The Killings in Osh, Kyrgyzstan are Stalin’s Legacy 5


Osh lies in the heart of the Ferghana Valley. This extract from Murder in Samarkand gives essential backround:

I was determined to set an early example to the staff of getting around the country and wanted to travel to the Ferghana Valley. This high valley, a fertile flood plain where tributaries from the great mountains join to form the Syr Darya and Amu Darya rivers, nestles in the foothills of the Himalayas, beneath the High Pamirs and the Tien Shan, the Heavenly Mountains. It was considered a likely ethnic and religious flashpoint.

The Ferghana Valley is very heavily populated, home to over ten million people. The five countries of Central Asia together have a land area substantially greater than all of Western Europe. Twenty per cent of the entire population of this vast region live in the Ferghana Valley, which has a land area similar to Belgium.

It is, in a very real sense, the heart of Central Asia, It ought to be the economic powerhouse of the region. To explain why it is not, I have to explain something about the crazy geography of Central Asia.

The Ferghana Valley is split between Kirghizstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The borders of these three countries, and not just in the Ferghana Valley, intertwine and convolute as though they were a jigsaw cut by a one armed alcoholic. In the Ferghana Valley, there are seven enclaves of Uzbekistan entirely cut off by surrounding countries.

This is the difficult bit to grasp: the borders are deliberately nonsensical and specifically designed not to create viable economic units, and in particular not to have any political, cultural or ethnic coherence. The names Kirghizstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan might give the impression that they are the ethnic home of the Kirghiz, Tajiks and Uzbeks. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. They are quite deliberately not that. For example, the major Uzbek town of Osh, in the Ferghana Valley, is over the border in Kirghizstan. The centres of the great Tajik culture, Samarkand and Bokhara, are not in Tajikistan but in Uzbekistan, even though 90% of the population of those cities remain Tajik speaking – although they are now subject to drastic Uzbek government attempts to choke the language out.

The Soviet Union was in theory just that – a Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Kirghizstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan were three of them. But whatever the theory, Stalin had no intention of allowing the republics to become viable entities or potential powerbases for rivals. So they were deliberately messed up with boundaries that cut across natural economic units like the Ferghana Valley and cut cultural and ethnic links.

Murder in Samarkand pp 70-71

Further thoghts on this tomorrow.


5 thoughts on “The Killings in Osh, Kyrgyzstan are Stalin’s Legacy

  • ingo

    Going by your description, as well as adding to this the political factor of three leaders, all highly unpopular, with Karimov most likely the worst of the lot, this issue is bound to come to point when the opposition boils over and revolts, a strategy that will result in more Andejan style massacre’s.

    First goal must be to find common points within three opposition movements and I bet there are lots.

    Would it not be wise for the opposition movements of all three countries to work out a formula on how to re arrange the borders,in opposition, so three units can exist side by side, or declare a Federation of republics and publicise widely, lobby to bring this formula into the UN, find co sponsors, whilst at the same time preparing for a plan B and C and the idea of violent struggle as a last resort.

    You knew it would happen sooner or later, the disharmony of the Ferghana valley’s econmic activities come over very well in your book.

  • Dick the Prick

    Right, that’s it – will scrape the mothballs off my wallet (if I can find it) and buy your bloody book!!! Nah, seriously, excellent insight which I really should learn about. Cheers Craig.

  • uzbekistan

    On 21st March 2005 i was in Osh when Askar Akiev Ran away and Bakiev Took Over. I was myself beaten by the Kyrgyz mob and saved by Uzbek Youngsters. Uzbeks and Kyrgyz always were competing for the resources. Uzbeks look down at Kyrgyz because they think that The Kyrgyz have come down from the mountains and are not the natural inhabitants of the cities. Kyrgyz look down on Uzbeks as invaders who are controlling their Cities.

    So the solutions are not very simple for a complex problem. My opinion about all these Revolutions is very simple. They are always serving the interest of some elite group. People are just waching. I saw it with my own eyes in 2005 when 100 drunk young people changed the government and whole city people were just spectators waiting for some sensational news.

  • somebody

    Quelle surprise!

    U.S. Discovers Nearly $1 Trillion in Afghan Mineral Deposits

    The United States has discovered nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan, far beyond any

    previously known reserves and enough to fundamentally alter the Afghan economy and perhaps the Afghan war itself,

    according to senior American government officials.

    The previously unknown deposits — including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium — are so big and include so many minerals that

    are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world, the United States officials believe.

    Read More:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/14/world/asia/14minerals.html?emc=na

    Heard that the Russians have sent troops to defend their base near the capital in Kyrgystan. Will the Americans do the same in the light of the minerals discovery (is this new?) and/or because this base is used to forward troops and supplies to Afghanistan?

  • Michael Petek

    Noon, 14 June 2010

    The BBC reports at least 117 people have been killed in three days of fighting between Kyrgyz and ethnic Uzbeks. Tens of thousands of Uzbeks have fled to Uzbekistan. Some have accused security forces of failing to stop – or joining in – the attacks. No units of Hamas are reported to be in the area.

    The government of Kyrgyzstan was not condemned at the United Nations for its disproportionate use of force, and no emergency meeting of the Security Council has been convened.

    In Turkey, Prime Minister Erdogan did not warn Kyrgyztan that it risked losing Turkey’s friendship for its illegal acts of force against innocent civilians. In several cities of the Middle East, not so much as a single f***ing mouse was seen on the streets burning the Kyrgyz flag and calling for the destruction of Kyrgystan.

    Meanwhile, the Turkish organisation IHH did not comment on whether a humanitarian aid convoy would be sent to give any assistance to the beleaguered Uzbeks.

    However, our correspondent was able to speak to celebrity journalist Borat Sagdiev at his home in neighbouring Kazakhstan. Denying that he had any connection with Jewish comedian Sascha Baron Cohen, he said, “In my country we do not give two-kopeck toss about Uzbeks and Kyrgyz. We only pick on yids and kikes because they are children of apes and pigs.”

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