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The Fight to Reclaim Pankisi

A Eurasianet partner post from The Black Sea

Georgia’s poverty-stricken northeast valley is struggling to dump its label as a nest of terrorists
 
At first sight, the valley of Pankisi seems unremarkable. A sleepy collection of houses winds along the pebbled riverbed of the Alazani river, one village after the other linking like pearls on a string.
 
Slender, veiled women chat beneath a mulberry tree. Cows stand in the middle of a narrow country lane. Men with beards roll by on bicycles. 
 
The scene is peaceful and banal - a sharp contrast to the headlines this valley in the north east of Georgia inspires in the local and foreign press. 
 
“Fighters in Syria”, “Jihadist Hotbed”, “arms smuggle” and “aspiring terrorists” are the buzz words associated with Pankisi. 
 
If one mentions a trip to the valley in the Georgian capital Tbilisi, it will raise eyebrows among the locals - followed by a half-serious and hesitant question: ‘Isn't it dangerous?’
 
“These rumors are not true,” 27-year old Asma* tells us with a frown. She is running a guesthouse in Pankisi, and has heard such fears before. 
 

To read the full story

*Name changed by the editor.

A Eurasianet partner post from The Black Sea

The Fight to Reclaim Pankisi

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