Eurasia, Lecture 4: R. James Ferguson © 2003

INTR13-304 & INTR71/72-304, The Department of International Relations, SHSS, Bond University, Queensland, Australia

Lecture 4:

An Arc of Instability? -

Security Dilemmas in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Chechnya

Topics: -

1. Zones of Instability

2. History of Uzbek Nationality

3. Uzbekistan: Conflict and Modernisation

4. Civil War In Tajikistan

5. Blockages to Regional Cooperation

6. Bibliography and Further Resources

1. Zones of Instability

From 1946-1989 the borders of the former Soviet Union represented some of the most heavily fortified frontiers in the world. From the Chinese border, along the frontiers of Iran and Turkey, this was a long and difficult zone of confrontation. Afghanistan was soon drawn into this Cold War game with the Soviet invasion of 1979. Afghanistan and Tajikistan remained subject to the legacies of fierce civil wars from the 1990s, and to different forms of international intervention. Until these disputed regions can become truly stabilised, the prospects of major cooperation between Central and South Asia will be extremely limited. Likewise, such examples of conflict remain a negative factor for the stability of the entire region of 'Greater Central Asia'.

Uzbekistan represents a rather different legacy: though possibly a major power regionally, it has been prevented from taking up this role by ethnic, economic and political liabilities. At present, the pattern of development within Uzbekistan remains lopsided regionally and demographically (Hanks 2000). It has since been disturbed by both limits in its democratic process, as well as by the action of Islamic militants, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) who have been active in Uzbekistan and also launched raids in to Kyrgyzstan, through 1991-2001 (Rashid 2001). These factors have led to increased cooperation among region states, but now premised on notions of stronger security and monitored borders.

The late 2001 intervention in Afghanistan opened up new possibilities for regional cooperation, as well as changing power balances among Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, the United States and active European nations, including Britain, France (see Blua 2002) and Germany (economically). U.S. military cooperation with Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan deepened through 2001-2003. The U.S. negotiated access to the Khanadbad airbase as a staging point for operations against Afghanistan (Feifer 2002), as well as operating a forward command and operations centre in the country (regional influences and prospects deriving from the intervention in Afghanistan for the period 2001-2003 will be examined in later lectures). Likewise, the control of illegal drug flows (Kohn 2001), smuggling (arms and people), illicit financial flows, coping with refugees, and rebuilding shattered nations such as Tajikistan have meant Uzbekistan abuts a region of relative instability in Central Asia.

The other major security dilemma for the region has been the possible regional impact of the ongoing conflict in Chechnya. Perhaps the most problematic area for Russia through 1998-2002 has been the small state of Chechnya, which it has tried to forced into line as a member of the Russian Federation. This involved Russia in a disastrous war in the 1994-1996 period, and a new offensive in late 1999 through early 2001, resulting in major territorial victories by 2002. Although the Russian army was able to win this war militarily, there is still no guarantee that this will lead to a stable political solution that would inspire regional confidence A dirty guerrilla war continues today in Chechnya through 2002, and the northern Caucasus, within the territory of the Russian Federation, remains relatively disaffected. Furthermore, the massive scale of force used against Chechnya has shocked the international community and demonstrated some of the weaknesses in the Russian democratic system. The Chechens continued to strike back against the Russians, with a major hostage crisis in Moscow during late 2002 indicating the ability of Chechens to continue striking at the heart of Russia. The Russian response, which involve the use of a gas that killed many of the hostages, was once again seen as clumsy and heavy-handed. The ongoing irritant of Chechnya will be further considered in the seminars.

2. History of Uzbek Nationality

Let us turn first to another major ethnic grouping in Central Asia. The earliest origins of the Uzbeks are uncertain: at first, they were probably 'Tartar' warriors, probably of the Golden Horde, who followed the Mongols into Central Asia (Allworth 1990, pp32-3). The Uzbeks enter known political history as a powerful tribal Confederation which circa 1400 AD controlled a large section of territory just north of the Caspian and Aral Sea, slightly north of current Uzbekistan (Allworth 1990, p7). The Uzbeks first sided with groups opposing both Russia and the empire of Timurid (founded by Amir Timur, reigning 1370-1405, known in the West as Tamerlane), and were feared for their fighting prowess, as well as noted for their hospitality and generosity (Allworth 1990, p20; see further Weisbrode 1997). Though other races sometimes viewed Uzbeks as 'villains', their 'conception of justice included a belief that the ruler would deal fairly and responsibly with his subjects, good and bad, high and low' (Allworth 1990, p8). These themes of justice and duty would later on be reinforced by the impact of Islam, and particularly by the influence of Sufism (indigenous forms of Islam) upon Uzbek leaders (Allworth 1990, pp63-4). 

External Resource: Maps of Uzbekistan can be found at

http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/uzbekistan.html

As noted by Edward Allworth, after 'the major migration south at the end of the 15th century, large bodies of Uzbeks lived with different people, often distant kinsmen in Western Siberia, Turkistan, the khanates of Khwarazm and Qoqan plus the emirate of Bukhara, northern Afghanistan and Khurasan' (Allworth 1990, p12). In effect, Uzbeks were spread across much of the old Silk Road trading route, as well as in the current territory of Uzbekistan. Although not creating any large empire, they became a major regional force after the rule of their Abul Khayr Khan (1412-68 A.D.). It was after the 15th century that the Uzbek ethnic identity began to separate from the Kazakh groups (Allworth 1990, pp46-7) who occupied territory slightly to the north. In such a location, the emirates of the Uzbeks were also trading cities, with diplomacy and trade often linked (Allworth 1990, pp80-1).

