Books on Uzbekistan
Update No: 303- (27/03/06)
The Uzbek regime is an embattled one, seeing enemies
everywhere, a trait which tends to multiply what it most fears, Islamic
extremism. In this it rather resembles the US in Iraq, ostensibly to squash an
alliance of Iraqis and al-Qaeda, in fact creating it. Unleashing extremism and
civil war is the real price to pay for exporting democracy 'neo-conservatively',
it would appear
There is little alternative for an oppositionist in Uzbekistan but to join the
ranks of the Muslim fundamentalists, whose ranks are swelling along with the
persecution of them. It can be said that in a cynical way the regime needs them
to justify its repression of all, covering up its corrupt practices. Be that as
it may, it is becoming more repressive by stealth, now that the Americans have
been dispatched (They have left the base at Khanabad that they were extended
after 9:11 for operations in Afghanistan).
It fears the internet, indeed every development of the modern Western world. It
is literally a reactionary state, as was the Tsarist state and the Soviet one
There is no more important watchword for the regime than - SECURITY.
Uzbek National Security Council discuss situation in Central Asia
The National Security Council under President of Uzbekistan held its latest
session on 16 March. The Uzbek President and chairman of council Islam Karimov
chaired the session.
The session exchanged opinions on the situation in Central Asia and around it.
It also considered the issues of fighting modern threats and challenges to the
security of the country, including in the information sphere (code phrase for
the world-wide web, which is not to be so wide as to entangle Uzbekistan). The
meeting discussed accession of Uzbekistan to the Eurasian Economic Community.
The session determined the tasks of state bodies on ensuring stability and
security in Uzbekistan. These are kept secret as a matter of course. But it is
not difficult to envisage their nature.
Prominent Uzbek dissident imam Obidkhon qori Nazarov tells his story after 8
years in hiding
It is worth taking a look at the situation from the opposition's point of
view. An intriguing perspective can be provided by the career of a prominent
Uzbek dissident imam, recognized as a refugee by the United Nations, Obidkhon
qori Nazarov. In mid-March he flew to a European country from Kazakhstan, where
he has lived in hiding for the past six years.
The UN refugee agency gave Nazarov refugee status in January, and officials of
the agency saw him and his family off at Almaty's airport on March 15th, the
Ides of March, not, it may be hoped, an ill omen. He asked that their
destination in Europe not be named for security reasons.
Nazarov, 47, became one of the most popular imams in the Soviet republic of 25
million in a period of relative liberty during Soviet President Mikhail
Gorbachev's perestroika reforms and several years before the 1991 Soviet
collapse that gave Uzbekistan independence.
Prayer services led by Nazarov in Tashkent drew thousands of believers, and his
taped sermons were sold across Central Asia. Asked what made him different from
other imams, Nazarov said they didn't want "to harm themselves and anger
But independence had a baleful effect for him and his like. Karimov has ruled
the ex-Soviet republic for the past 17 years with an iron fist, launching a
relentless crackdown on Muslims who practice Islam outside state-controlled
institutions. According to human rights groups, Karimov's government has jailed
more than 6,000 innocent believers for alleged extremism.
Nazarov said that like all clergy, during the Soviet period he had to have
regular meetings with KGB officers. That continued after independence, "but
I told them that times were different and I didn't want to carry out their
orders. They wanted to rule using communist methods, they knew no other
way," said Nazarov, a thin man with a neat beard, wearing a white shirt and
a black suit.
Nazarov said he wanted to choose the subject of his sermons independently. He
spoke against government restrictions on women attending mosques, and on wearing
beards and hijabs, or headscarves.
He denied government accusations that he was linked to the Islamic Movement of
Uzbekistan - a militant group which aims to create an Islamic state and is
blamed for several terror attacks.
"I had no contacts with the IMU," he said. "They wanted me to
publicly criticize them, but I didn't because I wanted the freedom to speak
about everything, otherwise there would have been no use."
