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Conclusions: A Bad Place? An interpretive essay by Jon Cox
         Uzbekistan is a country that is unlike many around the world. It is one of only two double land locked countries, and is also formally a part of the Soviet Union. Uzbekistan also has the frustration of being the neighbor to Middle Eastern countries such as Afghanistan. Uzbekistan is considered to be a probable power in the Central Asia area, and key alliances have allowed it to possibly continue to this goal. Currently they are battling over conflict with government opposition and the treatment of independent Muslims and other religions across their country. The most important causes of this conflict can be seen its past events, the role of the Uzbekistani government and the geography of the region. For this conflict, the consequences are largely for the people of Uzbekistan.

         Back when Uzbekistan was still under Soviet rule the people of Uzbekistan were still mostly the same people that are there today. Currently the only real differences are the members of government, and the fact that this particular region is now a country of its own. In this current situation involving the Uzbekistan government there are problems considered by many with the Uzbekistani government and more specifically, president Islam Karimov’s rule of the country after it was declared independent from the Soviet Union in 1991. Before Karimov’s rule the idea of freedom of religion was more widely accepted under rule of Soviet Presient Mikhail Gorbachev, and the religion of Islam flourished in the area. Post-1991 though, Karimov’s rule has become one where little to no opposition is allowed, and religion is controlled tightly by the state. While Islam is an allowed religion in Uzbekistan, with Karimov himself even saying he is Muslim, independent forms of Islam practiced away from the government are forbidden. As Islam has many different ways that it can be practiced, this caused many throughout the region distress and anger. The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) has waged a campaign of terrorism and violence against Karimov’s regime for his policies related to the religion of Islam through links to al-Qaeda.

         In dealing with these opposing forces Karimov has made some dire consequences in return for not following his law. There have been reports of police discouraging women seeking divorce from abusive husbands, as well torturing “criminals” by beatings, electric shock, temporary suffocation, wrist and ankle hanging, fingernail removal, punctures with sharp objects. There is much concern in the government over opposing forces taking over. This sense of worry has caused the Uzbekistan government to have some of the highest amounts of security of any country in the region. A fair amount of all money brought in to the government goes towards this security towards protecting the government from opposition. According to Karimov he has imprisoned more than 7,000 people that were or potentially were IMU supporters. Victims of this government crackdown have included members of secular opposition, human rights activists, and thousands of devout Muslims and members of Islamist political groups. Karimov has essentially caused those who oppose him to use force as a last chance for change. The Uzbekistan government has s tight control over the media in their country, with only two newspapers that are not government owned, and even those require article approval from the Committee for the Control of State Secrets. And even though most of Uzbekistan lacks Internet access, the Uzbek government still placed restrictions on its use and aimed to get all Internet service running through government servers in 2000 to allow for the government to monitor citizens and filter out “unacceptable content.” Under such high security the Uzbekistan government obviously does not want to be taken out of command, and the result of this has come to people dead and many human rights violations against his people.

         The conflict over how the government is run in Uzbekistan can also be partly attributed to conflicts over resources, and the overall geography of the country. Uzbekistan has fair amounts of oil and gas in their region, but for the most part is lacks water. Nations such as the gas and oil poor, but water rich Kyrgyzstan mostly control this water, forcing Uzbekistan to trade items such as cotton and gas for water. In 1997 Uzbekistan tried to deal with the situation unilaterally by cutting off 70 percent of the flow downstream, which prompted a riot by Krygz farmers and caused Uzbekistan to deploy 130,000 troops to guard the reservoirs on the boarder. While not directly relating to the Uzbekistan conflict, the conduct the Uzbekistan has for other countries certainly do affect it. The resources of the region have made situations tense with other countries, and Uzbekistan has many opposition groups in neighboring countries such as Afghanistan. With these groups based there it makes dealing with resource issues that much more difficult. The location of Uzbekistan near neighboring Afghanistan has also allowed for them to receive more financial aid from the United States in return for housing troops in their country. This money has been said to contribute to increased security for the country, and thus contributes to the problem Uzbekistan has with trying to protect itself from the threats of terrorism against it. This increased security has also caused problems for their neighbors. As stated before, when Uzbekistan cut off Kyrgystan’s water it caused them to deploy around 130,000 troops. These troops are supported by the government, and by showing these other countries that they deal with such issues through force it only helps to create more opposition. In dealing with resource issues Uzbekistan has the power to deal with it in its own ways, but as it has always been thought to become the leader of Central Asia, and creating opposition and solving matters through force only separates them from the rest of the region. The consequence of such a separation affects all citizens of Uzbekistan through matters of trade and travel.

         With the receiving of financial aid from countries such as the United States, as well as other countries around the world Uzbekistan is able to further fund its security efforts within itself. Uzbekistan houses an almost paranoid idea of security, and takes no chances to let anyone else take charge of the country. Recently Uzbekistan allowed for U.S. troops to be stationed in their country in war on terror in Afghanistan. This has allowed Uzbekistan to get triple their normal aid from the U.S., totaling some $160 million per year. This stationing of troops has also allowed local merchants, including carpenters who wanted to build a bathhouse on the U.S. complex and prostitutes hoping to relieve the troops of some of their money. This money mostly goes to training and equipping Uzbek law enforcement and border security forces trying to stop the flow illegal drugs, nuclear material and other smuggled goods across Uzbekistan territory, but Uzbekistan still has a mostly poor economic showing. In a poll taken by a public center in Tashkent in 2002 it is said that 80% of Uzbeks have trouble making ends meet. Uzbekistan is mostly responsible for their people, and when such money is spent on security you have to wonder if what it is protecting is worth it. While the people of Uzbekistan suffer and grow angry with oppression of religion and the overall leadership of the country, money is spent to help protect the Uzbekistan government from any harm. The spending of money in Uzbekistan can be seen as a factor in many problems against the government, and defiantly an issue for many citizens. The consequence of course for the citizens is the way they live their lives, and lost time from their productivity.

         The country of Uzbekistan has had its fair share of history put behind them since their independence in 1991, and this history has guided them to their current place in the world order. For most Uzbekistani citizens this conflict has been something that has interrupted their lives, disrupted their religious practices, and in some cases even injured or killed them. This conflict in Uzbekistan was created by a government that has made changes and acted in such ways that it has begun to affect its citizens. Opposition has grown in Uzbekistan, and those who are affected by its power, are affected deeply. Eventually the opposition may take claim of Uzbekistan just as Islam Karimov did during his time, but if Uzbekistan has any hope of keeping its citizens content; changes are needed to prevent further consequence.