September 4, 2005
Uzbekistan is playing hardball in its efforts to get back political opponents of the current Uzbek dictator, who fled to Kyrgyzstan after a failed uprising last May. Uzbekistan threatens to cut of fuel shipments to Kyrgyzstan if fifteen of these refugees are not handed over. The UN and most Western nations oppose this, as the refugees face torture or death in Uzbekistan. This could get interesting, because, while Uzbekistan controls the natural gas supply for Kyrgyzstan, Kyrgyzstan controls much of the water supply for Uzbekistan. So the Kyrgyz may tell the Uzbeks to forget about getting the refugees back. Neither country is well equipped to go to war over this, and the Uzbeks know that Kyrgyzstan can call on its American ally, a military power that even Russia and China defer to.