Over 1000 people have been injured, and almost 100 killed this week in Kyrgyzstan following ‘ethnic’ riots in the southern cities of Osh and Jalalabad.
Only two months ago over 80 people were killed as Kyrgyzstan underwent a bloody revolution where the former President Bakiyev was overthrown and replaced by Roza Otunbayeva as Interim Prime Minister.
The deaths and unrest in Kyrgyzstan cannot be seen in isolation from the on-going struggle between Russia and the United States in the region. In response to the recent unrest, the interim government of Kyrgyzstan has called for Russian military assistance.
After the coup in April 2010, Russia was first to welcome the new administration, whilst Washington initially expressed shock. In a few weeks time a constitutional referendum is scheduled to legitimize this change of government.
Only weeks before the coup Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. envoy to Afghanistan, visited Kyrgyzstan in February and ‘exchanged views’ with President Bakiyev. Following the visit the website ‘Russia Today’ reported that "the United States had announced $5.5 million to assist Kyrgyzstan in building a training centre for special units to combat terrorism in Batken." ‘ They quoted Alexander Kniazev, director of the regional Bishkek branch of the CIS Institute think tank about the centre as saying "The United States could use this centre to meet its needs in Central Asia. The slogan of fighting terrorism is only a pretext to achieve American goals as is the case in Iraq and Afghanistan", adding "The United States is seeking through these projects in Central Asia to challenge and compete with Russia and China in the region."
Russia and the United States have been struggling intensely for influence in Central Asia and in Eastern Europe. Russia is trying to exploit the current relative vulnerability of the United States – humiliated in Iraq and Afghanistan and in the midst of an economic crisis. It has used political pressure (in Belarus and Kazakhstan), economic pressure, social instability, threats to energy supplies (e.g. in Ukraine), and direct military intervention (in South Ossetia).
Kyrgyzstan lies in one of the most strategically important regions of the world. The United States and NATO rely on the Manas airbase to transfer vital supplies to support their occupation of Afghanistan. Russia also has bases in the region, but these – like the Manas base – are in the north of the country. It is close to Iran, Russia, the oil and gas-rich Caspian Sea and part of the fertile Fergana valley – which connects the neighbouring Central Asian republics. The sentiment for Islam is very high in this region – as acknowledged by BBC Radio this week that reported that Hizb ut-Tahrir is the most serious opposition group in the region.
As the two old rivals play their new ‘Great Game’, Muslim bodies remain mere pawns to be sacrificed.
Until the Muslim world adopts an independent course from the hegemony of the various regional and global powers, we will only see more examples of the Ummah as victims of exploitation, bloodshed and oppression. It is only the Khilafah state that will bring that independent path, through the implementation of Islam.
1 Rajab 1431
13 June 2010