Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Central Asia Sounds Alarm on Islamic Radicalism

There is a strengthening of Islamic movements in Central Asia, especially
in the Fergana Valley, which includes parts of Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. All three countries are former Soviet republics with secular leaders and Muslim populations. The valley has long been considered one of the region’s most unstable areas because of poverty, militancy and loose borders. In 2005, in the Uzbek section of the valley, soldiers killed hundreds of people massing in an antigovernment protest.

Russia also has military bases in Central Asia and is on the alert for any signs that Islamic extremism could spread into Muslim parts of Russia. In recent weeks, it reached a tentative agreement with the Kyrgyz government to establish a military base in the Fergana Valley, in part to help ensure stability there. The base would be Russia’s second major one in Kyrgyzstan.

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