Nazarov said that the rise of radical Islamic groups in Uzbekistan was the
result of Karimov's repressive policies. "He is not letting people express
themselves, to realize their talent and energy. Such policy can only bring
bitter fruit," he said.
The official Muslim Spiritual Board dismissed Nazarov as an imam in 1996 and he
was put under surveillance. His brief detention without any charges in 1997
triggered public protests.
Nazarov's whereabouts had been secret since his disappearance in Uzbekistan's
capital, Tashkent, in 1998. He has been wanted since then by Uzbek authorities
for alleged religious extremism and terrorism - charges that he denies.
After Nazarov's disappearance in 1998 under threat of re-arrest, authorities
jailed his two assistants, three brothers and driver for alleged extremism. His
wife was also jailed, but released under international pressure. His eldest son,
Khusnutdin, disappeared in Tashkent in May 2004.
Nazarov said he decided to turn to the UN for protection after nine of his Uzbek
followers were secretly arrested by Kazak authorities and sent to Uzbekistan,
where they were held by police.
Nazarov said one of them phoned him when his house was raided at night by Kazak
" 'We are surrounded, we are on the roof, they are armed and have dogs,' he
told me. I still cannot forgive myself for not finding the words to say, for not
knowing how to help," Nazarov said.
Nazarov told The Associated Press in his first media interview in eight years
that he intended to continue theological studies and write on religion while he
is in Europe.
No more loans to Uzbekistan from the World Bank
One thing that one can be sure of is that cases such as Nazarov's are
brought to the attention of the new head of the World Bank, the prominent neo-conservaive,
Paul Wolfovitz, as it so happens. It is not difficult to imagine his reaction to
the above story. It may not be possible to export democracy to Uzbekistan; but
one can at least deprive dictators of credit from the West.
Martin Reiser of the WB office in Uzbekistan told Reuters on the Ides of March
that there would be no more loans given to Tashkent. This time, it may be hoped,
the date is ominous for somebody.
Wolfovitz of the World Bank has pledged to fight corruption and make the war on
it one of the WB priorities. The World Bank has already suspended some major
loans to several African countries.
Reiser said that the decision with regard to Uzbekistan was made within the
framework of the bank's strategy but did not ascribe it to corruption as such.
"The WB wants to make sure that its money is being used in the projects
that are really important," he said. "We are not convinced that
Uzbekistan can guarantee it, the situation being what it is."
The World Bank loaned Uzbekistan a sum total of nearly US$600 million between
1996 and now. The Uzbek authorities may continue counting on technical aid
Uzbekneftegaz, Stroitransgaz to build LNG plant
Uzbek national holding company, Uzbekneftegaz and Russia's Stroitransgaz plan to
set up a joint venture in 2006 to carry out a project to produce liquefied
natural gas at the Mubarek Gas Processing Plant in Uzbekistan's Kashkadarya
region, at a total cost of about 200m Euro, Interfax News Agency reported.
According to a source in Uzbekneftegaz, the sides may sign the founding
agreement for the joint venture in the near future. The sides plan to build a
liquefied natural gas unit with a capacity of 36,000 tonnes of LNG
(propane-butane mix) and 150 tonnes of gasoline (stable gas gasoline) per year.
The unit will process 12 billion cubic metres of gas per year.
The source said that Stroitransgaz has already prepared an expanded feasibility
study for the project, which is currently being agreed by ministries and
departments in Uzbekistan.
Direct foreign investment increases 67% in 2005
Direct foreign investment in the Uzbek economy stood at around 545 million Euro
in 2005, up 67 per cent from 2004, Deputy Foreign Economic Relations, Investment
and trade Minster, Sabir Khasanov, said at an investment forum on February 3rd
in Tashkent, reported Interfax News Agency.
Uzbekistan plans to implement 134 investment projects for a total of 918 million
Euro in 2006 under its investment programme. Uzbekistan expects to attract
365.41 million Euro in foreign loans guaranteed by the government and 552.56
million Euro in direct foreign investment. The fuel and energy sector is
expected to see the largest amount of foreign investment.