The rulers of Bukhara and Khiva at first tried to cooperate with the growing power of the Russian state, but soon found their caravans and outer districts attacked by Russian Cossacks and other allies, while Russian diplomats collected military intelligence on the cities of Central Asia (Allworth 1990, p88). In the 18th century, the Russians also became convinced of the illusion that Central Asia was awash with resources of easily mined gold (Allworth 1990, p93, p98). Although some of these cities began to modernise in the late 19th century (casting better cannon and bringing in printing presses), they would eventually fall under effective Russian control by 1895.

Faced with the realities of this defeat, that Islamic reformers within the region created the Jadid movement during the early 20th century, hoping to link modern humanitarian and scientific education to a tolerant, though religiously strict, form of Islam (Allworth 1990, pp146-7). They opened 'new schools', performed plays, and opened some 23 newspapers and journals before 1917 (Allworth 1990, p152). In Khiva, they also sought to force a constitutional monarchy on the Khan. For a short time, the Soviet state favoured an enlightened nationalities policy, declaring the equality of all 'toiling people' during the 1917-1918 period (Hosking 1992, pp98-99), but this would soon be reversed. It was followed by the declaration of the Turkestan Autonomous Government, based on Qoqan. Both would be crushed by Soviet forces during the turbulent period of 1917-20 (Hosking 1992, pp108-113; Allworth 1990, pp172-3).

Unfortunately, this policy was not sustained when nationalism seemed to clash with communist internationalism. By 1923 the policy of the Bolshevics had reversed policies and Soviet leaders regarded such nationalist movements with suspicion. Local leaders such as Sultan Galiev were arrested and eventually sent to concentration camps or executed. The modernising trend in Islam was repressed by the Russians and then the Soviets, as well as opposed by orthodox clergy. After this, Basmachi and Qorbashi fighters would wage a guerilla war against the Soviets through the 1920s and early 30s. The Soviets would also decide in time that a unified Turkestan (incorporating all of Central Asia) was not a good idea, from 1924 dividing the region into the separate republics (with some further boundary alterations) which we have today. Likewise, they engaged in a policy to crush religious superstition, eradicate Islamic religious traditions, and to 'liberate and modernise' Muslim women (Keller 1998). These programs were of limited success (to be discussed further in later lectures).

After this time, the Soviets used the issue of ethnicity as a political tool: -

Communist officials, brandishing accusations of creating ethnic conflict, beat down Central Asia efforts to form new heterogeneous states based on existing relationships among local subgroups. The political authorities blamed Central Asians with independent ideas for exacerbating ethnic tensions in the region. Ethnic tension became a code phrase to condemn any local government initiative outside Russian-controlled structures. (Allworth 1990, p195)

With tools such as these Stalin sought to repress nationalist movements, and emasculate a rising intellectual class which might challenge the Communist Party. This was aided, right through until the 1970s, by a thorough and effective system of state censorship. Such rhetoric would be repeated in the late 1980s when Gorbachev opposed self-determination movements, arguing that nationalist leaders were nothing more than selfish thugs stirring up ethnic conflict.

Yet all these efforts could not destroy an enduring Uzbek sense of identity, and pride in the heritage of Central Asia. The 2,500 year anniversary of Samarkand, the capital of the empire created by Timur (Tamerlane, 1336-1405, Turkmen-Mongol conqueror who created an inland empire in the region), was celebrated in 1968 (Allworth 1992, p245). The conqueror Timur would be adopted a part of national culture, as would Islamic and Sufi saints, whose tombs remained secretly venerated. These issues have been revived as part of a national identity project: -

The effort in Uzbekistan chiefly involves turning Timur into a national "Uzbek" hero. Monuments to Timur and his grandson Ulugbek have risen where statues of Lenin once stood. The new indoctrination attempts not only to fill the void left by communism's fall but to reinforce the notion of Uzbekistan as a naturally evolving nation-state with deep roots in the past. (Feif 2002)

As early as 1961 Said Shermuhamedaw could proudly speak of Uzbek character traits which included 'patriotism, heroism, amicability, humanitarianism, and industriousness', with Uzbeks especially notable for 'hospitality, courtesy, and love of children, along with musicality and poetic nature' (Allworth 1992, p276). Likewise, Uzbeks can draw on certain social tradition which in future helped them negotiate their way through the post-Soviet world, e.g. the custom of the bazam, a formal intellectual conversation in which all sit in a circle, all equal, though a special guest might sit in the position facing the entrance to the room (Allworth 1990, p290).

3. Uzbekistan: Conflict and Modernisation

Uzbekistan is not only the most populous state in Central Asia, with over 24 million, of whom 71% are Uzbeks, with small Russian (6%), Tajik (5%), Kazakh, Tartar and Karakalpal minorities, along with some ethnic Koreans, Germans and Poles (DFAT 2001; Feif 2002). It is also one of the states most affected in the struggle throughout the early 1990s between Islam, partly influenced by the Arab Wahabism sect as well as the opposing Islamic Renaissance Party (IRP), and the authoritarian government of President Islam Karimov (Rashid 1994, pp78-81, p99, p101). Since 1989, the republic has also been shaken by ethnic violence (1989, against Meskhetian Turks) and riots against inflation (mostly by students, in 1992).

In part, the ethnic tensions of the entire region were engineered by Stalin's intentional division of the area into republics which were heterogeneous, thereby ensuring that different tribal, cultural and language groups would be placed together in one republic. The most classic statement of this is the division of the most fertile agricultural land in the region, the Ferghana valley, between Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan (Rashid 1994, p89, p100). In fact, one of the ironies of the region is that due to extremely mountainous, desert, or cold terrain, there are only limited pockets of naturally fertile land in Central Asia (approximately on 15% of the entire region is arable). This means that conflicts over control of fertile valley land can be extremely intense.

