While there is some worry
about Islamic radicals, but the big problem in the region remains corruption
and inept government. Islamic radicals are competing with tribal and political
leaders to mobilize public anger and resentment against the police states and
tyrants that control most of Central Asia.
June 20, 2007: Tajikistan approved an amnesty
that would reduce prison sentences for up to 700 Islamic radical jailed as a
result of a 1992-97 civil war. The government is trying to prevent another
uprising of Islamic radicals.
June 16, 2007: A bomb went off outside the
Supreme Court building in the capital of Tajikistan. There were no injuries,
and no one took credit.
May 31, 2007: The SCO (Shanghai Cooperation
Organization. consisting of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan,
Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan) held several days of joint military exercises
in Kyrgyzstan. These were largely to improve cooperation between the
troops of the nations, in the event that the larger partners (Russia and China)
were called in to help with a counter-terrorism operation, or to help keep a
local ruler in power. At the moment, the major goals of the SCO is to get
the United States to withdraw their troops and bases from the
region. Russia and China, which dominate the organization, believe American
influence is threatening the dictators who dominate the governments of Central
Asia. These despots are considered, at least by Russia and China, easier to
deal with than democratically elected governments. China is still a communist
dictatorship, while Russia is ruled by an elected, but very authoritarian,
government.The SCO effort got the U.S. base in Uzbekistan closed,
but the one in Kyrgyzstan remains because the Americans agreed to pay an
additional $130 million a year in rent. The U.S. stations about a thousand
troops at an airfield that is used to handle transport flights between Europe
and Afghanistan. Russia has a similar base, not too far away, with 400 troops
and about twenty aircraft.
May 30, 2007: A bomb went off in
southern Kyrgyzstan, destroying the archives to two newspapers in the
city of Osh. Journalists and media have been the victims of threats and attacks
by gangsters and politicians who don't like what's being said about them.
May 29, 2007: Medical experts confirmed that
someone had tried to poison the Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan, Almazbek
Atambayev, on May 11th. Atambayev took sick that day, but it's taken two weeks
of test to confirm the poisoning attempt. Terrorists are not suspected. The
chief suspects are whosever sent death threats, relating to government plans to
nationalize a large semiconductor factory.