Books on Uzbekistan
Update No: 313 - (25/01/07)
Death of Niyazov noted in Tashkent- with fear of what the
repercussions will be!
The demise of Saparmurat Niyazov, the tyrant of Turkmenistan, is an unwelcome
reminder of mortality to President Islam Karimov, himself rumoured to have
health problems. Niyazov died of a heart attack, Karimov is said to have, or
have had, cancer.
His northern neighbour's president, Akayev of Kyrgyzstan, bit the bullet in
March 2005 for political reasons; now his south-western neighbour has for
natural ones. All sorts of things could happen as a consequence.
The so-called world policeman, the US, has already carved off more than it can
easily digest in Afghanistan and Iraq. What portends?
The most central of Central Asian states
Turbulence is in the air. Even the very frontiers of these formerly largely
nomadic peoples in Central Asia are in question.
The state with the most interest in biting a chunk out of Kyrgyzstan (and
Tajikistan) is the final Ferghana Valley state, Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan is in
both the best and the worst position in the region. Best in that there are more
Uzbeks than any other Central Asian nationality, and Uzbeks exist in substantial
numbers in every other of the four states, granting Tashkent a useful lever in
dealing with -- or against -- them all.
Uzbekistan also lacks a border with any of the major powers -- Russia, China,
Iran -- that ring Central Asia, so it is relatively insulated from their
geopolitical appetites. At the same time, it is the only state in the world that
borders all four of the other FSU 'stans. Uzbekistan has both the size and
opportunity to deeply impact all of its less-powerful neighbours. Indeed in
Tsarist times the whole of the area of today's 'stans, excepting Kazakstan, was
a military gubernate ruled by a general from the city of Tashkent, the imperial
Russian capital for the region and now capital of Uzbekistan alone. Tashkent
perhaps, has not lost its imperial pretensions.
However, Stalin's cartographic creativity kicked into overdrive when he sketched
out Uzbekistan's borders, so while Tashkent commands the bulk of the Ferghana
valley -- which comprises nearly half of Uzbekistan's population -- Tashkent
lacks the ability to reach it easily. And though bordering none of the major
powers insulates Uzbekistan, it also isolates it; Tashkent has to strike a deal
with at least one neighbour in order to access international markets.
Yet Uzbekistan is changing, too. When colour revolutions appeared to be homing
in on Tashkent, the Uzbek government of Islam Karimov quickly devolved from
arrogance to paranoia. Far from persisting in trying to achieve its previous
goal of becoming a regional hegemon, Uzbekistan is now like a schoolyard bully
who has discovered he is not the biggest boy on the block. Uzbekistan will now
sign nearly any deal with anyone who is willing to commit to helping Karimov
remain in power, no matter how oppressive his culture of fear gets.
Indeed, under Karimov Uzbekistan has become one of history's most oppressive
states. While Turkmenbashi rooted out all opposition, he did so in an almost
whimsical way. Totalitarian, sure, but many people had the option of exile. Not
so in Uzbekistan, where political opponents -- and people who theoretically
might one day join them -- are routinely rounded up, tortured and, if some
reports prove true, boiled alive. In the end, Karimov's strategy has created a
country full of the very sort of hostile, rebellious citizens and regional power
centres that he set out to prevent.
As a result, it is Uzbekistan that will most likely face the most violent
transformation once Karimov is gone. Like Turkmenbashi, Karimov has no clear
heir (his oligarch, music video-making daughter is a non-starter from the point
of view of the country's regional clans), and the profiles of outside powers
have been kept scrupulously low.
Unlike Turkmenbashi, Karimov has created a culture in which violence, torture
and murder are all part and parcel of normal governance. For the past three
years, the country has been a pressure cooker with the lid held on only by
Karimov's oppressive rule. When he breaks, his country is likely to break with
him; the various regional -- and rival -- clans that control what little Karimov
does not control will then use Karimov's tactics to take his spoils.
"China supports Uzbekistan" - report
The development of all-round cooperation with China is one of the most
important priorities of Uzbek foreign policy. Diplomatic relations between
Uzbekistan and China were established 15 years ago in January 1992.
On the eve of the anniversary of this event, the Uzbek embassy in Beijing hosted
a meeting with the heads and leading experts of foreign political analytical
centres of China and representatives of the mass media, (Jahon information
agency reports). The meeting participants appraised the current state of
bilateral relations development and gave recommendations on further
collaboration between the two countries.
Participants of the forum paid special attention to efforts of the Uzbek
government on the preservation and revival of architectural monuments and
development of modern infrastructure of historical cities of the country.
Beijing also hosted a solemn reception with participation of the representatives
of political, public and analytical circles of China, Shanghai Cooperation
Organisation Secretariat, foreign diplomatic corps. "Relations of
friendship and cooperation between the two countries have developed steadily
over15 years. Interaction in different directions is deepening," said Lee
Huei, Assistant to Foreign Minister of China. "Witnessing the positive
development of bilateral interaction, I'm full of confidence that Chinese-Uzbek
ties have a great future," he emphasised.
These events were covered by the leading Chinese mass media, namely Xinhua
information agency, People's Daily Online newspaper and others. People's Daily
Online published an article entitled "Chinese-Uzbek relations: interaction
becoming closer," which is devoted to the 15th anniversary of diplomatic
relations establishment between the two countries. The article notes that China
and Uzbekistan are good neighbours, friends and partners.
