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Islamist Elements Behind Violence, Kyrgystan Government Says

Comment: As noted previously, the towns of Osh and Jalal-Abad in Kyrgystan, in addition to being flashpoints of lethal Uzbek/Kyrgyz ethnic tensions, are epicenters of activity for Hizb Ut-Tahrir, a Muslim Brotherhood affiliate.

The government of Kyrgyzstan is now claiming that Islamist elements, conspiring with the family of the deposed leader, precipitated the violence. In FTR #710, we viewed plans at an apparently U.S.-supported conference Georgia conference in December of 2009, intended on promoting Islamist activity in the Caucasus.

Is the central Asian violence, allegedly Islamist in origin, connected to this, and to attempts by Western oil-connected areas to tease the Caucasus and its fossil fuel resources away from Russia?

Significant, also, is the area’s important supply point for NATO forces in Afghanistan, as well as an important transshipment point for heroin coming from that country.

“Kyrgystan Says Islamist Groups Sparked Violence” by Leila Salayeva [AP]; google.com; 6/25/2010.

Kyrgyzstan’s security agency claimed Thursday that relatives of the toppled president colluded with the Taliban and other Islamic militant movements to provoke the ethnic violence that has destabilized the Central Asian nation.

The agency provided no evidence and there was no way of independently confirming the claim, which added to a series of allegations and counter-allegations about the cause of the violence issued by rival groups in Kyrgyzstan.

The security agency said two of former President Kurmanbek Bakiyev’s relatives met last month in Afghanistan with representatives of the Taliban, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and Tajik militants to discuss plans to trigger unrest in Kyrgyzstan.

At the meeting in the Badakhshan region, they agreed that IMU forces would stir up violence and would be paid $30 million by the Bakiyevs, the agency statement said.

The UN said this month’s ethnic riots were deliberately set off by organized groups of gunmen in ski masks, but has not named the suspected instigator.

Since the 1991 Soviet collapse the densely populated, impoverished and conservative Fergana Valley that Kyrgyzstan shares with Tajikistan and Uzbekistan has become a breeding ground for fundamentalist Islamic groups, including the al Qaida-linked IMU.

In 1999-2001, IMU fighters made several incursions into Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. The IMU, which had training camps in Afghanistan, was believed to have been set back during U.S.-led operations in Afghanistan, but there have been signs of renewed activity in Central Asia.

The security agency also implied that some ethnic Uzbek leaders in Kyrgyzstan helped fuel the unrest by their demands for greater rights and autonomy.

One of Bakiyev’s brothers was believed to have been in Tajikistan along the mountainous border with Afghanistan.

The security agency also said that Bakiyev’s 33-year-old son Maxim, a wealthy businessman, held a separate meeting with IMU representatives in Dubai in April. Maxim Bakiyev, who is wanted in Kyrgyzstan on fraud charges, has sought asylum in Britain, saying the new government has tried to blame him for the violence.

Kurman Bakiyev was driven from power following deadly street protests on April 7 fed by anger over corruption in his inner circle. Now in self-imposed exile in Belarus, he has denied the new interim government’s allegations that he instigated the ethnic rioting, which killed about 2,000 people and left 400,000 ethnic Uzbeks homeless.

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