Oh, hey. Look! Someone’s making a mostly evidence-free claim that “the broad Ferghana Valley, where Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan converge, is turning into a key sanctuary for Islamic militants.”
More power to The Dallas Morning News for picking up the story, I guess. But, it’s a pinch of really old news — that there’s this thing called the Northern Distribution Network to move supplies into Afghanistan from the north — mixed in with a few choice scare quotes and a handful of recent events to give the impression that militants are, with very little resistance, setting themselves up in the Ferghana Valley. Just skim the story and look at the sources and the quality of the information they’re offering. Stratfor, Ahmed Rashid, some dude claiming to speak for an organization nobody’s ever heard of, one incident in the Ferghana Valley (and some more down in Rasht, which now I guess is close enough to count). Color me unconvinced.
The author of the story is a freelancer who looks to have done a decent amount of work in Pakistan. And the story itself reads as an obnoxious manifestation of the way a large number of military, political, and international affairs practitioners and watchers in Europe and North America with experience in Afghanistan and Pakistan think about Central Asia — just like Afghanistan and Pakistan, but more to the north. Anyone familiar with the way this same crowd pictured Central Asia in the 1990s will surely recognize that it didn’t take passing familiarity with Afghanistan and Pakistan for this same crowd to come to the conclusion that the Ferghana Valley, for example, was a dangerous place of dangerously dangerous dangers waiting to dangerously explode into a dangerous orgy of dangerous danger (DANGER!!!). But now Central Asia is treated as if it is the lawless, tribal region with wholly feckless governments much like Pakistan is often portrayed.