Blank on Uzbekistan

by Nathan Hamm on 6/2/2005 · 3 comments

Stephen Blank has an article on Uzbekistan at Jamestown’s Global Terrorism Analysis site that’s well worth taking the time to read. There’s much to recommend about the piece, but this jumped out at me:

Thus, paradoxically, Uzbekistan may be becoming an exporter rather than an importer of Islamic extremism throughout Central Asia, including Afghanistan. This would be a reversal of the recent pattern whereby Afghanistan under the Taliban exported instability throughout the world and Central Asia in particular. If this trend continues, the destabilization of Uzbekistan could become a catalyst for the spread of similar trends and forces to other Central Asian countries and back to Afghanistan, thus undermining, if not undoing, what has been accomplished there since 2001.

Karimov is taking the country down a pretty treacherous road, and so far seems ill-prepared to get himself out of the mess he’s in. The terrorist threats the government faces definitely need to be met, but Blank argues that draining the swamp isn’t how Karimov is going about fighting the battle. And the response to Andijon and self-serving explanations for what happened are playing into the wrong side’s hands.

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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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Peter June 3, 2005 at 4:07 am

Jamestown are good at what they do, up to a point, but they are given to excited prophesies of doom. They’ve been harping on about imminent meltdown in the whole of the north Caucasus for ages now and so far nothing of that type has occurred.
Second, relative to the later post about terrorist activity, I am curious about all this IMU activity suddenly being noted. Who exactly does the State Department gets its information from? Would it not suit DC’s (whatever that means) supine and ambivalent stance by having it known that there genuinely is trouble afoot.
A hell of a lot foreigners, and I mean westerners, have started going through Ferghana again, reasonably unmolested by police. Tashkent itself is calm and serene, and there is not necessarily a lot to be divined from the fact that the clucking U.S. Embassy staff is being chaperoned out of the country en masse. This is quite standard procedure and not in of itself indicative of anything.

Nathan June 3, 2005 at 6:56 am

I get the impression that warning may be on the way.

Nathan June 3, 2005 at 7:04 am

Actually, warning’s out. I’ll have it up soon.

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