Books on Uzbekistan
Update No: 334 - (27/10/08)
Statism and autarchy have some advantages
The Uzbek regime will likely weather the economic storm afflicting the world
economy better than most. This is because it is to a large degree insulated from
it by its etatiste and autarchic policies.
It is not always remembered that the Soviet Union, for all its grave faults, did
not experience the 1930s global crisis adversely on its economic growth. It
rather engaged in a massive boom and industrialisation, precisely from following
the same policies.
But of course these policies have their drawbacks – or they would not have
been so universally abandoned. Uzbekistan is still suffering from the downside
What about the disadvantages?
There are paupers galore in Uzbekistan. There are few opportunities for
self-advancement in a tightly buttoned-up state.
One has to kowtow to the authorities in this caricature of a totalitarian state
or one ends up in prison, where the most grisly methods are practised.
Need for a new leadership
Uzbekistan needs a new dispensation. It needs a new leader. Its present one, is
a sinister man, Islam Karimov, responsible for atrocities galore under the old
and the new regime. He is reputed to be at death's door. But this could just be
Nevertheless, one can only hope this is true. This may seem callous; but a lot
is at stake.
The death of a nasty dictator, indeed a crackpot one, in Saparmurat Niyazov of
Turkmenistan in December, 2006, has transformed his country for the better in
the last two years, leading to a milder regime and its burgeoning integration
with the wider world. Uzbekistan sorely needs something similar.
The most central of the 'stans'
Uzbekistan has one great advantage, its central location in its region, Central
Asia. It is also the most populous of the five FSU 'stans' and neighbouring them
This may not be so evident a boon right now with an awful, endless war on next
door in Afghanistan. But an Obama victory in the US could see some new thinking.
It was the Democrats after all who settled the Bosnian conflict in 1995, with
Richard Holbrooke crafting the Dayton Agreement. It is speculated that he might
be Secretary of State in a Obama administration, but even if not, his
appointment as roving ambassador again would be a shrewd move, supposing Obama
Peace in Afghanistan would give a big boost to Uzbekistan too, re-activating
trade and investment across the border. The new regime in Turkmenistan has
proved already positive for Uzbekistan, as commercial ties grow.
The Kazakh-Uzbek axis
But the big one is Kazakhstan among its neighbours. The huge long boom there has
been beneficial for the Uzbeks, who are cooperating on many new projects with
the Kazakhs. There are no reproofs about human rights abuses between the two
Central Asian behemoths.
Presidents Nazarbayev and Karimov rub along all right. They are the only two
Central Asian leaders left, who were the communist bosses of their nations in
late Soviet times.
The global credit crunch may slow down cooperation somewhat. But the multiplier
effects of the Kazakh economic dynamism are still likely to be felt strongly in