Developments in Khanabad factor of instability in Uzbekistan: experts

Politics Materials 2 June 2009 13:27 (UTC +04:00)

Yegor Vinogradov,   Deutsche Welle

Several militants attacked authoritative agencies in Andizhan region of Uzbekistan earlier this week. The event raised an issue how stabile the situation is in Uzbekistan today.

Experts dealing with forecasting of crisis situations consider Uzbekistan as possible center of instability in the region before the incident in Andizhan region occurred May 25-26 at night.

So, ten days before group of militants attacked the department of internal affairs and the department of national security service in Hanabad, vice-president of the International crisis group Alen Deletro warned on Deutsche Welle air that Uzbekistan is the gravest factor of risk in the region.  

The situation is not forecasted well enough

These events confirmed point of view that situation in the Fergana valley, especially, the part situated in Uzbekistan is forecasted badly. So, it is far from stability. So, Russian expert on the Central Asia Arkady Dubnov expressed his point of view. He considers wrong policy of the republic's authority towards population as major reason.

"Major reason is the same as four years ago during Andizhan events in May 2005 - lack of population's trust towards state institutes. Grave factor of risk intensifying such a mood remain extremely tough actions of law enforcement towards those whom the state suspects in disloyalty.

First, faithful Muslims and members of their families are victims of unjustified pressure of militants having no legal basis."      

Events in Hanabad are consequence of bans.

According to Arkady Dubnov, people subjected to insults, as before, remain major motivating force that obliges them to yield to agitation of recruiters drawn them into terror organization.      

Counteraction of Uzbekistan's law enforcement on entrepreneurship in the region is also grave threat of stability. First, entrepreneurship is based on border trade with Kyrgyzstan. There are grave grounds to consider that the last events were reactions on such bans having corruption component in its basis.

"Activity of drug dealers in this region is also important factor of risk. If you believe in information that terror acts and attacks on police stations occurred several days after beginning of any anti terror operation by Uzbek militants, you know how roughly they treat actions in contiguous Kyrgyz side. It is not excluded that these attacks as reciprocal were provoked from that side, Russian expert said. From this point of view, version that IDU militants or any mythic Islamic jihad have bearing on this sporadic group is the most possible one.  

Leadership suffers deep crisis

In his turn, Russian expert on terrorism and crisis situations Lev Korolkov considers that the version of Islamic Jihad participation, actions of groups of drug dealers and grave domestic problems in Uzbekistan should be considered in complex but not in contradiction. "First, last events in Uzbekistan demonstrate that the country itself and it political leadership suffer grave crisis. Attacks on police department, national security service, transition center are planned actions. So, these actions must have demonstrated unsteady regime of Karimov."     

Moreover, Lev Korolkov also said it is natural that that the attackers then went to Kyrgyzstan, where they were apparently provided with shelter. "One should bear in mind that since attackers who are of course, former or present members of the Islamic Jihad, not including recruits, survive largely through drug trafficking, some of which still goes to Uzbekistan, where there is sufficient number of drug contingent. There is a convergence of interests of performers and customers."

Korolkov said experts should not exclude the components of the geopolitical events in Khanabad, Andijan. "Reasons for destabilized the situation in Uzbekistan can be in the eyes of a superpower - Russia, China or the United States who wish to deploy main supply base in Uzbekistan, to restore relations interrupted by the events in Andijan. In fact, retrospective of the events in Andijan may at a smaller scale have a much greater resonance in the world, as well as in relations with interested parties each of which, of course, has its own interests."

Islamic Jihad actively recruits new members in Afghanistan

Events in Khanabad are being discussed in Afghanistan as well. There these events are attributed to active movement of the Islamic Jihad. Deutsche Welle correspondent Ahmad Durani reported that, from the beginning of 2009 Islamic Jihad began recruit more and more young people in Afghanistan and Pakistan, who mostly came from Uzbekistan through Tajikistan. Sometimes they come with citizens from Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and the Muslims of Russia. Witnesses in Afghanistan claim that it is mainly the residents of the Fergana Valley of Uzbekistan, Namangan, Fergana and Andijan cities.

One of the officers of the Afghan border troops, who asked to remain anonymous, told Deutsche Welle that volunteers coming via Tajikistan are recruited in Faryab, Kunduz and Badakhshan provinces. Then a local field commander told the Deutsche Welle correspondent that about a hundred well-armed and trained fighters of Tahir Yuldashev from Helmand province moved to the province of Kunduz and the neighboring province and divided into several smaller groups in early March.

In late April, some forty militants crossed into Tajikistan through Badakhshan province in order to get to the "triangle", that is, until Batken district of Kyrgyzstan, where the borders of Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan cross. An Afghan police officer also confirmed this information.

Ahmed Durani said that the Islamic Jihad militants based in Afghanistan and Pakistan sometimes visit their relatives in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, in spite of the hardships of the long route and a great risk for life. They are assisted by Afghan Uzbeks and they are brought back by them. Most people in Afghanistan believe that the Islamic Jihad militants were involved in a recent incident in Khanabad.

Cruelty of regime is key reason

But let's return to opinion of the Vice-President of the International Crisis Group Alain Deletro expressed before the Khanabad events. European expert saw the main danger not in external factors, but under what pressure is the population of Uzbekistan.

"This is the country where the poverty rate among the population is relatively high, especially high level of discontent people of State and Government, where there is only minimal space for the expression of grievances and also for journalists. It is hard to say exactly whether this dissatisfaction may one day turn into a violent demonstration against the state. But if there is something to happen, it would be the biggest risk ... to all of Central Asia," Alan Deletro said.  

Opinions expressed in this article may be different of those held by Trend

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