August 25, 2007: Despite growing despotism, and not
much, if any, economic growth, Islamic radicalism is having a hard time gaining
any traction in the region. In Tajikistan, for example, two Islamic radicals,
recently released from Guantanamo Bay, were convicted of being mercenaries and
sentenced to 17 years in prison. There are ten more Tajiks in
Guantanamo Bay, and 70 more Islamic radicals in Tajik prisons. The Islamic
radical movement was shattered in the 1990s, when a civil war left over 100,000
dead, and the Islamic radicals defeated. That, followed by the fall of the
Taliban in 2001, shattered the morale of Islamic radicals in Central Asia. The
al Qaeda attacks against civilians in Iraq, and other Moslem countries, has not
helped with Islamic radical recruiting.
The weakness of the Islamic radical movement may
only be temporary. Most governments in Central Asia have turned into
inefficient dictatorships. Kazakhstan just held national elections that were
declared, by foreign observers, to be rigged. The largest country in the
region, Uzbekistan, has a president-for-life and a decrepit economy that breeds
emmigration and resentment. Seventy years of Soviet rule left its mark. First,
there was the inability to manage an economy efficiently. But then there was
that highly effective Soviet police state. Islamic radicalism may not be the
result of all this, but continued unrest certainly is.
which borders China, three Defense Ministry employees have been arrested so far
this Summer, and charged with spying for China. China and Russia have much
influence in the region, and, as they have for centuries, buy the services of
as many government officials as they can.