Murray Speaks

by Nathan Hamm on 11/12/2004 · 2 comments

Ex-ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray made a public-speaking appearance at Chatham House on November 8. While I have not had the opportunity to read the transcript entirely, my general impression is that Murray is much better suited to heading a human rights NGO than engaging in serious diplomacy. The man is certainly no fool, but displays all-too-much the transnational progressive’s eagerness to discount the seriousness of Islamist terror,

However it appears that the March bombings in Tashkent were not co-ordinated or even expected by the surviving IMU leadership. They seem to have been the work of predominantly young Uzbeks with a desperate hatred of the regime. There is however compelling evidence that the groups which carried out these terrible acts had been heavily penetrated by the Uzbek security services, to the extent that it is hard to believe they could not have been pre-empted and their may be reason to suspect an agent-provocateur operation. The July bombings at the Israeli and US Embassies perhaps are more classical terrorist attacks with input from an external leadership. In particular, because there is no news on the subject on the Uzbek state media, awareness of the Palestine issue in Uzbekistan even among activists is almost non-existent.

It is, of course, standard practice in certain circles to dismiss entirely even the possibility that the governments of Central Asia are telling the truth even some of the time (I’m thinking about this story in particular right now). Traipsing down this path are all kinds of “courageous souls” who “speak truth to power” after the fashion of Michael Moore, declaring, more or less, that there is no terror threat in Central Asia and that the government is the only obstacle to unleashing the region’s full potential. Those who know the region’s recent history will know why these conspiracy theories are foolish.

Let me put on my nuance hat and argue that perhaps terrorism is a threat, that regional governments are problematic but firmly in place, and that the approach of Murray and others like him has produced very few, if any, results.

Murray argues for disengagement, a policy that removes almost all of the leverage the West has in the region but leaves Murray’s hands pristinely clean. Engagement certainly hasn’t delivered as much as I would hope, but it is the best card to play in a bad hand.


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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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{ 2 comments }

Asrorbek November 13, 2004 at 7:45 am
Laurence November 15, 2004 at 4:19 am

Asror, that is a very interesting interview with Safayev. Thank you for posting it!

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