Tuesday 25 October 2011
Dancing with Karimov
Busy weeks in the new Great Game. As it was during the original one, in the 19th century, Uzbekistan is a top prize. Sick and tired of playing with Pakistan, the US now has decided to look again at Afghanistan’s northern neighbour. First, the Senate in Washington decided to lift restrictions on US military assistance to Karimovland. Then Obama called the Uzbek leader to butter him up during the former Soviet country’s 20th Anniversary, and, finally, this week, State secretary Hillary Clinton popped in for a quick visit, with the usual nagging about Human Rights and the usual Karimov promises of (20 years overdue) reforms. It is clear that the US is courting Uzbekistan and, again, Human Rights won’t be an issue. The Examiner.com’s Dwight L. Schwab, Jr. strikes the perfect tone on the situation, have a look.
Tashkent is now contemplating the possible effects of the withdrawal of all foreign military troops from Afghanistan in 2014. A possible rise on regional violence is forecast. Here is a very good view on that, by an expert that believes that Uzbekistan’s geopolitical importance will definitely grow in the next few years. Russia sure is aware of that and is lobbying hard all countries in the region. Kazakhstan is supporting czar Putin’s dream of an Eurasian Union. There were also fireworks with the creation of a free trade zone including Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. As usual, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan decided to wait and see. Certainly they will dance the usual waltz with Washington and Moscow, and possibly Beijing, before deciding their partner for this party.