Central Asia: Kyrgyzstan Chooses the Dark Side

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September 7, 2006: Police in Kyrgyzstan have arrested Islamic radicals trying to organize demonstrations against the government, and recruit men for more violent operations. While Islamic radicals have been present in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan since the 1990s (the end of the Cold War), there were not a lot of them. A few crackdowns wiped out the most active Islamic terrorists. But as long as the governments in Central Asia are run by tyrants, the economic problems and police state tactics will just drive more people to support the Islamic radicals. Secular reformers are less of a threat, as there are fewer of them, and they tend to live in the better policed urban areas. For centuries, opposition political movements got started in the mosques.
The center of Islamic radicalism remains the Ferghana Valley (which runs through Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.)
August 15, 2006; The UN is trying to convince Kyrgyzstan to stop extraditing Uzbek refugees back to Uzbekistan, where they are wanted for opposing the state. The UN has given the refugees official refugee status, which all nations are supposed to respect.
August 12, 2006; Corruption and lawlessness are driving Western businesses out of the region. Tight control of Internet access, especially in Uzbekistan, is another negative factor for Western businesses considering investing in the area.
August 6, 2006; A religious leader and two followers, all members of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) were killed during a joint raid by Uzbek and Kyrgyz security forces. The IMU is now also known as the Islamic Party of Turkestan. The Uzbek secret police have, for years, been operating in southern Kyrgyzstan, searching to Islamic radicals. Religious leaders have been arrested, often on just suspicion. Moderate, as well as radical religious leaders are being attacked, and Kyrgyzstan is adopting the police state tactics favored in Uzbekistan over the last decade.

 

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