from 10 Conflicts to Watch in 2013 | Foreign Policy
by Louise Arbour
This region provides a laundry list of countries on the brink. Tajikistan lumbers into 2013 with nothing good to show for 2012. Relations with Uzbekistan continue to deteriorate, and internal domestic disputes threaten to foment separatist ambitions in Gorno-Badakhshan. This mountainous and remote eastern province had little time for the central government in Dushanbe — even before government troops clashed with local fighters, many of them veterans of the Tajik civil war, whom they described as members of an organized crime group. Some of the fighters, including one of their leaders, were members of Tajikistan’s border forces. Additionally a number of residents of Khorog, described at one point as youth who had been misled by anti-government propaganda, also participated. (The area has long been deeply suspicious of the central government).
Kyrgyzstan is no better. It continues to ignore festering ethnic tensions and rule-of-law issues in the south while a long-anticipated ethnic policy languishes unadopted in the office of the president. The central government’s reach in Osh grows progressively weaker, and the international community again seems to have little or no interest in all the early warning signs.
Widespread and systematic human rights abuses, meanwhile, are still the norm in Uzbekistan. To make matters worse, there are no plans for political succession once President Islam Karimov, 74, leaves the stage — a recipe for regional upheaval. Until the United States clears the last of its troops and materiel from Afghanistan, however, the issue is not likely to get much traction in Washington.
If trends continue, Kazakhstan faces another violent year ahead — 2012 saw a record number of terrorist attacks in western and southern parts of the country by previously unidentified jihadist groups. Astana’s attempt to cast itself as a stable ship in a regional sea of unpredictability is undermined by the fact that this is a country where protesters are shot dead and activists jailed. Socioeconomic grievances may yet be the undoing of the Kazakh state.
FULL ARTICLE (Foreign Policy)
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