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UZBEKISTAN


 

 

In-depth Business Intelligence

Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
Millions of US $ 9,949 9,713 11,300 91
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 420 450 550 173
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (date from the World Bank)

Books on Uzbekistan

REPUBLICAN REFERENCE

Area (sq.km) 
447,400 

Population 
26,410,416

Principal 
ethnic groups 
Uzbeks 71.4%
Russians 8.3%
Tajiks 4.7%
Kazaks 4.1%

Capital 
Tashkent 

Currency 
Uzbek Sum

President 
Islam Karimov


Update No: 294- (28/06/05)

Karimov the 'moderate'; extirpation of 'extremists'
Things are remaining sinister in Uzbekistan. President Islam Karimov is a dictator who picked up a trick or two from Saddam Hussein. He believes in terror and terror and terror, relentlessly re-applied. In his torture chambers, as in Saddam's, relatives and work colleagues are roped in and obliged, under gun-point to observe what goes on. If it is decided to kill someone, the relatives at rifle-point are assigned to the job as the execution squad.
A torture chamber society no less!
But he is likely to survive - because he has Washington as his ally, not his foe. Saddam in Iraq had the unusual distinction of the backing of both sides in the Cold War - and then the effective support of the bien-pensant intellegentsia afterwards, however aggressive he became. Karimov had the support of Washington and Moscow in the campaign against terrorism; but the former is now flaking away, alarmed at what has happened. In fact this is true of the State Department but not of the Pentagon. Washington does not speak with one voice on this and currently that of Donald Rumsfeld is in this ascendant.

The aftermath of May
The details of the violent unrest simmering in Uzbekistan in May are unclear. But more than enough information has emerged now to show Karimov is determined to retain power, by whatever means necessary. By permitting his troops to open fire on demonstrators in the eastern city of Andizhan, Karimov has become the first leader of a former Soviet republic in recent years to suppress public protests with such ruthless use of lethal force. Human rights activists estimate that 500 or more people may have been killed in the violence that erupted on May 13th when anti-government rebels stormed the town's jail and freed prisoners.
Those deaths show the authoritarian leader has no intention of becoming the latest victim of the political protests that have swept the former Soviet Union in the last 18 months. Eduard Shevardnadze of Georgia, Leonid Kuchma of Ukraine and Askar Akayev of Kyrgyzstan all lost power after deciding not to deploy troops against demonstrators.
For Karimov, the ousting of Akayev in March was particularly ominous as it proved a pattern of protests developed in Europe could spread to the less sophisticated Central Asian nations. He accused the Andizhan rebels of wanting to repeat the Kyrgyz revolt. He blamed Islamist militants for stirring up trouble and vowed to defend Uzbekistan's "secular path of development."

The long haul
Karimov has long experience of ruling Uzbekistan, the most populous country in central Asia with 26m people. Like most other ex-Soviet central Asian leaders, he came to power as the regional Communist party chief before the USSR's collapse. Unlike Akayev and President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakstan, who both allowed limited economic and political freedom, Karimov has preserved a strong state backed by a ruthless secret service, the SNB.
With the secular opposition suppressed, Tashkent's main concern has long been Islamism, which is more active in the large and settled population of Uzbekistan than elsewhere in ex-Soviet Central Asia where large proportions of this population are itinerant herdsmen. Even in Soviet times, Uzbeks were considerably more religious than their neighbours. Today some politically active Muslims simply refuse to cooperate with the authorities. Others support the non-violent Hizb-ut-Tahrir, a banned extremist group that wants an Islamic state, and a few back the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, a group allied to al-Qaeda. Which in fact targets all the FSU states in Central Asia
The IMU, which had bases in Afghanistan, suffered heavy losses in the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001-2002, but splinter groups have since returned to Uzbekistan.
The Islamists have been particularly active in Andizhan and other towns in the Ferghana valley, a frontier territory shared with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
For Karimov the Islamist presence is both a security threat and a political blessing. By playing up the threat, he has allied himself with Russia and the US in the global anti-terrorism war. Washington, which has an air base in Uzbekistan, has given considerable economic aid. Yevgeny Kozhokin, director of the Moscow-based Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, says: "The fall of Karimov is not in the interests of Russia, the US or Europe. If the Uzbek regime fails, it is likely that another Islamic republic will appear."
However, Karimov's reluctance to liberalise his country has kept the economy in shackles, with severe restrictions on trade, investment and access to foreign currency.
Marta Brill Olcott, a central Asia specialist at the Carnegie Endowment for International peace, the US think-tank, says poverty, not religion, is at the root of the recent unrest.
James Nixey, an analyst at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, says Karimov can probably survive the current unrest, especially as there are no elections until a presidential poll in 2007. Ms Olcott says economic dissatisfaction is widespread, so events in Andizhan could be repeated elsewhere. She says Mr Karimov can probably suppress unrest "in one, two or even three cities. But he won't be able to do so in 10 cities simultaneously."
A debate is developing in Uzbekistan over the impact of the Kyrgyz revolution on domestic Uzbek developments. There is no disputing that the Askar Akayev's ouster in Bishkek has been a hot topic of conversation among Uzbeks. In addition, Ozod Dekhkonlar supporters and other anti-government activists have expressed hope that Kyrgyzstan's experience will serve as a catalyst for a broad popular effort to force Uzbek President Islam Karimov to step down. However, some Uzbek political analysts contend that recent disturbances in Uzbekistan have only a limited connection to Kyrgyz developments. 

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FOREIGN COOPERATION

China, Uzbekistan sign cooperation treaty

A treaty on friendship, cooperation and partnership between China and Uzbekistan was signed in Beijing on May 26th during a state visit by Uzbek President, Isla Karimov, a source in the Uzbek presidential office said, Interfax News Agency reported.
China and Uzbekistan also signed about a dozen cooperation documents. The source said that Karimov and Chinese president, Hu Jintao, discussed bilateral relations, regional and international problems.
"The interlocutors focused on cooperation in oil, gas, tourism, education, high technologies, transport and the textile industry," the source said. Bilateral trade increased by nearly 70% to almost 600m Euro last year.

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