Central Asia: Iranians Come Bearing Ethnic And Religious Hatreds


January 15, 2011: Islamic radicals are having a major problem recruiting in Central Asia. The region is Moslem, but there is no tradition of Islamic radicalism. In Tajikistan, for example, this has led to arresting bearded men, or at least making sure their ID card pictures included the beard. Centuries of Russian domination have made Islamic lifestyle alien to Central Asian peoples and forced Islamic groups to stress unemployment and economic issues as a primary recruiting tool. Madrassas (religious schools) are key recruiting sources in most of the Islamic world, but in Central Asia, there are few of these schools and they are closely watched by police.  Tajikistan believes Islamic radicals are supporting themselves by aiding drug smugglers (moving heroin and other drugs out of Afghanistan). The presence of Tajik, Uzbek, and Kyrgyz minorities in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan is also a continuing source of disorder, and sometimes a recruiting opportunity for Islamic radicals.

One exceptions is the Fergana Valley. This area is one of the most agriculturally productive, and densely populated, in the region. Portions of the valley are shared by Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan, and has long been an incubator of Islamic radicals, and ethnic disputes. Many of the Islamic radicals in the valley and Tajikistan are from the IMU (Islamic Union of Uzbekistan), which has been active since 1991, mainly in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

January 14, 2011: Tajikistan has paid for Chinese economic, and other aid, by settling a 130 year old border dispute with China. This involves a thousand kilometer long border, along which Tajik has surrendered 143,000 square kilometers (55,000 square miles). This is .78 percent of Tajikistan's territory. While many Tajiks are unhappy with this, most see friendship with, and economic benefits from, their huge neighbor to be worth it.

Iran has been aiding (openly and covertly) the Shia minority (about ten percent) in Tajikistan. Shia missionaries have also converted many Sunni Tajiks. This causes more violence with Sunni Islamic radicals, who consider Shia heretics. The Shia consider the Sunnis misguided and in need of Shia leadership. Iran is also exploiting the fact that Tajiks and Iranians are both Indo-European peoples, and have long been in conflict with Turkic groups like the Uzbeks, and Kyrgyz.

January 7, 2011: Some ten kilometers from Kyrgyzstan's capital, police killed two and captured one Islamic terrorists. One policemen died. These Islamic radicals were believed responsible for earlier attacks on police and working with the Islamic Union of Uzbekistan to carry out terror attacks.

January 4, 2011: In Kyrgyzstan's capital, a group of Islamic terrorists killed three policemen. In Tajikistan, police killed eight Islamic terrorists, believed part of a group that killed 25 soldiers last September. Both that ambush and today's operation took place east of the capital in the Rasht Valley

December 24, 2010:  In Kyrgyzstan, police found and disarmed a car bomb parked near a police headquarters in the capital.

December 17, 2010: Two months after national elections, the three of the five victorious parties agreed to a coalition deal and formed a government.


Article Archive

Central Asia: Current 2012 2011 2010 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 



Help Keep Us From Drying Up

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling.

Each month we count on your contribute. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage.
Subscribe   contribute   Close