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Muslim Brotherhood and the Violence in Kyrgystan

Com­ment: The esca­lat­ing vio­lence in Kyr­gys­tan is occur­ring in areas in which one finds sig­nif­i­cant pres­ence of  a Mus­lim Broth­er­hood affil­i­ate, Hizb ut-Tahrir.

An AP arti­cle sets forth how the eth­nic clash­es in the Kry­gyzs­tan towns of Osh and Jalal-abad are pri­ma­ry between eth­nic Kyr­gyz and eth­nic Uzbek–both groups pri­mar­i­ly sun­ni.  The Uzbek’s are 14% of the pop­u­lace of Kyr­gyzs­tan, although they’re clos­er to 50% of the pop­u­lace in the towns where the vio­lence is tak­ing place.

Both Osh and Jalal-Abad towns reside in the Fer­ghana Val­ley, right in the heart of the hero­ine traf­fick­ing net­works. Krgyzs­tan is also home to a key U.S. base for the war in Afghanistan. And, of course, parts of Cen­tral Asia is also rich in fos­sil fuel resources.

“75,000 Uzbeks Flee Eth­nic Riots in Kry­gys­tan” by Sasha Merku­shev and Yuras Kar­manau [Asso­ci­at­ed Press]; Yahoo.com; 6/13/2010.

Excerpt: Mobs of riot­ers slaugh­tered Uzbeks and burned their homes and busi­ness­es in Kyr­gyzs­tan’s worst eth­nic vio­lence in decades, send­ing more than 75,000 mem­bers of the eth­nic minor­i­ty flee­ing the coun­try in attacks that appeared aimed at under­min­ing the Cen­tral Asian nation’s new inter­im gov­ern­ment.

More than 100 peo­ple were killed in south­ern Kyr­gyzs­tan and more than 1,200 wound­ed in days of attacks, accord­ing to gov­ern­ment esti­mates Sun­day. The true toll may be much high­er.

The Inter­na­tion­al Com­mit­tee of the Red Cross said its del­e­gates wit­nessed about 100 bod­ies being buried in just one ceme­tery, and not­ed that the offi­cial toll is unlike­ly to include bod­ies still lying in the streets.

Fires set by riot­ers raged across Osh, the sec­ond-largest city in Kyr­gyzs­tan, as tri­umphant crowds of eth­nic-major­i­ty Kyr­gyz men took con­trol. Police or mil­i­tary troops were nowhere to be seen in the city of 250,000, where food was scarce after wide­spread loot­ing and the few Uzbeks still left bar­ri­cad­ed them­selves in their neigh­bor­hoods.

The ram­pages spread quick­ly to Jalal-Abad, anoth­er major south­ern city 45 miles (70 kilo­me­ters) from Osh, and its neigh­bor­ing vil­lages, as mobs method­i­cal­ly set Uzbek hous­es, stores and cafes on fire. Riot­ers seized an armored vehi­cle and auto­mat­ic weapons at a local mil­i­tary unit and attacked police sta­tions around the region try­ing to get more firearms.

Some refugees were fired on as they fled to Uzbek­istan. They were most­ly elder­ly peo­ple, women and chil­dren, with younger men stay­ing behind to defend their prop­er­ty.

Many of the more than 75,000 refugees arrived with gun­shot wounds, the Uzbek­istan Emer­gen­cies Min­istry said, accord­ing to Russ­ian reports.

“We saw lots of dead. I saw one guy die after being shot in the chest,” said Ziye­da Akhme­do­va, an Uzbek women in her late 20s at one of sev­er­al camps hasti­ly set up in Uzbek­istan along the bor­der.

She was among the first refugees to reach the bor­der on Fri­day and said the Uzbek bor­der guards were reluc­tant to let them in until an approach­ing Kyr­gyz armored per­son­nel car­ri­er began fir­ing. She had lit­tle hope of return­ing home soon.

“Our hous­es have been burned down. I don’t know how we will live, how we will talk to the peo­ple who shot at us,” Akhme­do­va said.

The Unit­ed States, Rus­sia and the U.N. chief all expressed alarm about the scale of the vio­lence and dis­cussed how to help the refugees. The U.S. and Rus­sia both have mil­i­tary bases in north­ern Kyr­gyzs­tan, away from the riot­ing; Rus­sia sent in an extra bat­tal­ion to pro­tect its air base.

Kyr­gyz res­i­dents inter­viewed by AP Tele­vi­sion News in Osh blamed Uzbeks for start­ing the riot­ing by attack­ing stu­dents and Kyr­gyz women. Eth­nic Kyr­gyz from neigh­bor­ing vil­lages then streamed into the city to strike back, they said.

But Mak­sat Zhein­bekov, the act­ing may­or of Jalal-Abad, told the AP that the true insti­ga­tors were sup­port­ers of oust­ed Pres­i­dent Kur­man­bek Bakiyev who attacked both Uzbeks and Kyr­gyz, the eth­nic major­i­ty, to incite broad­er eth­nic vio­lence.

