling to manage a rapidly evolving and complex situation.
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October 31, 2017 - Christopher Schwartz - Issue 6 2017Magazine

Photo by Agnieszka Pikulicka-Wilczewska

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