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Date: Sun, 4 Feb 1996 09:39:00 +0100
Sender: Former Soviet Republic - Central Asia Political Discussion List <CENASIA@VM1.MCGILL.CA>
From: Gero Fedtke <a2280353@SMAIL1.RRZ.UNI-KOELN.DE>
Subject: Tajikistan crisis/Uzbeks
To: Multiple recipients of list CENASIA <CENASIA@VM1.MCGILL.CA>

Some Thoughts on Tajikistan Uzbeks

Dialog on CenAsia list, February 1996

Date: Sun, 4 Feb 1996 09:39:00 +0100
From: Gero Fedtke <a2280353@SMAIL1.RRZ.UNI-KOELN.DE>

Concerning the involvement / role played by uzbeks in the current crisis in Tajikistan, it is perhaps important to keep in mind that they are not a single group acting together, as one may get the impression from the discussion.

There exists a society of Uzbeks of tajikistan, which seems to be cooperating with the government and has its deputies in Parliament. Its leader Kurbon Sattarow (I had the oppurtunity to speak to him last fall) denies that Uzbeks fought during the hot phase of the war. He seems to be mostly occupied with cutural problems, schooling, and so on. The Tashkent government on the other hand is not supporting this society in any aspect (at least so Sattarov says), not helping - for example - with textbooks.

I don`t think this society is really representing all uzbeks. The Loqai (warlord Fajzullo Saidov, killed in 1993, was one, right?) for example seem to carry on on their own. I could also imagine some difference between Khujendi-Uzbeks and Uzbeks from the soutwest. So even if Uzbekistan, which is not so monolithic as it seems (i.e. regional factions should pursue different interest concerning Tajikistan, this is just a guess), is helping tajik uzbeks, it has to make some choice, too.

Does this make sense to you? Any comments?

Sincerely, Gero Fedtke

Date: Sun, 4 Feb 1996 09:36:57 -0500
From: Schoeberlein-Engel <schoeber@HUSC.HARVARD.EDU>

. . .

I would like to add two points to support Gero Fedtke's very important observation.

1) Even Ozbeks in Ozbekistan do not rally behind a unified national agenda and this is much more true in Tajikistan. While there have been efforts by the state during Soviet times and after in Ozbekistan to bring about uniform adherence to a unified Ozbek identity and national agenda, the state in Tajikistan has not strongly encouraged Ozbeks there to be unified. Thus, such distinct group identities as Loqay, Turk, and Arab among those officially designated as "Ozbeks", which have been suppressed to some degree in Ozbekistan, are stronger in Tajikistan.

2) It is often asserted that Leninabad Province is inclined to do Ozbekistan's bidding because it has such a large Ozbek or "Ozbekified" population. While there are many Ozbeks in Leninabad Province, it is obvious to everyone there without regard to ethnic identity that when relations are bad with Ozbekistan, their lives become vastly more difficult, since in many ways Leninabad Province is more dependent economically on Ozbekistan than it is on the rest of Tajikistan.

Meanwhile, it is often asserted that the Leninabad elite is highly Ozbekified and they are therefore some kind of secret agent of the Ozbek state. The fact that, during the conflict, the Leninabad leadership threatened to succede to Ozbekistan is taken to support this notion of the dubious loyalty of the Leninabadis. However, this threat should be seen as resistance to Kolabi domination, not an eagerness to be dominated by Ozbekistan. The Kolabis, after all, came to power with the explicit support both of the Ozbekistan government and of militia groups in southern Tajikistan that were predominantly "Ozbek" (esp. Loqay).

This claim of the unreliability of the supposedly "Ozbekified" Leninabad elite is, in my view, a slander promoted by those who wish to challenge the role of the Leninabadis as the traditionally dominant group within the Tajikistan state. While there are valid reasons why no particular group should dominate the national state, the position of Ozbeks or "Ozbekified Tajiks" in Tajikistan is not at the core of that country's problems. The problems are fundamentally rooted in power-politics, not ethnic relations.

John Schoeberlein-Engel