Iran’s state radio station in the border city of Mashhad has recently been airing inflammatory Uzbek-language broadcasts on behalf of the shadowy “Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan” (IMU). After an opening salvo which contained mainly religious arguments in urging revolt (see the Monitor, March 26), the radio has broadcast a more overtly political appeal, citing President Islam Karimov’s pro-Western orientation as the main reason for true Islamic believers to seek a violent change of government in Uzbekistan.
Credited to the IMU Political Committee, the statement describes Karimov and his government as acting “in the forefront of U.S. and Israeli attempts to enslave the peoples of Central Asia, to plunder their wealth [and] to build military bases.” Official Tashkent, it says, has “sold out to Jews and America,” and is “planning to turn the region into a second Balkan where America and NATO have launched a war.” By the same token, the statement emphasizes, the Uzbek leadership is “hostile to neighboring countries,” specifically Iran and Russia. It repeatedly describes Karimov as “Jewish” and seeking to secure privileges for Judaism and Christianity in Uzbekistan, to the detriment of Islam (Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in Uzbek, April 11, as monitored by BBC, Summary of World Broadcasts, April 15).
The IMU’s actual identity is elusive and program goals remain obscure. What this statement reflects is Iran’s and Russia’s concerted effort to act against Western influence in Central Asia and the Caspian region. The statement targets the policies of economic and military cooperation with the West, which are being pursued by the Uzbek and other regional governments, and jointly opposed by Russia and Iran. The upswing of seditious Iranian propaganda coincides with Uzbekistan’s decision to quit the CIS Collective Security Treaty.
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