Trend commentator: Osh events threaten security in Central Asia
Trend commentator Polad Hamidov
The number of victims of clashes in southern Kyrgyzstan reached 179 people. During the riots about 1,866 civilians were injured, of whom 836 were hospitalized.
According to certain assumptions, these data are inaccurate and the actual number of victims of riots exceeds the official summary. Up to 100,000 refugees and internally displaced people could leave conflict-affected areas.
Classifying ethnic conflicts in the former Soviet Union Some, specialists on conflicts include all acts of communal violence (Osh, Fergana) in Central Asia in a separate category. The economic factor along with ethnic problems play an important role here.
Socio-economic situation in the Ferghana Valley is a serious problem both for Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan, which appeared during the Soviet period. It is stipulated by several circumstances, including the most important - the overcrowding and shortage of land and water for irrigation, as well as a surplus of labor force, mainly aged from 17-25.
However, land and water became a leitmotif of the mass riots in Osh in 1990, when riots, burning and killing of Uzbeks broke out. The informal organizations - both Kyrgyz and Uzbek operating in the Osh region aggravated the situation.
Events, taking place today in the Kyrgyz Osh, remind the conflict which occurred 20 years ago. But now the situation is aggravated by the fact that all this happens in a country which has experienced two revolutions for the last five years, with weak economy and unstable authority. After the last revolution, when Kurmanbek Bakiyev was overthrown, the interim government headed by Roza Otunbayeva has not managed to secure legitimacy yet.
Taking into account these circumstances, possible spreading of heated situation outside the region is not ruled out. For example, the information about casualties among ethnic Uzbeks in Kyrgyzstan has stirred up the border areas of Uzbekistan in June 1990. It is difficult to say about the reaction of the Uzbek community to the events in Osh today.
Soviet army was deployed in the towns of the Kyrgyz Osh in riots in June 1990. It managed to bring the situation under control.
Now the CSTO can play this role. But it does not have the potential and experience. Everybody obeyed a "center" 20 years ago. The army with the assistance of numerous police system, as well as the KGB easily resolved the conflict. But now the consent of representatives of all member-countries of the Organization is required for the entry of CSTO peacekeeping forces. Moreover, the situation is being aggravated every day and the "young" CSTO peacekeeping forces' actions to resolve the conflict are unlikely to be effective.
The aggravating circumstance in this situation is the illegitimate authority in Kyrgyzstan. The consent of all members of the organization is required for CSTO peacekeepers to resolve the conflict. One must not forget that Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who also requested to enter the CSTO peacekeeping forces to prevent the coup in Kyrgyzstan, is in Belarus now. The attitude of this country to a temporary Kyrgyz government is not fully clear. For example, the General Prosecutor's Office in Belarus has refused from extraditing ex-president, Kurmanbek Bakiyev. The Kyrgyz interim government accuses him of escalating tension in the country. The official representative of the Belarusian prosecutor general's office refused from explaining the reasons of that decision. Taking it into account, is it logical for Belarus to help the Kyrgyz interim government?
The tragic events in the Osh region in summer 1990 and a wave of riots against the Meskhetian Turks in the Ferghana Valley, of course, were a lesson for the ruling elite-countries of Central Asia. They acquired the necessary experience to prevent such clashes. But the situation today is complicated by the fact that extremists and drug dealers operate actively in the region.
In particular, one can not ignore "seasonality" of these disturbances. That is, "the first war of Fergana" and "the first Osh events" occurred when the operation on destruction of opium poppy was conducted in this region. The second half of May and early June is the time of intensive cultivation of flowering. The red fields can be easily detected from a helicopter. Therefore, it is the most convenient time to conduct operations on its destruction.
Although the current events in Osh were not preceded by an operation to destroy poppy crop, one can not ignore the role of those involved in drug trafficking and money laundry, an escalation of tensions in the country.