Central Asia: May 15, 2005


In the eastern Uzbek town of Andijan, police and troops continued to use violence to disperse crowds of demonstrators. Over 500 civilians have been killed, and several thousand wounded or injured in the violence and chaos. Several thousand civilians have fled to the nearby  Kyrgyzstan border.  Uzbek president Islam Karimov is a much tougher character than the recently deposed dictator in neighboring Kyrgyzstan. Karimov has a better organized police state, and troops who are willing to kill Uzbeks. The country has a population of about 25 million, with some of the densest concentrations in the east, around towns like  Andijan.  Karimov is blaming the unrest on Islamic radicals, but the resistance appears to be forming around tribal and clan groups that are unhappy with  Karimov's corrupt and inefficient rule. More troops and police are being sent to towns around Andijan, where civilians, some of them armed, have taken over government buildings, and run off police.  

While  Karimov  doesn't know how to manage the economy, he has, so far, been much better at dealing with police and security matters. However,  Karimov has lots of enemies in the country, and this could be the beginning of his overthrow, or a period of civil war, or at least civil disorder.  


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