Tuesday, May 17, 2005
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How do you code Uzbekistan?
Is the recent unrest in Uzbekistan an example of the Uzbeks yearning to join the burgeoning fourth wave of democratization, or is it something else altogether, an example of Islamic extremists threatening a secular state? I'm still not completely sure, but my hunch is that it's the former.
The BBC provides a very useful timeline of events. The triggering event was an attack on the Andijan prison, where 23 local businessmen were held, accused of being Islamic extremists.
Rustam Iskhakov's first-person account of the prison-break in the Guardian cuts against the fourth wave thesis -- this looks violent and brutal:
However, this Ferghana.ru report on the official Uzbek response suggests that the authorities have bullets in some of their magazines:
The Weekly Standard's Stephen Schwartz argues that Andijan is an example of a fourth wave protest:
The limited amount of background research I did on Uzbekistan for The Sanctions Paradox suggests that Islam Karimov has been using the spectre of Islamic fundamentalism as an excuse to crack down on any and all opposition for the past thirteen years.
The fact that reporters have been kicked out of Andijan is also a decent sign that Karimov is dealing with more than terrorists. As Reporters Without Borders points out, "When the authorities keep journalists away from a conflict zone it is most often to hide abuses committed there."
UPDATE: Greg Djerejian is back at Belgravia Dispatch and has some thoughts on the what the Bush administration has done and should do.
Meanwhile, the New York Times' C.J. Chivers reports that the Uzbek government now admits more people were killed in the suppression of the Andijan protests than they originally acknowledged. And the AP's Burt Herman reports that an Islamic rebel in Uzbekistan has declared he controls a border town:
The BBC has more on Rakhimov's aims.
FINAL UPDATE: Paul Reynolds provides some useful analysis for the BBC.posted by Dan on 05.17.05 at 06:03 PM
I don't want to seem to swim against the fourth wave, but were the Uzbek demonstrations really pro-democracy or just anti-Karimov?
Uzbekistan is in Central Asia, not on the fringes of Europe. The democratic models available to it are thousands of miles away, Islam is a force among the opposition and the Russian influence is still a lot greater there than ours is, air base or no air base. On the other hand Karimov is by all accounts not just a dictator but an especially unreasonable one. At least to me opening fire from armored cars on an unarmed crowd seems a fairly unreasonable step, and I'd be surprised if it were the first instance.
Don't get me wrong: I'd be delighted to see an Uzbek democracy bloom on the steppe, but if people there were content to settle for an ordinary dictatorship to replace the one they have now I think we ought to count that as progress.posted by: Zathras on 05.17.05 at 06:03 PM [permalink]
I wouldn't call it "pro-democracy" but rather "anti-economic-strangulation" and "pro higher expectations."posted by: praktike on 05.17.05 at 06:03 PM [permalink]
rice has yet to condemn the massacre. pathetic.posted by: carabinieri on 05.17.05 at 06:03 PM [permalink]
Hm. Not enough information... Uzbekistan was basically a staging area for Afghanistan, not a primary focus of either the intelligence services or the media.
It is not unreasonable to wait until details are known before commenting on something.posted by: rosignol on 05.17.05 at 06:03 PM [permalink]
openDemocracy is currently headlining Uzbekistan, if the headline is rolled out, they're featuring the following four articles:posted by: Michael B on 05.17.05 at 06:03 PM [permalink]
A coalition of pro-democracy forces and fundamentalists overthrew the Shah in Iran, maybe the same thing is happening in Uzbekistan. While the bad guys eventually won out in Iran, that doesn't mean the same thing will happen 25 years later in Uzbekistan.posted by: Brian S. on 05.17.05 at 06:03 PM [permalink]
"We will be building an Islamic state here in accordance with the Quran,'' Rakhimov said in an interview with The Associated Press. "People are tired of slavery.''posted by: Achillea on 05.17.05 at 06:03 PM [permalink]
Trying that again, with the links not clobbered by the damned preview ...posted by: Achillea on 05.17.05 at 06:03 PM [permalink]
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