Because of Soviet agricultural policies, large irrigation schemes have not aided this problem, but have helped destroy much land through salination, excessive use of fertilisers, and has also resulted in the almost complete destruction of the Aral Sea. This problem effected Uzbekistan as well, where cotton production rose from 2.24 to 9.10 million tons between 1940 and 1980, though a poor Uzbek would be unlikely to pay the import cost of Russian manufactured cotton shirts (Rashid 1994, p91). As of the mid-1990s, Uzbekistan produced 20% of the world's cotton (Jones 1995b) and with high prices in the mid-90s, hoped to maintain good cash flows into the country. However, poor crops in 2000 reduced income through 2001, with also increases in local food stuffs (DFAT 2001). As we have seen (lecture 3), problems in water usage, irrigation, and damage to the Aral Sea has had a negative impact the ability of the country to rely too strongly on cotton production.

Aside from cotton, Uzbekistan does have a range of other natural resources which need further development. As noted by Ahmed Rashid: -

Uzbekistan has a large natural gas industry, which produced 41 billion cubic metres in 1991, much of it from the Mubarek gas fields. Uzbek gas is still exported along a pipeline that stretches from Bukhara to the Urals. Uzbekistan's petroleum production in 1990 was 2.8 million tons and a large oilfield was discovered in the Ferghana valley in March 1992. (Rashid 1994, p94)

Uzbekistan, however, like nearby Kazakhstan, has the problem of how to export its oil and gas onto the world market, and at present still relies in large part on older Russian infrastructure. At present, it produces more than enough oil for its own needs, and has large gas fields that would make the eight-largest gas producer globally (Feif 2002). It has had some problems in mobilising resources and investment for future modernisation of its fields, and through 2002 planned to sell 49% of it stake in Uzbekneftegaz, the state-own company that controls the petroleum sector (Feif 2002).

The country also has some metallic resources, including sizeable gold reserves underground, and an industrial base which includes a quite well-skilled base of technicians and workers, although this has been eroded by some 1.7 million Russians leaving since 1988 (Rashid 1994, p95; literacy in the country verges on 100%). Another main problem had been the slowness of development of the private sector, with a mere 5-9% of gross national product accounted for in late 1992, though many joint ventures have been planned (Rashid 1994, pp95-6). Foreign investment has only begun in earnest in Uzbekistan during the last eight years, and the World Bank and the International Monetary initially only pledged some $300 million in aid. The result was rather uneven economic development through the 1990s: "the government began a reform program in 1994, including tight monetary policies, privatisation of government-owned enterprises and improving the investment environment. Inflation continues to be a problem - it topped over 40 percent in 1996, although it has dropped to 23 percent in 1999. The country's GDP growth moved from an economic contraction of -1 percent in 1995 to marginal growth of 2 percent in 1999, with foreign debt still at high levels - close to 3 billion" (DFAT 2001). Foreign investment remains limited, in part through concerns over corruption, government control of resources, and concerns over an overly strong set level for the currency (the som), which makes it not freely convertible, e.g. held for a time at the official rate of 430 som per American dollar, compared to the black market rate of 1,200 in 2002 (Feif 2002; through early 2002 the som moved to around 960 to the dollar). Through 2002, however, there was a serious improvement in the rate of privatisation: 'A total of 1,912 enterprises were privatized in 2002, 30% more than in 2001' (Interfax 2003a). The Asian Development Bank (ADB) also announced that it 'plans to provide Uzbekistan with over $500 million in credits in 2003-2005 to implement 11 investment projects' (Interfax 2003b).

The slow change-over to capitalism has resulted in early high unemployment rates - 22.8 percent in 1990. The government has attempted to pull back land under cotton production, and become more self-sufficient in food (Hans 2000, pp356-357), but as of 1994 there had been no serious attempt to reform land ownership, because the issue might have been explosive in the Ferghana valley region (Rashid 1994, p96). Plans were set up in 1995-6 to establish long-term private leases for up to 40% of the irrigated land. Aside from cotton, the country also exports tobacco, and can produce more food for internal consumption. However, Uzbekistan must also face both relatively high population growth and the fact that a large number of young people will try to enter its work-force in the next decade (60% of the population are under 25 years of age). As a result, the economy must grow at a very fast rate to ensure social stability (Hanks 2000, p351). It is possible that by the year 2015 Uzbekistan might have a population of 36 million (Hanks 2000, p357). In large part, the country will rely on foreign direct investment (FDI) to stimulate such growth, but at present the geographical spread of such investment tends to be unbalanced, focusing on Tashkent region (Hanks 2000, p360).

Reform in the economy is based on a kind of gradualism, characterised as the 'Uzbek Road': -

Stability, the early principal goal, is to be secured by pro-employment economic policies, public education, child allowances, and welfare allotments to neighborhood associations (mahallah) run by elders. Once self-sufficiency in energy and food has been secured, government guidance and investments will pursue growth by developing backward linkages into more extensive cotton processing, textiles, food processing, petrochemicals and plastics, and agricultural machinery. Imported equipment and technology are essential to this investment strategy, which if successful would increase exports of semi-fabricated and manufactured goods. (Spechler 2000)

The main elements of this "Uzbek Road" include: -

Uzbekistan is one of the few states in the region that has ensured that it has a strong military presence, cooperating with Russia on CIS defence arrangements, then asserting a more independent posture since 2001. As noted by Rashid: -

<President> Karimov has created a National Guard of some seven hundred men and a new Ministry of Defence, staffed largely by Russian officers. The National Guard is being rapidly expanded. In early 1992 the government began to take over Russian military installations in agreement with Moscow, and in May all Uzbek soldiers serving outside Uzbekistan were recalled home to serve under a joint CIS-Uzbek military command which has 15,000 troops and 280 tanks as well as a large, modern air force. This command works closely with Moscow, as was seen by the military help given by Tashkent to pro-communist Tajik forces who defeated the Tajik Islamic opposition in December 1992.

