Books on Uzbekistan
Update No: 333 - (25/09/08)
Central Asia is central to the world
Uzbekistan is in the eye of the storm. The Taleban appear to be closing in on
Kabul, of all things. The West's Afghan war has gone disastrously wrong.
Uzbekistan, with its long frontier with Afghanistan, is deeply involved. It gave
the Americans bases on the frontier. The US broke off relations with it after
the horrible massacre at Andijan in May 2003, losing the bases, now partially
Russia immediately made haste to re-establish ties to its former henchman, the
cornerstone of Central Asia. It has the inestimable advantage of not being a
schoolmarm. It is not going to preach about human rights.
Putin Clinches Deal for Uzbek Pipeline
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on September 15 secured agreement from Uzbekistan
to start building a new gas pipeline to Russia in a deal that bolsters Moscow's
sway over Central Asian energy supplies.
In the wake of Russia's war with Georgia, it also strengthens Moscow's hand with
the European Union, which has been looking to secure energy supplies that bypass
Uzbek President Islam Karimov, after meeting with Putin in Tashkent on that day,
announced that the new pipeline would carry up to 30 billion cubic meters of gas
from Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, boosting Russian imports by 50 percent.
Gazprom will set up a joint venture with Uzbekneftegaz to construct the Uzbek
leg of the pipeline along the existing transit route that begins in Turkmenistan
and runs through Kazakhstan before reaching Russia, the Russian company said in
The four countries adopted a plan in May 2007 to expand that route, and
Uzbekistan, which is sandwiched between Turkmenistan to the south and Kazakhstan
to the north, was the first to move ahead with the plan.
"We are interested in this both in commercial terms and as part of the
responsibilities that we have as Russia's ally," Karimov said, Interfax
The existing transit pipelines in the area, known as the Central Asia-Center and
Central Asia-Urals pipelines, have the capacity for 54 bcm, Karimov said. Putin
said Turkmen and Uzbek export potential was growing.
"We have a common interest in implementing this project," he said of
the effort to expand the pipelines.
Russia, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan plan a separate pipeline that would also
take Turkmen and Kazakh gas north to Russia. That pipeline would transport 20
bcm, and construction is scheduled to start late this year or early next year,
Gazprom said on its web site.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who has been among the strongest European
critics of Russia's military actions in Georgia, on September 21 called for an
end to the "energy stranglehold" of Europe by Russia, in a commentary
on the situation. To diversify away from Russia as an energy supplier would mean
to insist on building the Nabucco pipeline, from Turkey through the Balkans,
which would compete for resources from the same area where Russia is making
With their energy exports, some of the Central Asian nations are making an
effort to balance the geopolitical interests of the West with those of Russia
and another key regional player, China. Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan have not
ruled out a westward route across the Caspian Sea that would bypass Russia,
inevitably through Georgia, the only such corridor available. Kazakhstan,
Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan also entertain plans to send some of their gas
eastward to China.
Russia's deal with Uzbekistan was not specifically planned to send a signal to
the European Union, which issued stern warnings to Russia on Monday over its use
of force in Georgia last month, said Pavel Baev, an energy expert at the
International Peace Research Institute in Oslo. But it does underline the poor
feasibility of the Nabucco pipeline, which has been scrambling for resources, he
By winning Uzbekistan's agreement on the pipeline, Russia wants to show that it
makes most sense as a conduit between Central Asian energy riches and Europe,
said Leonid Grigoryev, president of the Energy and Finance Institute, a Moscow
On Tuesday, Russia also approved a formula that will give Uzbekistan a
"European price" for the gas that it sells to Gazprom, Putin and
Gazprom said. Gazprom has yet to formulate a specific price for gas imports from
Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan. It re-exports the Central Asian gas to Gazprom.
LUKoil, Russia's second-largest oil producer, are carrying out gas production
and exploration projects in Uzbekistan. LUKoil is planning to invest $5 billion
over the next seven years to bring gas production there to 12 bcm, company
president Vagit Alekperov confirmed in Tashkent on Tuesday.
Uzbekistan also agreed to buy weapons from Russia and cooperate on space
But of course all these are plans. They have a purchase on the future.
The Uzbek Princess
Karimov is rumoured to be in bad health. In dictatorships across the globe, the
likely successor is the next of kin.
Gulnara Karimova, the eldest daughter of the Uzbek president, dubbed the
"Uzbek princess," has been appointed as the country's ambassador to
the United Nations in Geneva. Uzbek Foreign Ministry officials have been quoted
as saying Karimova took up the post in September and is currently working in
Geneva. The UN confirmed that Karimova20had been appointed.
The 36-year-old Harvard-educated daughter of President Islam Karimov is an
important political and business figure in Uzbekistan, as well as a singer and
She has reportedly amassed a multimillion-dollar fortune unsurprisingly using
her family connections. Her assets reportedly include bank and investment
holdings in Dubai and Geneva; also a retail complex, nightclubs, and a holiday
resort in her native Uzbekistan. She is the head of the Uzbekistan-based Zeromax
Group, which is involved in the country's mining, gas, and oil industries.
In the past, Karimova has only acknowledged being involved in jewellery design
and a mobile-phone company. She is officially in charge of a number of
humanitarian organizations and promotes art, youth education, and sports.
The "Uzbek princess" made international headlines in 2002 after her
acrimonious divorce with her Afghan-American husband Mansur Maqsudi. A wealthy
businessman in his own right, Maqsudi was granted by a U.S. court, sole custody
of the couple's two children, Karimov’s grandchildren, except that long before
the court hearing, Karimova had taken the children back to Uzbekistan and did
not appear in the U.S. court hearings. Her actions led to a warrant being issued
in the United States for her arrest.
Critics of the Uzbek president, of whom there are a few, say that by appointing
his eldest daughter to a diplomatic post, obviously having the immunity that
goes with it, Karimov is mostly interested in protecting and legitimising his