Dec 02, 2023
Dec 02, 2023
The countries of Central Asia are tinder-boxes primed for explosions. Turkmenistan is ruled by an egotistic maniac who has changed the names of the calendar months and named them after himself and his family members. He calls himself the father of the Turks and rules despotically using repression and torture. The landlocked country has moderate amounts of gas reserves, but no channel to sell them to any market. It abuts Iran which has built a rail line to Ashkabad, but it has no industrial base to export anything. The country is poor and repression will lead to the predictable resistance that will seek refuge and succor in mosques, the only outlet that cannot be completely suppressed where the population is Islamic. Saudi Wahabi and Iranian Shiite influences will use the fertile ground favored by sect and proximity respectively.
Uzbekistan is another landlocked country awaiting conflagration. Its tyrant ruler is known to torture dissidents by boiling them alive. A British diplomat was recalled and sort of fired for protesting human rights violations. So much for the hypocrisy of human rights loudly proclaimed by the West. The recent killings in Andijan led to a mild American rebuke. The despot earlier stopped night flights from the American base at Khanabad and more recently asked the Americans to vacate the base in six months. China and Russia, in knee jerk fashion sided with him, revealing their hypocrisy and confirming that national policies are short-sighted, convenient and devoid of any moral or humanitarian basis. The artificial boundaries created by colonial overlords has left the country with Tajik minorities and the seeds of fissiparous tendencies. A prior radical group, the Islamic movement of Uzbekistan was supported by the Taliban government of Afghanistan and though attenuated by state brutality, still has glowing embers of support. If Afghanistan unravels as it seems to be doing, there will be a strong resurgence of radical Islam as the only surviving counter-force to tyrannical oppression.
Kyrgyzstan just underwent a coup in which the ruling despot fled and was given asylum by Russia . The coup was instigated by NGOs financed by American aid. India should take notice. The newly elected leader has unwisely chosen to follow an independent foreign policy today. This is like Lichtenstein, Luxemburg or Monaco declaring an independent foreign policy. The country is adjacent to the Xinjiang region of China with dissident Muslim Uighurs and it is unlikely that China would tolerate resurgent radical Islam or American military bases and interference over the long run. The current Kyrgyz leader does not understand that geography is history. America constantly and relentlessly tries to topple Castro's Cuban government and China and the former overlord Russia will try to do the same. Add to this the Islamic radicalism simmering under the surface and we have another catastrophe waiting to happen.
Tajikistan is just recovering from a civil war involving radical Islamic extremists a decade ago. It is a poor country with no energy resources and like its neighbors derives a significant portion of its GDP from narcotics or the transport thereof. Though Sunni, its language is Persian based, unlike the previously mentioned Turkic states. It and the Tajik Northern Alliance have and continue to receive financial and military assistance from Iran and India .
When Afghanistan explodes, it is likely to lead to a slow but definite chain reaction in Turkmenistan , Tajikistan and Uzbekistan , which are immediately contiguous and engulf Kyrgyzstan as well. The implacable American hostility to Iran is likely to engender such policies in Iran . If America is foolish enough to mount an attack against Iranian nuclear facilities, Iran will be even more radicalized and it will expedite the process.
The failure of the Kurdish, Sunni and Shiite factions of Iraq to come up with a constitution and the aspirations of the Kurd and Shiites conflicting with the ambitions and prior hegemony of the Iraqi Sunnis, will lead to a trifurcation of Iraq and the autonomous Kurdish region will cause instability in the Kurdish regions of Turkey , Syria and Iran . The Iraqi Sunnis in the middle, already supported in their insurgency by Syrian, Jordanian and Saudi manpower, money and sympathies are likely to become the Sunni wedge in the heart of a Shiite confederacy encompassing Southern Iraq, Iran and Western Afghanistan including Herat and the Hazara region.
The adventurism of the current American administration with the equally short-sighted machinations of Russia , China , Iran , India and Pakistan paint a dismal future for all of Central Asia from eastern Turkey to western China . So-called peaceful Islamic extremists with a dream of a Caliphate and a Sharia code of justice are already popular in many of the Central Asian Republics and the indiscriminate retaliatory violence by the American occupation forces in Afghanistan will further fuel the fires of radical Islam in Afghanistan with the active fanning of Pakistan and its obsession with strategic depth. These will then carry the conflagration further east and north to the detriment of the neighborhood and the world. The training of radicals in these sanctuaries will lead to further terrorism by sleeper cells in Europe with its large disenchanted and discriminated Muslim minorities, lacking adequate education and marketable skills to meld successfully into the advanced western economies. This is what Bush and Blair have wrought in their delusions and lack of intelligence, foresight and planning. Thus a conspiracy of a fool and a knave can wreak havoc on the poor and the innocents, just as much as the cruelty and power lust of a Saddam.
More by : Gaurang Bhatt, MD