While the civil war in Tajikistan preoccupied all Central Asia leaders, Karimov publicly proclaimed that he wanted Russia 'to be the guarantor of security in Central Asia'. (Rashid 1994, pp102-3)

In other words, Uzbekistan had favoured the CIS arrangement as a security guarantee, but it was reluctant to go all the way with Russia and has resisted initiatives for a new Eurasian Union. Uzbekistan has managed to build up a regionally-strong national force, as of 1995 including 20,000 in the army, a small but modern airforce including 32 MiG-29s and 32 Su-27s, plus paramilitary units of some 16,000 men, and Internal Security troops of 15,300 (Chipman 1995, pp166-7). By 1998, this has been strengthened further, with some 50,000 in the army, 17-19,000 Internal Security Troops, and 1,000 in the national guard (Chipman 1998, p164). Through 2002, there was an active defence force of 50-55,000, with 18-20,000 internal security troops (Chipman 2002, p137). In late 1999, Uzbekistan once again re-affirmed its military cooperation with Russia in a Russo-Uzbek military cooperation agreement designed to deepen coordination in a number of areas including military-technical cooperation. The agreement was signed for the 'sake of ensuring military security, fighting international terrorism, bolstering cooperation in the development and production of armaments and military equipment, and training military personnel for the Russian and Uzbek armed forces' (ITAR/TASS 1999).

Uzbekistan's importance was further increased strategically once the United States and its allies decided to engage in military action against the Taliban and Al-Quaeda bases in Afghanistan. After negotiations with both Uzbekistan and Russia, bases and facilities in Uzbekistan were used to set up communication, command and control centres. As a result, this country in a sense became part of the 'front line' against terrorism, with its government also gaining de facto support for its hardline policies against Islam generally. Likewise, Uzbekistan hopes that its engagement as an ally of the United States will also result in long term economic and diplomatic benefits. Through 2002-2003 this has resulted in increased military aid and cooperation, worth at $160 million in 2002 (Feif 2002). This has led to some Russian fears that Uzbekistan might become 'another Turkey', cooperating with the U.S. and NATO (e.g. through the Partnership for Peace program, with joint exercises in the region in 1998 and 2000), but this time in the heart of Eurasia (Feif 2002).

Uzbekistan, then, remains an important linchpin of Central Asia. Its progress towards economic and ethnic stability, or the lack of such progress, is crucial in determining the future of Eurasian stability. In spite of government preference for a secular style of government, there is no doubt that faith in Islam is growing within the country - in 1993 the country only had some 200 mosques, in 1995 it could claim approximately 5,000 (Jones 1995b). Yet the opposition parties, Birlik (Unity) and Erk parties have been banned from participating in elections, with only the government People's Democratic Party and 'official' (co-opted) Fatherland Progress Party holding most of the 250 seats in the Parliament (Jones 1995b).

From the late 1990s Uzbekistan began stepping up its operations again Muslim groups, in particular against the IMU, which it claimed had been involved in a February 1999 bombing outside the Parliament in Tashkent, killing 16, but not harming President Karimov, who may have been the target (Feif 2002). The IMU had its origins in Islamic religious and social movements, especially in the Fergana Valley: -

The IMU began as a small group of local imams, known as Adolat (justice), who in 1991 attempted to impose Islamic law to counter widespread corruption in Namangan, a city in the Fergana Valley, Uzbekistan's most fertile, densely populated, and conservative area. But Adolat turned toward extremism and began seeking the overthrow of the government the following year, when an official crackdown forced its members to flee to Tajikistan and Afghanistan. There they trained with Afghan mujahideen and built strong ties to both the Northern Alliance and the Taliban. The movement then gained popular Uzbek support when the state expanded its crackdown to include any practicing Muslims and their extended families; by 1997, for example, Uzbeks could be arrested simply for wearing traditional Muslim clothing, having a beard, or possessing Islamic literature. When bombs were set off in Tashkent in February 1999, allegedly by the IMU, although the charges remain unproven, mass arrests followed. But the state's heavy-handed tactics ended up convincing even moderate Islamists that only further violence could get the regime to change its ways. (Jones Luong & Weinthal 2002)

Since that time forces in Uzbekistan have been engaged in suppressing the IMU, which has also been involved in conflict in Kyrgyzstan, as well as drawing in recruits from Tajikistan and possibly even in China (Feif 2002). The IMU, operating in the country side, may had between 1,000-9,000 supporters, some of them trained in Afghanistan (Feif 2002). However, the IMU largely operates from the countryside, has been unable to gain strong support in the cities, and had it ability to gain support from Afghanistan eroded through from 2001. Its leader Juma Namangani may have been killed during 2002 in Afghanistan (Feif 2002), but the IMU is a rather decentralised organisation, not relying on a single leader.

However, it turn Karimov has launched a crack down on all forms of opposition, including civil rights groups and moderate Islamic organisation. This includes the 'Party of Liberation', which aimed at an Islamic state by peaceful means (Feif 2002). This is Hizb-ut-Tahrir (HT), which 'operates highly secretive decentralized cells in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan', but many of whose members were arrested in Uzbekistan (Rashid 2001).Up to 7,000 Muslim opponents have been imprisoned, with up to 30 dying during detention (Polat 2002). Likewise, members of the Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan have been harassed and tortured, as well as villagers in the zones where the IMU have made incursions, e.g. along the Tajik border (Feif 2002).