The inter­im gov­ern­ment, which took over after Bakiyev was oust­ed by a pub­lic revolt in April, has been unable to stop the vio­lence and accused Bakiyev’s fam­i­ly of insti­gat­ing it. Uzbeks have backed the inter­im gov­ern­ment, while many Kyr­gyz in the south have sup­port­ed the top­pled pres­i­dent. . . .

Com­ment: These towns are hotbeds of activ­i­ty by Hizb ut-Tahrir, a Mus­lim Broth­er­hood-affil­i­at­ed orga­ni­za­tion. Just what role that group may be play­ing in the vio­lence is a sub­ject for spec­u­la­tion. Pos­si­ble influ­ence on the Afghan war and hero­in traf­fic is one thing to watch.

“The Long War in Cen­tral Asia: Hizb-ut-Tahrir’s Caliphate” a Mono­graph by MAJ Daniel J. Rud­er [Unit­ed States Army]; School of Advanced Mil­i­tary Stud­ies Unit­ed States Army Com­mand and Gen­er­al Staff College,Fort Leav­en­worth, Kansas; May/2006.

Excerpt: . . . Jalal-Abad and Osh are con­sid­ered Hizb-ut-Tahrir strong­holds, where they have been per­se­cut­ed by the Kyr­gyz gov­ern­ment since the late 1990’s.108 Hizb-ut-Tahrir has only lim­it­ed sup­port out­side this region, and its mem­ber­ship is report­ed­ly com­prised of nine­ty per­cent eth­nic Uzbeks while Kyr­gyz make up only five percent.109 These indi­ca­tors sug­gest that eth­nic­i­ty may have a role in the pop­u­lar­i­ty of Hizb-ut-Tahrir in Kyr­gyzs­tan.

The eth­nic rep­re­sen­ta­tion in Kyrgyzstan’s local insti­tu­tion­al frame­work is imbal­anced, cre­at­ing the con­di­tions for dis­con­tent and pos­si­ble civ­il rights vio­la­tions. Accord­ing to the Orga­ni­za­tion for Secu­ri­ty and Co-Oper­a­tion in Europe, Osh’s Depart­ment of Inte­ri­or is eighty per­cent eth­nic Kyr­gyz and ten per­cent are eth­nic Uzbek. The twen­ty-three provin­cial and city court judges in Osh are all Kyr­gyz, while nine of the ten judges in Jalal Abad province are Kyr­gyz. More­over, Uzbeks hold eleven seats in the Osh City Coun­cil com­pared to nine­teen Kyr­gyz seats. The prosecutor’s Office in Osh fol­lows a sim­i­lar make-up. Since eth­nic Uzbek’s com­prise fifty-two per­cent of Osh’s pop­u­la­tion, sev­en­teen per­cent more than the Kyr­gyz, one would expect to see a pro­por­tion­ate bal­ance of rep­re­sen­ta­tion in these key institutions.110 It is also clear that Uzbeks are aware of this imbal­ance as they have called for greater rep­re­sen­ta­tion in law enforce­ment and judi­cia­ry jobs.111
Eth­nic dis­par­i­ty in gov­ern­ment and judi­cia­ry jobs in the region can gen­er­ate an “us” ver­sus “them” per­cep­tion between eth­nic Kyr­gyz and eth­ic Uzbeks. The issue goes deep­er in terms of safe­guard­ing civ­il and human­i­tar­i­an rights of a minor­i­ty group, espe­cial­ly if the Uzbeks are per­ceived as fill­ing the ranks of the Hizb-ut-Tahrir. The eth­nic imbal­ance in key insti­tu­tion­al posi­tions is a fac­tor for poten­tial insta­bil­i­ty, such as the human rights vio­la­tions at Andi­jan in March 2005. On the oth­er hand, Hizb-ut-Tahrir ide­ol­o­gy teach­es that the Islam­ic state would have a caliph of its leader, who is elect­ed by an assem­bly cho­sen by the peo­ple. . . .

(pp. 34–35.)


One comment for “Muslim Brotherhood and the Violence in Kyrgystan”

  1. Regard­ing your com­ment on the USA hav­ing an air­base in Kyr­gyzs­tan, please review one of the first of the AP arti­cles you include. In it, we learn that Rus­sia also has a mil­i­tary base in Kyr­gyzs­tan, and that they brought in extra mil­i­tary per­son­nel. I read no com­ments about the USA tak­ing such action.

    One key ques­tion I have is about two Islam­ic groups repeat­ed­ly brought up in reports. These are the IMU and HT. Has any­one inves­ti­gat­ed the involve­ment of these groups, and one they share a com­mon “broth­er­hood” with?

    Posted by Paul | June 20, 2010, 7:27 am

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