Thaw in Uzbek-Kyrgyz Relations?

by Nathan Hamm on 7/25/2006

Relations between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan may be going south, but it looks like relations between Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan may be improving. After a year of pressure from Uzbekistan, is Kyrgyzstan finally getting down to cooperating on the issue Uzbekistan cares most about?

Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev says he has agreed with his Uzbek counterpart, Islam Karimov, to join forces in combating what he calls “international terrorism” and “religious extremism.”

A statement posted on the Kyrgyz presidential website ( says the two Central Asian leaders came to that conclusion after meeting on the sidelines of a summit of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) held on July 22 in Moscow.

At a meeting in Bishkek today, the heads of the security services of both countries — Kyrgyzstan’s Busurmankul Tabaldiev and Uzbekistan’s Rustam Inoyatov — agreed to conduct joint antiterror operations and exchange information on extremist religious organizations.

The BBC’s Firdevs Robinson recently did a couple programs on Central Asia (available here), the second of which addresses the difficult position Kyrgyzstan has found itself in trying to balance pressure from Uzbekistan with calls from the West for the Kyrgyz government to meet its obligations to protect refugees from Andijon. The report said that the Kyrgyz government may have finally decided that it is in its best interests to cooperate with Uzbekistan since Western support has not been sufficient to allow them to do otherwise. Perhaps, perhaps… With activity of Uzbek security services having already been going on in the recent past in Kyrgyzstan though, one can reasonably expect that such activity will only increase and become a little more visible.

UPDATE: More from UzReport.

“Together with the President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov we have reached mutual decision that our countries should unite efforts in fight against international terrorism and various actions of the representatives of religious and extremist flows. The coherence in the work of special services of our states is need here first of all”, Kurmanbek Bakiev noted.

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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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