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Archive for the ‘Central Land of Uzbekistan’ Category

Taliban’s political stature rises with talks in Uzbekistan

August 12, 2018

ISLAMABAD (AP) — In a rare diplomatic foray and the strongest sign yet of increasing Taliban political clout in the region, the head of the insurgents’ political office led a delegation to Uzbekistan to meet senior Foreign Ministry officials there, Uzbek and Taliban officials said.

Taliban political chief Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai represented the insurgents in the four-day talks that ended on Friday and included meetings with Uzbekistan’s Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov as well as the country’s special representative to Afghanistan Ismatilla Irgashev.

The meetings follow an offer made by Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev in March to broker peace in Afghanistan. Suhail Shaheen, spokesman for the Taliban’s political office in Qatar, said in a statement to The Associated Press on Saturday that discussions covered everything from withdrawal of international troops from Afghanistan to peace prospects and possible Uzbek-funded development projects that could include railway lines and electricity.

Shaheen said Uzbek officials discussed their security concerns surrounding the development projects. “The Taliban also exchanged views with the Uzbek officials about the withdrawal of the foreign troops and reconciliation in Afghanistan,” he said in the statement.

Uzbek’s Foreign Affairs Ministry website offered a terse announcement on the visit, saying “the sides exchanged views on prospects of the peace process in Afghanistan. ” Still, the meetings are significant, coming as the Taliban are ramping up pressure on Afghan security forces with relentless and deadly attacks. Washington has held preliminary talks with the insurgents in an attempt to find a negotiated end to Afghanistan’s protracted war.

The Taliban have gained increasing attention from Russia as well as Uzbekistan, which view the insurgency as a bulwark against the spread of the Islamic State group in Afghanistan. The United States has accused Moscow of giving weapons to the Taliban.

Still, Andrew Wilder, vice president of Asia programs at the U.S. Institute of Peace said Washington would welcome a “constructive” Russian role in finding a way toward a peace pact in Afghanistan. “What wouldn’t be helpful would be if the Uzbek efforts to facilitate lines of communication with the Taliban are not closely coordinated with the Afghan government,” he said.

“High profile talks by foreign governments with the Taliban that exclude the Afghan government risk providing too much legitimacy to the Taliban without getting much in return,” Wilder said. On Sunday, Ehsanullah Taheri, the spokesman of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council, a wide-encompassing body tasked with finding a path to peace with the government’s armed opponents, said Uzbek officials had the Afghan government’s approval for the meeting.

“Afghan government welcomes any effort regarding the Afghan peace process, especially those attempts which can lead us to an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process,” said Taheri. Still, there was no indication from either side that progress toward substantive talks between the Taliban and the government was made.

For Uzbekistan, the IS presence is particularly worrisome as hundreds of its fighters are former members of the radical Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, a declared terrorist group considered the architect of some of the more horrific attacks carried out by IS in Afghanistan.

Last year, there were reports that the son of Tahir Yuldashev, the powerful Uzbek leader of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, who was killed in a U.S. missile strike in Pakistan in 2009, was leading efforts to help expand IS influence in Afghanistan.

Last week, Afghan security forces reportedly rescued scores of Afghan Uzbeks who had declared their allegiance to IS when they came under attack by Taliban fighters in northern Afghanistan, not far from the border with Uzbekistan. The rescued Uzbek warriors subsequently declared they would join the peace process.

Most of those rescued were Afghan Uzbeks loyal to Afghanistan’s Vice President Rashid Dostum who wet over and joined IS after Dostum fell out with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and fled to Turkey in May last year to live in self-imposed exile there.

Coincidentally, the rescue of Afghan Uzbeks from the battle with the Taliban came just days after Dostum returned to Afghanistan and reconciled with Ghani’s government.

Associated Press Writer Rahim Faiez in Kabul, Afghanistan contributed to this report.

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Uzbekistan: Heavy flooding kills five in southeast

17.05.2018

TASHKENT, Uzbekistan

Heavy flooding has killed five people in Uzbekistan’s southeast, country’s Emergency Situations Ministry announced Thursday.

The ministry said floods triggered by torrential rains hit Qashqadaryo Region’s Chirakchi district.

Relief efforts were underway in the region, it said.

Earlier this week, roads and up to 200 houses were damaged due to flooding in Qashqadaryo’s Kitob district.

Source: Anadolu Agency.

Link: https://www.aa.com.tr/en/todays-headlines/uzbekistan-heavy-flooding-kills-five-in-southeast-/1148821.

Uzbekistan to hold presidential election on December 4

09 September 2016 Friday

Uzbekistan will elect a new president on December 4 following the death of long-time leader Islam Karimov, Reuters news agency reported.

The country’s elections authority made the announcement on Friday, just a day after the Uzbek parliament named Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev as interim president.

Under the Uzbek constitution, a presidential election must be held within three months, and Mirziyoyev, who was the official mourner-in-chief at Karimov’s funeral is widely expected to be elected.

Karimov died of a stroke last week after ruling the resource-rich country for 27 years. Nearly half of the country’s 32 million citizens were born after he came to power.

Many analysts had anticipated that Karimov would be succeeded by his older daughter Gulnara, a businesswoman and pop star, but she fell from favour two years ago and there was no sign of her on Saturday among the family members in the funeral cortege.