The authors of the article say: "China and Uzbekistan support each other in
the political sphere as well. The interaction of our countries is becoming
closer. In particular, the high-level agreements bear an intensive character.
Chinese leader Hu Jintao paid a state visit to Uzbekistan in June 2004. The two
leaders [Islam Karimov and Hu Jintao] signed a declaration on further
development and strengthening of friendly relations, partnership and cooperation
between Uzbekistan and China.
Corresponding departments of the two countries also signed nine documents
stipulating cooperation in such spheres, as healthcare, education and power
engineering. Trade and economic cooperation between Uzbekistan and China
expanded significantly in the past period. In just the first seven months of
2006, the volume of bilateral trade reached US$659 million, which is nearly
62.6% more compared to 2005.
Uzbekistan adopts new law tightening media control
A new law that puts more restrictions on the media in Uzbekistan took effect
on January 14th, as part of an ongoing government campaign against dissent in
the ex-Soviet republic.
The law holds all foreign and domestic media organizations responsible for
"objectivity" of their reporting, prohibits coverage of trials and
criminal investigations without special authorization, and bans foreign
journalists from working in the country without official accreditation.
It also prohibits the promotion of religious extremism, separatism and
fundamentalism, as well as the instigation of ethnic and religious hatred.
Religious issues are highly sensitive in this Central Asian nation, whose
government has drawn international condemnation for its relentless and abusive
campaign against religious dissent under the pretext of fighting Islamic
The legislation, signed into law by Karimov, comes amid a crackdown on dissent
that followed the brutal suppression of an uprising in Andijan in May 2005 that
was extensively covered by foreign reporters.
In March, the Uzbek government introduced new rules that called for fines or
even expulsion for foreign journalists who are found to have interfered in the
country's internal affairs. Authorities have shut down the local offices of the
British Broadcasting Corp., U.S.-funded Radio Freedom/Radio Liberty and several
Western aid groups, including two that worked to promote free media.
Rights groups and witnesses said that more than 700 people, most of them
peaceful demonstrators, were killed by government troops during the crackdown in
Andijan. The government contended the uprising was encouraged by Islamic
extremists, and put the death toll at 187.
Tajikistan sees gas imports from Uzbekistan up 6.5%
Tajikistan is projected to import 650 million cubic metres of natural gas from
Uzbekistan next year, or 6.5 per cent up on the year, a representative of the
Tajik embassy in Uzbekistan said, New Europe has reported.
In previous years Tajikistan has seen its gas imports from Uzbekistan falling to
610 million cubic metres projected for this year from 650 million cubic metres
in 2005 from 720 million cubic metres in 2004.
Tajikistan has a contract with Uzbekistan's Uztransgaz for 750 million cubic
metres this year but is expected to buy only 610 million cubic metres, as many
domestic consumers are not able to pay their bills.
In October, Uztransgaz hiked its natural gas price for Tajikistan's state gas
company Tajikgaz to US$100 per 1,000 cubic metres starting January 1, 2007 from
the current US$55.
Uztransgaz receives only about 40 per cent of payments for gas in cash and
writes off the remainder for the right to transport gas through the territory of
Uztransgaz, a subsidiary of Uzbekistan's state oil and gas company, controls gas
transportation and exports in Uzbekistan.
Uzbekistan electricity production up 3.5% in January-November
Uzbekistan increased electricity production by 3.5 per cent in the first 11
months of the last year to 44.585 billion kilowatt-hours, New Europe reported.
Heat and power plants produced 38.775 billion kilowatt-hours in the period, up
seven percent year-on-year, and hydroelectric and block plants produced 5.81
billion kilowatt-hours, down 15.2 per cent, including 513 million kilowatt-
hours produced by hydroelectric plants, down 19 per cent year-on-year. Uzbek
power stations provided 17.866 million gigacalories of thermal energy to
consumers in January-November, down one per cent. Uzbekistan has 42 power plants
with capacity of 11,580 megawatts.
Aral project declares tender for seismic exploration
The consortium of investors in Uzbekistan's Aral Project have declared a tender
on 2D seismic exploration of Uzbekistan's offshore, transit zone and onshore
portions of the Aral Sea, New Europe has reported.
The tender covers surveying 2,300 running kilometres (including approximately 25
per cent offshore in waters up to 40 metres deep, 25 per cent in the transit
zone and 50 per cent onshore), LUKoil Overseas, one of the consortium members,
said in a press release. Potential bidders had to declare their interest before
January 15th, 2007 in order to receive the tender packet. The consortium
includes Uzbekneftegaz, KNNK Aral Ltd. (a subsidiary of Korean National Oil
Corporation, KNOC), LUKoil Overseas Aral Ltd., Petronas Carigali Overseas (a
subsidiary of Malaysia's Petronas) and CNPC International of China. All five
members have equal stakes. The term of the project's production-sharing
agreement is 35 years. The protocol on the production-sharing agreement in the
oil and gas development is slated for signing between the government and the
consortium in the latter part of January. By that time the charter for the
operating company is to be completed and registered with the Uzbek state bodies.
The beginning of seismic exploration is scheduled for March 2007. The project is
to be implemented in three stages. The first stage, costing roughly US$80
million, involves seismic exploration of a planned 3,000 running metres over two
or three years. In the second stage, costing roughly US$200 million, exploratory
wells are to be drilled into the structures identified. In the third stage,
preparation for development and use of fields will be carried out.