As of 2002, only four political parties, all approved of by President Karimov, are allowed to effectively participate in elections (Polat 2002). President Karimov also moved to weaken powerful clan leaders in his government in October 1998, sacking two senior ministers and replacing them with loyal followers (Economist 1998). Karimov was re-elected on 9 January 2000 for his second term, indicting the primacy once again of Presidential rule in the region. The OSCE was concerned that a range of factors undermined the fairness of the election, and decline to act as observers to it (Feif 2002), suggesting that the 91.9% vote for Karimov should be viewed critically. A referendum (January 2002) was held to reform the operation of the Parliament and to also extend the presidential term from 5 up to 7 years. The proposal passed with a claimed 'yes' vote of 92%, but among widespread cynicism, non-participation and confusion among the electorate (see Machleder 2002; Feif 2002).

Uzbekistan has other concerns alongside the challenge of Islam paries. The ethnic rivalries which emerged in the civil war in nearby Tajikistan after 1990 represent one of the worst possible models, with large numbers of deaths and large refugee outflows resulting from the move to crush Islamic 'fundamentalism'. These moves may be based on a mistaken policy of Central Asian security emerging from Russia's big brother role (Juraeva 1994). This explains in part why Uzbekistan has placed such an emphasis on a security relationship with Russia and in using the CIS framework as its main regional institution. Uzbekistan has also built up its own military power more quickly than neighbouring states. We will see this in more detail through the crisis in Tajikistan to understand the way religion has been used politically. But before doing this, we will need to briefly assess the pervasive influence of the civil war in Afghanistan and the Soviet intervention (1979-1989). As of late 1996, Afghanistan also became a major security issue for all of Central Asia once again as Taliban forces, lead by Mohammed Omar (Pannier 1996) pushed forward to capture Kabul (late September 1996) and then threatened the balance of interests in the region. By 2001, the Taliban had foolishly positioned themselves as one of the most unpopular regimes in the world, outraging much Muslim as well as Western sentiment. They also hosted training camps and had connections with Al-Quaeda that would embroil them in the first phase of the international 'war against terrorism' (the regional impact will be addressed in later lectures).

4. Civil War In Tajikistan

Tajikistan, ancient Bactria and Sogdiana, is one of the smaller states in the region with a population of approx. 5.9 million. It came under east Persian influence from the 7th century B.C., and later on was influenced by west Persian languages and by Islam (Gardiner-Garden 1995b, p44). From the 16th century it came under Uzbek and then Russian influence, finally being absorbed by the Soviets in the 1920s. From the 1950s, many Tajiks were forced to resettle in the south-west, resulting in friction with a sizeable Uzbek minority in that region (Gardiner-Garden 1995b, p44). Anti-Russian feeling developed during the 1970s, with a reported demonstration of some 13,000 being repressed in 1978 (Gardiner-Garden 1995b, p44). Occasional ethnic and civil unrest continued through the 1980s, with riots in 1990 protesting against scarce housing, and rumours that the Russians would settle Armenian refugees in Dushanbe (Gardiner-Garden 1995b, p44). With the aid of Soviet Interior Ministry troops and local militia, these demonstrations were quelled, but with the death of at least 22 people and some 565 injured (Gardiner-Garden 1995b, p45).

External Resource: Map of Tajikistan can be found at,

http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/commonwealth/tajikistan_rel01.jpg

In spite of reforms sweeping the USSR, opposition parties such as Rastokhez (Rebirth), the Democratic Party of Tajikistan and Islam Renaissance Party were at first refused the right to participate in elections (Gardiner-Garden 1995b, p45). In the wake of the failed Anti-Gorbachev coupe, First Secretary Makkhamov was forced to resign, and public demonstrations demanded the dissolution of the Republic's Communist Party and the holding of new multi-party democratic elections. Although a state of emergency was declared, the new leader, Rakhmon Nabiyev, was forced to review his policies. As summarised by John Gardiner-Garden: -

The demonstrations, however, continued and Nabiyev was soon obliged to rescind the state of emergency, suspend the Communist Party and legalise the banned Islamic Resistance Party <sic, probably should be Renaissance Party>. A healthy multi-party system started to emerge - with non-communist parties including a moderate Islamic party, the Takij-nationalist Rastokhez party, the pro-Western Democratic Party of Tajikistan, and the Pamiri-separatist party Lale Badakhshon. In October 1991 Presidential elections the democratic candidate fared well but, amid allegations of electoral malpractice, he was defeated by Nabiyev. In December 1991 Tajikistan became a founding member of the CIS.

Nabiyev's attempts in early 1992 to consolidate the conservatives' hold on power brought the democratic, Islamic and Pamiri opposition out onto the streets. In April troops fired on demonstrators and in May the Republican secret police allegedly distributed weapons to the communist supporters (Gardiner-Garden 1995b, p45).

The political, ethnic divisions in the country included a tendency for the wealthier northern parts of the country, including large parts of the Uzbek and Russian minorities, to support the reborn conservative government under Nabiyev (Gardiner-Garden 1995b, p45). The government was largely based on northern, more industrialised groups, the Khojandis, and their chief 'clients' in the south, the Kulyabis, who viewed themselves as the more educated groups and natural rulers of the opposing Pamiri and Garmi ethnic groups (Richter 1994, pp84-85). Although there were attempts to create a 'Government of National Reconciliation', this failed as further violence in the streets of Dushanbe escalated during August and September 1992. The government was opposed by a loose Islamic-Democratic alliance, in the south by the Tajik Popular Front (Gardiner-Garden 1995b, p46), and by the Pamiri people of the eastern province of Gorny Badakhshan. Complicated faction fighting led to the emerging leadership of Imamli Rakhmanov, but the country was still divided, with a separatist Pamir republic being destroyed in early 1993. Supporters of the government included 'thuggish' militia elements (Economist 1994a) who committed many atrocities during the conflict.

