Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 165

In broadcasts beamed to Central Asia on September 4 and 6, Iranian state radio described the insurgent force as targeting Uzbekistan only, and merely seeking passage through Kyrgyzstan. Endorsing the insurgency, the radio at the same time faulted the Uzbek government for the fact that “Uzbek-Russian relations have become cool over the last two years. The main reason [for this] is [Uzbek President Islam] Karimov’s stubborness, which is causing serious disruption in many spheres of the relationship with Russia.” In a follow-up commentary, the radio approvingly observed that “Russia is not pleased with Uzbekistan’s policy of drawing close to the West.” The commentary predicted that Russia will not rush to the support of the Uzbek government against insurgents. The radio, furthermore, put on the air a “representative of the Uzbek opposition” who indicted the Uzbek leadership mainly for violations of democracy, playing down the religious angle. Iranian radio has recently aired, from time to time, secular critics of the Uzbek government–a policy which tends to confirm Tashkent’s suspicions regarding a tactical alliance of Islamic and secular opposition groups. But at the same time Tehran keeps up the inflammatory rhetoric couched in religious terms, as it did on September 6 in airing the rebels’ threat to launch a Jihad (Islamic holy war) unless Kyrgyzstan grants them free passage to Uzbekistan (Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran (Mashhad), September 4, 6; see the Monitor, September 7).

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