I confess I am often distinctly skeptical about the analysis produced by STRATFOR (although they do have some of the prettiest graphics around), but while not agreeing with a fair amount of the piece overall, Peter Zeihan’s The Kyrgyzstan Crisis and the Russian Dilemma does make an interesting and important point about the role of Uzbekistan. Talk of the ‘Uzbek goliath’ is misleading and the suggestion that an Uzbek/Russian military showdown in likely, maybe even imminent, is I would suggest way off beam. However, shorn of some of this sensationalism it does rightly raise the issue of Tashkent’s regional ambitions. Analysis too often regards the ‘stans as (1) victims of circumstance, (2) pawns or booty in geopolitical rivalries between Moscow, Beijing and Washington or (3) eagerly selling themselves to the highest bidder — but almost always essentially on a par with one another, as if there really isn’t a great difference between them. Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, in their different ways, have ambitions towards regional authority that will be worth watching in the future, though. In the current crisis in Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan can fear instability on its border (especially as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan starts to sift back into Central Asia and look for unstable, undercontrolled havens), resent the treatment of ethnic Uzbeks and see opportunities for influence all at the same time…
The Uzbek factor in Kyrgyzstan
Posted by Mark Galeotti on June 15, 2010
This blog's author, Dr Mark Galeotti has been researching Russian history and security issues since the late 1980s.
Educated at Cambridge University and the LSE, he is now senior research fellow at the Institute of International Relations Prague and director of the consultancy firm Mayak Intelligence. Previously he has been Professor of Global Affairs at New York University, head of the History department at Keele University in the UK, an adviser at the British Foreign Office and a visiting professor at MGIMO (Moscow), Charles University (Prague) and Rutgers (Newark).
His books include the edited collections 'The Politics of Security in Modern Russia' (Ashgate), 'Russian & Soviet Organized Crime' (Ashgate) and 'Spetsnaz: Russia's Special Forces' (Osprey) and he is a regular contributor to Jane's Intelligence Review, Oxford Analytica and many other outlets. He is a contributing editor to Business New Europe.
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