HOST: Earlier this year, Uzbeks celebrated their 10th year of independence from the Soviet Union. But they had fewer causes for celebration than for anxiety.
FIONA HILL: Serious economic decline, the increase of very serious social problems, and a great deal of political instability.
HOST: Fiona Hill, a central asia expert at the Brookings Institution in Washington, says these five countries [Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgystan, and Tajikistan] deeply distressed each other.
FIONA HILL: Uzbekistan has actually started to mine its border with Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. There have actually been a number of Tajik and Kyrgen civilians killed by mines, just crossing over the border for routine visits to relatives, or tending livestock. On the Uzbek/Turkmen border, there have also been a series of problems, people crossing the border shot and similarly with Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, in fact, over the last several years, all of the borders have become increasingly fortified.
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European leaders were clear in their joint call for journalistic freedom, a credible investigation [into Jamal Khashoggi’s alleged killing and dismemberment by Saudi operatives] and accountability for any wrongdoing. In stark contrast, the American president chose to parrot Saudi denials and pitch an unsubstantiated and improbable explanation.