In any terms, the civil war was costly. Estimates range from 20-150,000 deaths, with up to 650,000 displaced, and some 35,000 houses destroyed (Richter 1994, p81; Gardiner-Garden 1995b, p46; Borisov 2003). Some 100,000 refugees had fled to Afghanistan, creating a complex border situation with insurgents able to re-enter Tajikistan until the border was more securely patrolled after 1993. The Rakhmanov government, in fact, became more authoritarian, controlling the press, and outlawing opposition parties, while at the same time welcoming the presence of the Russian 201st Motorised Rifle Division, as well as CIS reinforcement of their border guards (Gardiner-Garden 1995b, p46). The border with Afghanistan remains highly militarised (the Russians only reluctantly allowed it to be re-opened as part of support operations in the campaign against the Taliban during 2001-2002). In turn, the opposition became more dependent on the help of the Mujahedin and on bases in Afghanistan (Gardiner-Garden 1995b, p47), though it controlled the eastern Pamir mountain region of Tajikistan.

In November 1994 Emomali Rakhmanov won the Presidential election, and also ran a referendum giving the president a stronger constitutional power base - since the main Islamic opposition was not allowed to participate, the entire process has been protested as non-democratic (Gardiner-Garden 1995b, p47). The only other candidate allowed to run was Abdumalik Abdulajanov, who came from the northern industrial sector, which had supported the government in the civil war (Economist 1994b), fitting in with the pattern of a 'guided' democracy in which only coopted groups are allowed to participate politically. Parliamentary elections run in February 1995 were also dominated by the Rakhmanov's government view of guided democracy. Furthermore, several important clans, including the Khojand clan, and groups from the southern Kulyab region, retained a strong hold on power (Busvine 1996; Juraeva 1994, p16).

Attempts to stop the civil war resulted in a slow and drawn out process. An October 1994 negotiated cease-fire was broken by intense border fighting in April 1995, with some 30 CIS border guards and some 160 opposition fighters killed (Gardiner-Garden 1995b, p48). Although the UN arranged an Observer Mission to the country in 1994-5, and a cease-fire was in operation from 17 September 1994 (UN Chronicle 1995d), the total size of the UN mission was limited. The UN also ran an appeal to raise $42 million to provide emergency humanitarian aid to the 600,000-plus refugees affected by the war (UN Chronicle 1995e). A series of talks between the government and opposition in 1994-1995 have did not resolve the crisis. A fifth round of talks held in Turkmenistan tried to reach agreement on power sharing (something Russia supports), but the Rakhmanov government refused to follow this path at that time (Australian 1996).

Russian policy seemed somewhat divided: at the military level, it recognised that it will need to remain involved in Tajikistan if it wished to control the sensitive Tajik-Afghan border. At the same time, it has tried to put pressure on the Rakhmanov government to be less authoritarian, to hold fairer elections, and to engage in realistic peace talks (Economist 1994a). The Russians are well aware that their military aid was to some extent being used by an authoritarian government for its own purposes. Anthony Richter argued that Russia would have liked to see its forces, including 'peace keeping' operations, given the greater authority of UN sanctioned operations (Richter 1994, p82).

Only in December 1996 was a peace accord signed between the government and the United Tajik Opposition (UTO) leader Said Abdullo Nuri (Pannier 1997b), with provisions for a power-sharing arrangement between the government and opposition, with free elections 1-2 years later. Peace arrived, but remained fragile. Both sides agreed to a cessation of hostilities, a general amnesty, full exchange of prisoners, while peace talks were to be conducted through 1997 to allow the formation of a National Reconciliation Commission (Pannier 1997a). The Commission was to be made up of 40% government, 40% opposition, and 20% mixed groups (including the National Revival Movement, led by former Prime Minister Abdumalik Abdullajonov, Pannier 1997a). On 27 June The General Agreement on the Establishment of Peace and National Accord in Tajikistan was signed in Moscow, allowing strengthened humanitarian aid programs to continue in the country. In spite of the return home of most internally displaced persons (IDPs) and the resumption of the voluntary repatriation of Tajik refugees from Northern Afghanistan, major developmental and democratic reforms were slow to be fully implemented. In August 1997, armed clashes occurred between government and opposition forces, while during the year sporadic terrorist acts also undermined civilian security. In October 1997, both sides in the conflict still held several hundred prisoners, which would be released under the terms of the General Agreement in due course (Relief Web 1997). Fighting between government forces and northern rebels led by former colonel Khudoiberdyev broke out again in November 1998, but did not indicate a return to a general state of war (China Daily 1998).

In large measure, the Rakhmanov government had indeed 'fallen into absolute dependence on Uzbekistan and Russia' (Juraeva 1994, p15). Although Rakhmanov's policies might seem justified under notions of 'regional stability', the cost of such fragile stability should not be under-estimated. One Tajik academic, writing of events up until 1994, reminded us: -

Tajiks are now deprived of their fundamental rights, including the right to express themselves and even the right to life. The free press is destroyed and many journalists have been killed or are in prison. Opposition parties are banned, their leaders are proclaimed enemies of the nation and the worst of Stalinist traditions of terror are again alive in Tajikistan. (Juraeva 1994, p15)

Furthermore, the Rakhmanov government had used the claimed threat of 'Islamic fundamentalism' to justify its harsh methods and retention of power: -

But in Tajikistan, where the alliance of democrats, patriots and Islamists could have been the shortest way to independence, the myth of Islamic fundamentalism was used very productively. The threat of Islamic fundamentalism became a cover and justification for political repression and widespread ethnic cleansing, including bombing of peaceful villages and regions which withheld support of the pro-clan pro-Communist regime when it returned to power. (Juraeva 1994, p16).

