Uzbekistan: Workers of the World,

by Nathan Hamm on 8/31/2003

Uzbekistan: Workers of the World, Unite!
As Uzbekistan’s economy continues its slow slide downhill, workers are getting restive.
Boldness like this doesn’t bode well for the Uzbek government,
especially when it comes from the Ferghana Valley. While large strikes
and demonstrations may lead to positive reforms, the possibility of
Islamic radicals joining hands with the immense number of poor
throughout the country is chilling. Right before I was evacuated from
Uzbekistan, there was a lot of fear and apprehension among Uzbeks –
made worse by news of our evacuation. Many people, especially in the
cities, truly feared that if the Taliban offered steady and decent pay,
poor villagers would jump at the opportunity to join. While this
probably never would or could have happened, it shows the level of
desperation that there is throughout the country. Further, it shows
that the Uzbek government is on very unstable ground. There have been a
few strikes like this in the past few years, and the government seems
unable or unwilling to improve conditions to let off this steam.
Karimov has a tendency to move like a pendulum as far as policy goes.
Right now, he’s in a “no reform” phase, and for that to coincide with
strikes and demonstrations – especially if they go unpunished – makes
significant turbulence a distinct possibility in the near future.
Even if there are reforms made soon, especially economic ones such as
attaining currency convertibility, the reforms themselves could make
the short term even more bleak, leaving the government in a lose-lose
situation. But… They really need to just bite the bullet at some

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– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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