All of these pressing issues may very well be solved in a way that would disastrously impact the country, already after the death of the politician, during whose rule they were laid down.
There are politicians that are remembered for what they did. In the case of the president of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov, who passed away yesterday (according to the unofficial version a few days ago) it is the opposite: even those who mourn him, in terms of his achievements, remember only the things that did not happen in Uzbekistan.
As we are told, there has not yet been a full-scale civil war in the country and the islamists have not come to power. Despite the surge in nationalism, which occurred in the Fergana valley toward the end of 1980’s early 1990’s, Uzbekistan has avoided a complete expulsion of the non-titular population, even though many observers cautiously waited for this to happen.
Briefly, there have not been any striking calamities, just the regular villainy of periphery capitalism and autocracy decorated by a near-to-complete absence of ideology aside from a moderately cautious bureaucratic nationalism.
Nevertheless, such an image would lose its rosiness if one were to look closely at the results and evaluate the possible consequences of ‘peaceful governance’, in order to understand the price that may be paid for it.
Yes, the islamic movement is suppressed in the country; however, as a result of preventive cleansings no organised adherents of any other political ideas remain in Uzbekistan. Besides, there is, basically, an absence of public politicians that would express any coherent political position in this Central Asian state. Even ministers and provincial heads are practically unknown to the majority of its population.
It is known that the secret behind the spread of islamism in middle-eastern countries to a large extent lies within the large-scale financial injections on the part of Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar; in some cases from the USA or France. Fergana valley, suffering from overpopulation and poverty, remains an ideal ground for the spread of islamist ideology, and, if local islamists were to receive large-scale support from outside, the country’s leadership may only be able to oppose this with its army, police and the SNB (Uzbekistan’s National Security Service), whose leadership is neither too difficult to outbid nor to win over. And who can be assured that Karimov’s successor will not start an islamisation in order to get closer to the oil monarchies; will islamism arrive in the country on its own after Islam?
Let’s take a look at the other achievements of this regime. Large-scale construction of railways? If we were to observe the foreign policy position of the country as something that is present once and for all, then yes, the uniting of railway sectors, previously divided by the neighbours, into a single network seems to be quite useful. However, if we were to look at the railway construction by Uzbekistan and its neighbours altogether, then we would see a reverse trend. Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and even the penniless Tajikistan, which recently inaugurated a railway link between Dushanbe and the country’s south, are obliged to invest money in the construction of railway sections, duplicating the lines built in soviet times, like the cowboys from that anecdote, who spent their own money to eat shit.
What are the advantages of maneuvering between the centres of power, endlessly zigzagging between the US, Russia, EU and Turkey? Basically, this is a logical policy for a relatively weak country, but, then again, if one player would decide to change this rickety balance in his favour, it would be fraught with collapse. Moreover, such a collapse will be much bloodier than the Ukrainian one.
Uzbekistan behaved exclusively from a position of strength with its weaker neighbours. And instead of becoming the centre for the integration of the region, surrounded itself with enemies. Furthermore, the reasons for these conflicts were purely economic. The murder and expulsion of the Uzbek population from Osh in Kyrgyzstan, at the very border of the country, was met with olympian serenity on behalf of Uzbekistan, without even demanding the presence of peacekeepers.
Tashkent’s civilised appearance, which is even praised by the supporters of the late president, is a mirror reflection of the poverty, underdevelopment and backwardness of the periphery regions. Yes, the integration of rural and provincial population, which is moving to the capital, is not an easy task. But a solution to implement harsher policing, which made internal migration practically impossible, has done nothing more than fossilize the problems of the province; in the future, this may aid the reactionary religious-nationalist ideologies, which will have a receive to incite provincials against the residents of Tashkent, a city that remains multi-ethnic.
The construction of new factories? True, Uzbekistan has even retained its own automobile industry; however, in a country, where about half of the population is involved in agriculture, two agricultural machinery factories are irretrievably lost, the tractor plant is dragging out a miserable existence, whereas the aircraft industry is not even worth being mentioned.
All of these pressing issues, which are symptoms of a precipitous crisis delayed in time per se, may resolve in a quite tragic way for the country, already after the death of the politician, during whose rule they were laid down.
At last, it is worth saying a few words about Islam Karimov’s personality. This is a person who betrayed and banned an ideology, to which he swore allegiance for several decades, which helped him shape his career. It has come to the destruction of monuments to revolutionaries and the vandalism of ‘communist’ architectural relics decorated by hammers and sickles. Even the monuments to those that died in the Great Patriotic War were affected; some of them were replaced by new monuments with ‘national’ symbols.
Apart from that, the deceased president treated the population of the privatised country frankly arrogantly. All you have to is remember that the most important and cost effective tram route in Tashkent was closed due to a slight overlap with the route of the government convoy. Tens of thousands of people were being trampled in overfilled busses, due to a lack of transportation, so that the president could travel along a wide street without tram rails.
So, is it possible to mourn such an ‘exceptional leader’ while being in possession of even the smallest drop of respect to oneself and one’s country?
Written by: Marat Kamalov
Translated from: http://liva.com.ua/itogi-karimova.html
Originally published on 03.09.2016 on the internet journal liva.com.ua.