In late 1995 and early 1996, the clan based politics of the Rakhmanov government also showed signs of fracturing. In early February 1996 'pro-government' warlords, Makhmoud Khudoyberdyev and Ibodullo Baimotov captured two different towns near the capital of Dushanbe to emphasise their claims that President Rakhmanov needs to share power among other clans, not just those from the southern Kulyab region (Busvine 1996, p17). Fighting broke out again in late 1998, but was contained by government forces, with rebels retreating into the mountains. Rakhmanov refused to share power with the northern rebels, calling the rebel's actions a coup attempt.

These accords ending the main civil war are hopeful signs, but will need further careful implementation. As of 1999, Rakhmanov remained strongly reliant on Russian military and economic support for his country. Today, the Tajik border with Afghanistan remains guarded by Russian Frontier Guards, who have intercept heroin in the drug route through Tajikistan, as well as being concerned with clashes between Afghan factions not far from the border. In 2000-2001 more than 100 armed attempts at violating the border were noted (Russia Today 2001). In 2002, this area became one of the main routes to be watched for those seeking to escape Afghanistan, once against making it a front line to a major conflict.

The fulfilment of the accords began with the elections in February 2000 for 'the lower house of the Tajik national parliament and to local representative power bodies' (ITAR/TASS 2000). Although the peace has held, there have been signs of tension in power sharing arrangements: -

Tajikistan is the only country in Central Asia in which an Islamic-oriented political party openly and actively participates in the country's social and political life. Islamic Renaissance Party (IRP) members are represented in the various government institutions through a power-sharing agreement negotiated to end the country's 1992-97 civil war. However, this arrangement, under which opposition forces are entitled to a 30 percent share of government posts, has looked increasingly precarious of late. Some local political analysts say President Imomali Rahmonov has sent signals that he wants to use the specter of Islamist extremism in Central Asia to sideline his mainstream Islamic political opponents. (Igushev & Mannonov 2003)

Reconstruction has begun to take effect through 2002-2003. Economic growth was at 10.2 percent in 2001, in 2002 around 9.1%, with projections for strong growth in 2003 and retention of inflation to a relatively low 7% (Borisov 2003). But this beginning operates from a very low baseline. Prior to this, destruction of cotton cultivation and disruption to aluminium exports (other resources include some gold, silver and tungsten) had caused a plunge in GDP of 32.6% in the period 1991 to 1996 (Borisov 2003). Even now unemployment remains very high, with up to million Tajiks travelling overseas, especially in CIS countries, in search of jobs, and the small country has a foreign debt of about one billion dollars (Borisov 2003). Some of these are illegal labour flows, causing particular tensions with Russia through 2001-2003: -

According to Russian officials, up to 4 million illegal immigrants worked in Russia in 2002. Only about 300,000 guest workers possessed proper documentation. New immigration legislation, which took effect November 1, expanded the powers of law-enforcement authorities to uncover undocumented laborers.

Russia has dealt with Tajik immigrants in a particularly rough manner, frequently carrying out summary deportations. In one instance in November, about 120 Tajiks were packed on to military transport planes and returned to Dushanbe. A few days later, Moscow deported another 80 Tajiks. . . .

Dushanbe's reaction to the deportations is connected in large part to Tajikistan's acute economic dependence on guest worker incomes. According to unofficial estimates, upwards of 800,000 Tajiks earn income illegally in Russia every year, remitting as much as $400 million to relatives back home. The remittances are roughly double the most recent estimate of the state's annual expenditures in 2000, according to the CIA World Factbook 2002. Given that many families depend on guest-worker income, Russia's deportations have emerged as a significant domestic political issue in Tajikistan. (Eurasia Insight 2003)

Other problems remain. Border areas with Uzbekistan are still covered in land-mines which the government cannot accord to remove - through early 2003 the OSCE moved to launch a project to fund the removal of these mines (Zakirova 2003). Likewise, there are still problems integrating former combatants into normal society. Small programs run by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) have begun to 'reintegrate some 550 former combatants, amnestied detainees, displaced persons and unemployed young people back into their communities' (UN OCHA 2003), but much more needs to be done. Overall poverty rates include 80% of the population. Border delimitation talks also continued with Kyrgyzstan through late 2002.

Tajikistan has sought to broaden cooperation beyond UN and INGO agencies. New links are being forged with the EU as well, with President Imomali Rakhmonov meeting 'in Dushanbe on 13 December with visiting EU officials' to expand cooperation beyond 'commerce, investment, and humanitarian aid' into a wider political dialogue (RFE 2002). Strong cooperation with France and the U.S. has also been planned (Eurasia Insight 2003), largely as part of American and European hopes for a stronger stabilisation of Central Asia as a whole.

Tajikistan remains a poor state with enormous wounds to be healed from this conflict. Aside from poor economic development (the most impoverished of CIS states), it remains under a virtual CIS protectorate and has massive problems in its small population, e.g. malnutrition and the re-emerge of tuberculosis (Foley 2001). It relies on overseas aid to develop any level of stability, though there has been some growth in the economy. It remains as a regional warning and indicator of how fragile regional stability had been throughout the 1990s. The full cost of reconstruction (as in Afghanistan) remain to be seen. The next parliamentary elections (2005) and presidential elections (2006) will be tests for the degree of genuine democracy in the country.

