Central Asia: Dirty Money To Die For


June 11, 2010: Ethnic violence in southern Kyrgyzstan has caused over 200 casualties in the last few days. In the south, where most of the Uzbek minority (14 percent of the population) lives, Kyrgyz supporters of ousted president Bakiyev  are fighting local Uzbeks. Most of the violence is in the southern city of Jalalabad. While the violence appears to be ethnic, a lot of it is centered around Kyrgyz families that supported former president Bakiyev, had received jobs from him, and had been corrupt (either as government officials or businessmen). Bakiyev was himself was the head of a reform government, that replaced a corrupt one, and many Kyrgyz are wondering if the new reformers will be any cleaner. The Kyrgyz in the south, who supported Bakiyev, will lose a lot if the new government takes complete control of the south.

Russia is trying to get the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) to help with the unrest in Kyrgyzstan,  and crippling the Afghanistan drug trade. The SCO consists of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, with Mongolia, Pakistan, India and Iran as associate members, or "observers". The SCO, unofficially, exists to keep the peace between China and Russia over economic activities in Central Asia. At the moment, China is winning the race to develop large oil and gas fields in Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. China needs the energy, and is willing to pay whatever it takes. Since the Central Asian nations are run by corrupt leaders, often dictators, the Chinese have an easy, if expensive, way to gaining control of natural resources. At the moment, Russia more concerned with halting, or much reducing, the flow of opium, hashish and heroin from Afghanistan to Russia. These drugs have created millions of addicts and major social problems. Russia has supplied the United States with extensive information on the drug gangs in Afghanistan, and throughout Central Asia, and how the smuggling networks operate. Russia is also trying to get more cooperation from Central Asian governments as well. But in many of these countries, senior officials are on the drug gang payrolls.

A naval arms race is brewing on the Caspian Sea (the largest lake in the world, and a major body of water for Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Russia, and Turkmenistan). Iran recently built a 1,400 ton corvette at a Caspian shipyard. Russia, which controls access to the ocean via the Volga-Don canal, can bring in large warships (up to 140 meters long), and is doing so. Kazakhstan is seeking Russian help in expanding its fleet with three new corvettes and three new patrol boats.

June 6, 2010: Uzbekistan is preventing hundreds of railroad cars (loaded with NATO supplies for troops in Afghanistan) from crossing into Tajikistan, on the pretense that needed repairs must be made on several kilometers of rails. The real reason is a diplomatic dispute Uzbekistan has with Tajikistan. NATO must reroute these trains via other rail lines that enter Afghanistan.

June 3, 2010: Uzbekistan has removed its troops from a small portion of southern Kyrgyzstan. Uzbek troops had been there for nearly a week, to protect ethnic Uzbeks from Kyrgyz gangs loyal to deposed Kyrgyzstan president Bakiyev.

June 2, 2010:  The new Kyrgyzstan government has blocked fuel shipments to U.S. aircraft using Manus air base. This has been done because the government believes that the family of recently deposed ruler Kurmanbek Bakiyev were receiving over a million dollars a week in kickbacks on the fuel contracts. As a result of the halt in fuel supplies, the U.S. is shifting its aerial tankers from Manas to other air bases in the region.

June 1, 2010: Kyrgystan has ended the state of emergency in the southern districts of Jalalabad and Suzak. In the last few weeks, there has been violence between Uzbek and Kyrgyz groups. Many Kyrgyz in the south were working with corrupt ex-president Kurmanbek Bakiyev. There were about 70 injuries, including three dead. About a thousand security personnel were se



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