Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Abbas Daiyar of Daily Outlook Afghanistan reports that the Uzbeks are behind the attaks in Kunduz

I had missed the report by Abbas Daiyar, reproduced on The Atlantic Community website, that the recent insurgency in Kunduz has been produced by Uzbeks connected to Al Qaeda. The Uzbek involvement in the Afghanistan/ Pakistan war displays the ambiguities of the insurgent movement in the region. The Uzbek insurgents are in a sense created by the repressive practices of Islam Karimov in Uzbekistan. Any form of dissent in that country is branded as “wahhabi Islamism” and dealt with severely. Karimov cannot bear dissent – displayed brutally by the gunning down of hundreds of people in Andijon in 2005. So only the most extreme can survive. What that means is that whoever opposes Karimov has little place to go but to extremists. And who are the dissidents they can link up with? Al Qaeda of course.

This is not to say that they are "moderate"; only that their agendas include removing Karimov, not a major interest of Al Qaeda, whose sights are actually on the Arab world, mainly Egypt and Saudi Arabia; nor of the Taliban who are animated as much by their Pushtun perspective as their conservative view of the world. Also, note that these are not the Uzbeks associated with Dostum, who have long seen themselves as part of Afghanistan. The two kinds of Uzbeks have little interest in each other. So far, we hear of no serious attempts to link up with each other.

We have already noted how complex the situation is for the Uyghurs in Xinjiang. The situation for dissidents in Uzbekistan is analogous in some ways. Daiyar says that the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan has been drawn into the Afghanistan war by the American deal to transport materiel into Afghanistan through the northern route. The result of these developments for the government of Afghanistan and coalition of western nations supporting it, however, is that the opposition continues to be a fragmented body of dissidents who unite when they can but have little common interest in each other's agendas. So there is no single head to be lopped off in this war, but a diverse collectivity of people who for the time being agree to fight the Americans.

Daiyar's report is very helpful and may be revealing one reason for the recently announced enlarged concerns of the American military in Afghanistan. [Click on the title for a link to the Atlantic Community site.]

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