5. Blockages to Regional Cooperation

The situations in Chechnya, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and to a lesser extent Uzbekistan represent serious problems for the further development of the entire region of Greater Central Asia. Speaking of the wider implications of the Tajikistan conflict: -

Tajikistan is a country where the whole population has been deprived of its rights . . . and where the widespread crisis in the economy is a productive ground for radicalisation of Islamic and patriotic movements which, when united with a neo-communist system, are becoming a source of destabilisation in Central Asia. The conflict in Tajikistan is the result of Russia's ignoring the distinctive social and political processes of Tajikistan as well as the territorial-political pretensions of Uzbekistan. Both before and after Perestroika the interests of the Tajik people were sacrificed to pro-Uzbek and pro-Communist structures. And so the tragedy of Tajikistan continues . . . (Juraeva 1994, p16)

Both the Afghanistan and Tajikistan conflicts highlight a more general international problem. With the end of the Cold War, the world has seen an increased amount of pressure on existing nation-states by ethnic and regional groups (for these issues generally, see Buzan 1983; Sorenson 1990; Camilleri 1992; Horseman & Marshall 1994). Concepts such as nationalism and 'self-determination' have had a major impact on much of Eastern Europe and Eurasia. Some states have divided peacefully, e.g. the Czech and Slovak republics, some re-united such as Germany, while others have descended into civil war, included former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Tajikistan. Some scholars have argued that the international community should not allow the fragmentation of existing states to continue, and that strict guidelines should be laid down for the recognition of new states. The key idea here is that rather than building states on ethnic lines, that all states should be encouraged to accept democracy and pluralism, i.e. be composed of a number of ethnic or regional groups, all of whom share in power and have recognised rights (see Shehadi 1993). The problem with such a model, however, is that it will need the heavy involvement, financially and often militarily, of other states and the international community to keep many of these artificial states intact. Uzbekistan, for example, seems to be following the traditional path of nation-building, securing economic and military strength, and seeking to ensure its borders through a strong involvement in regional conflicts. Likewise, 'failed' states or states with weak regimes become embroiled in cross-border conflicts, as well as become hosts for extremist groups which they either are unable or choose not to control, e.g. Afghanistan under the Taliban.

Alternatively, we can ask whether there are other ways to mediate between opposing groups in adjacent regions. Another approach says that to safeguard regional or ethnic groups, it is important to have strong supranational organisations which can put pressure on member nation-states to be fair to their minorities. To date organisations such as the European Union and NATO have only to a very small extent fulfilled this role in the Eurasian context, though states such as Georgia might seek such engagement. Further thought needs to given to the issue of regional cooperation to solve these intense and protracted disputes which involve groups in more than one state. To date, recent conflicts and possible future instability in Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Chechnya represent major stumbling blocks to a more peaceful and integrated international environment in Eurasia. Tajikistan, for example, will need careful international support if it is to overcome past legacies. Policies including shared resource access and regional autonomy also need to be further developed. 'Soft Authoritarian' styles of government, common throughout Central Asia, also need careful monitoring if they are to evolve into more truly democratic states.

Ironically, what was once a buffer zone between great powers, remains a zone of relative instability. Likewise, the actions of a small but determined sub-state such as Chechnya indicate that the needs of many national groups will need to be taken into account in order to build a genuinely inclusive Eurasian international system. With the intervention in Afghanistan it is possible that a more stable state within the heart of Central Asia might aid stability in nearby states such as Tajikistan. At present, however, the of Afghanistan government of Hamid Karzai remains a compromise formation that may be in some way more popular with international backers than with key regional power groups within the country (we will examine regional prospects and dynamics in the later sessions). What is clear is that the future of Afghanistan will be have a direct impact on the entire region. Stabilising Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Chechnya are need in order to begin a new and more positive phase for Eurasia as whole.

6. Bibliography and Further Resources

Resources

A useful package of resources on Afghanistan and Chechnya (and other areas needing humanitarian relief) will be found by searching the Relief Web at http://www.reliefweb.int/w/rwb.nsf

A diversified and useful website on Central Asia, the Caucasus, and the Balkans, the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, will be found at http://www.iwpr.net/home_index_new.html

A range of useful, short articles on Tajikistan and its region will be found on Eurasianet at http://www.eurasianet.org/resource/tajikistan/articles/index.shtml

One Chechen view can be found in an interesting Webpage, The Chechen Republic Online at http://www.amina.com/

For a look at images of everyday life Uzbekistan, see the Photo-essay "Central Asia: Daily Life in Mythic Territory: A EurasiaNet Photo Essay" by Raffi Khatchadourian, February 2002, located at http://www.eurasianet.org/departments/culture/articles/eav020802.shtml#

Voluntary Further Reading

Items worth looking at include: -

FEIFER, Gregory "Uzbekistan's Eternal Realities: A Report from Tashkent", World Policy Journal, 19 no. 1, Spring 2002, pp81-89 [Access via Infotrac Database]

GALL, Carlotta & DE WAAL, Thomas et al. Chechnya: Calamity in the Caucasus, N.Y., New University Press, 1998

JONES LUONG, Pauline & WEINTHAL, Erika "New Friends, New Fears in Central Asia", Foreign Affairs, 81 no. 2, Mar/Apr2002 [Access via Ebsco Database]

Khudaiberganov, Nodir "Uzbekistan - The Emergence of a New Nation", Contemporary Review, 273, October 1998, pp187-192 [Internet Access via Infotrac]

KNEZYS, Stasys & SEDLICKAS, Romanas The War in Chechnya, College Station, Texas A & M University Press, 1999

SPECHLER, Martin C. " Hunting for the Central Asian Tiger ", Comparative Economic Studies, 42 no. 3, Fall 2000 [Access via Infotrac Database]

RASHID, Ahmed "The New Struggle in Central Asia: A Primer for the Baffled", World Policy Journal, 17 no. 4, Winter 2000, pp41-43 [Access via Infotrac Database]

RASHID, Ahmed " The Fires of Faith in Central Asia. ",World Policy Journal, 18 no. 1, Spring 2001 [Access via Infotrac Database]

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