Policy Memos

An Opening in Uzbekistan

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May 2008 marked the three-year anniversary of the tragic Andijon events in Uzbekistan’s Fergana Valley. My understanding of these events is informed by discussions with Uzbek colleagues both within and outside of President Islam Karimov’s government. These confidants have, at considerable risk to themselves and their families, confirmed that the Karimov government applied disproportionate force in suppressing the largely peaceful protest in Andijon on May 13, 2005. If we are to believe this account, rather than the alternative militant Islamist narrative the Karimov regime offers, the question for us is: can the international community influence the Uzbek government to refrain from future political violence? Four recent developments—all profound structural changes in the geopolitics of Central Asia—offer a political opening through which the international community broadly, and the United States in particular, can encourage the Karimov regime to move toward political liberalization. [...]

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About the author

Associate Professor; School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs
George Mason University