With no obvious successor, Karimov’s death has triggered an outpouring of grief, mixed with uncertainty about the future.

Unrest would have repercussions for Russia, the regional power and home to hundreds of thousands of Uzbek migrant workers, and for the US-allied government in Afghanistan.

The Kremlin’s top political adviser, Yuri Ushakov, said on Saturday that Moscow expected the political situation in Uzbekistan to remain stable.

The Uzbek government has long been repeatedly criticized for human rights abuses, most notoriously in 2005 in the city of Andijan, where government forces are accused of killing hundreds of demonstrators.

Former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, accused Karimov’s security forces of executing two dissidents by boiling them to death.

Source: al-Jazeera.

Link: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/09/uzbekistan-hold-presidential-election-december-4-160909104447868.html.

Uzbek Cabinet praises harsh Karimov before burial

September 03, 2016

MOSCOW (AP) — In a statement ahead of President Islam Karimov’s burial Saturday, Uzbekistan’s government hailed the authoritarian leader as a statesman and democrat though he was widely criticized abroad for harsh repression of dissent,

The 78-year-old Karimov, whose death from a cerebral hemorrhage was announced Friday, was being laid to rest in his birthplace of Samarkand, the ancient Silk Road city. Karimov’s coffin was placed in the Registan, the renowned square flanked on three sides by madrassahs covered in intricate, colorful tiles and topped with aqua cupolas. The Interfax news agency said the square was packed with thousands of men — women were excluded — to hear a mufti give a funeral prayer that said “Islam Karimov served his people.”

The body was then taken to the Shah-i-Zinda necropolis, another architecturally significant site. Karimov became leader of Uzbekistan in 1989 when it was a Soviet republic, then held power with ruthless determination throughout all of Uzbekistan’s independence. He crushed opposition, repressed the media and was repeatedly denounced by activists abroad for human rights violations including killings and torture.

His Cabinet, however, said in a statement that Karimov “attained a high authority in the country and in the international community as an outstanding statesman, who has developed and implemented a deeply thought-out strategy of building a democratic constitutional state with a civil society and a market economy.”

Karimov cultivated no apparent successor, and his death raised concerns that the predominantly Sunni Muslim country could face prolonged infighting among clans over its leadership, something its Islamic radical movement could exploit.

“The death of Islam Karimov may open a pretty dangerous period of unpredictability and uncertainty in Uzbekistan,” Alexei Pushkov, head of the Russian parliament’s foreign affairs committee, told the Tass news agency on Friday.

Given the lack of access to the strategic country, it’s hard to judge how powerful the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan might be. Over the years, the group has been affiliated with the Taliban, al-Qaida and the Islamic State group, and it has sent fighters abroad.

Under the Uzbek constitution, if the president dies his duties pass temporarily to the head of the senate until an election can be held within three months. However, the head of the Uzbek senate is regarded as unlikely to seek permanent power and Karimov’s demise is expected to set off a period of jockeying for political influence.

Karimov was known as a tyrant with an explosive temper and a penchant for cruelty. His troops killed hundreds unarmed demonstrators with machine guns during a 2005 uprising, he jailed thousands of political opponents, and his henchmen reportedly boiled some dissidents to death.

Report: Uzbek government says President Karimov has died

September 02, 2016

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia’s state news agency is citing the government of Uzbekistan as saying that President Islam Karimov has died. The 78-year-old Karimov was the only leader independent Uzbekistan ever had. He was reported to have been hospitalized last week and rumors of his death have circulated for days.

The RIA-Novosti news agency on Friday cited the Uzbek government as saying his funeral would be held on Saturday.

Uzbek TV figure reads independence speech for ill president

September 01, 2016

MOSCOW (AP) — A national newsreader has delivered a televised Independence Day speech on behalf of ailing President Islam Karimov, who remains hospitalized in the Uzbek capital, Tashkent, with a suspected brain hemorrhage.

The surprise substitution reflected rising political uncertainty in Uzbekistan, which observed its national holiday Thursday. It was Karimov’s first-ever absence from the celebrations. Karimov has run an authoritarian regime in the Central Asian nation since 1989, suppressing opposition and cultivating no apparent successor. He hasn’t been seen in public since mid-August, and his government last weekend admitted he was ill. His daughter on Monday said he had suffered a brain hemorrhage.

Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyayev led the start of independence-related events Wednesday. Other events have reportedly been cancelled, including a concert and a fireworks display.

Uzbek PM leads national celebration; president still ill

August 31, 2016

MOSCOW (AP) — Uzbekistan’s prime minister is leading the nation’s Independence Day celebration in the capital of Tashkent amid reports of President Islam Karimov’s illness. The government announced Sunday that the 78-year-old Karimov had been hospitalized, and his daughter issued a statement Monday saying he had suffered a brain hemorrhage.

Karimov has run an authoritarian regime in this Central Asian nation since 1989, harshly repressing any opposition and cultivating no apparent successor. On Tuesday, unconfirmed reports claimed that Karimov had already died.

Russian news agencies on Wednesday said the Independence Day celebrations in Tashkent were led by Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyayev, who has been rumored as a possible successor. The uncertainty over Karimov’s health raises concerns that Uzbekistan could face prolonged in-fighting among clans over leadership claims, something Islamic radicals could exploit.

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