Central Asia: Lessons for the Middle East

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Every one of the “republics” of Central Asia sits inside artificial borders arbitrarily drawn by the Soviets, each a sovereign authoritarian country; Uzbekistan has retained even today its one-party Soviet-era dictatorship.  Ethnic tensions are to be found in all the countries of Central Asia, and these sometimes produce massive violence.

According to the United Nations, in the 2010 violence 400,000 refugees were displaced and over 100,000 people, mainly ethnic Uzbeks, fled across the border to neighboring Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.  The Kyrgyzstani interim government headed by acting president Roza Otunbayeva was accused of granting shoot-to-kill powers to its security forces in the south, and was criticized by human rights organizations. Human Rights Watch reported some involvement of government forces in attacks on Uzbek neighborhoods.

There are several lessons that can be learned from the violence in Kyrgyzstan.  As a predominantly Moslem country Kyrgyzstan is very much a part of the Middle East.  As such, the first lesson is that in the Middle East, bi-national and multi-national political structures do not work well, even under the best of circumstances, and produce inter-communal and internecine violence.  Multi-ethnic Tajikistan has also seen civil war break out among different Muslim groups in that country.  If relations among the fellow Turkic Muslims of rival ethnic groups break down into near-civil war, then how much less viable would be any bi-national Jewish-Arab state of the sort that the Destroy-Israel movement is currently proposing?

Ironically, there is a related positive lesson for the Middle East from the same region.  While relations between ethnic Slavs and local Muslims in Central Asia have often been tense and can be potentially explosive, recent violent confrontations have been relatively rare largely because of the massive out-migration of the Slavs to Russia and the Ukraine.  Ethnic Germans also largely emigrated. Ethnic Russians and Ukrainians simply moved to those nation-states in which their kin are the dominant majority.

Could not the Arab-Israeli conflict be resolved at least partly through a similar out-migration of “Palestinians” and their relocation into the predominantly Arab ethnic “homelands,” much like the resettlement of Central Asian Slavs?  After all, “Palestinians” are by and large people whose families migrated into what is now Israel from neighboring countries over the past century or so, to take advantage of rising standards of living produced by the Zionist immigrations and investments of capital there. And Palestinian Arabs are the only ethnic group on the planet that can choose to move to any from among 22 different sister states composed of the same ethnic group to which they belong.

Confrontation and civil war with Slavs have been prevented in Central Asia thanks to “transfer” of the minority Slav population to the predominantly Slavic countries.  “Transfer” has long been the bogeyman solution that defenders of the Palestinian agenda dismiss as a racist and colonialist idea.  They prefer the “progressive” solution of annihilating Israel and its population and erecting even more Arab states in its territory.  The same people who want Israel dismembered reject out of hand the idea that Iraq or Syria could be made into more tranquil places by breaking them each into smaller states with more homogeneous populations.  After all, that would be “colonialistic,” unlike Soviet border invention.

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  • http://libertyandculture.blogspot.com/ JasonPappas

    A brave article raising an important and forgotten topic: population transfers. Let's remember that the Arabs pressured the Jews to leave all Arab lands—close to 1 million Jews. The majority settled in Israel.

    The Arabs who fled the newly-created state of Israel in 1948 would have eventually moved to Arab nations if it weren't for Western aid (direct aid or through the United Nations). One doesn't have to push anyone out. The search for jobs will do it … if the welfare is cut off.

    • ObamaYoMoma

      I hate to rain on your naïve parade, but what is happening in Israel has never been an ethnic conflict between Jews and Arabs. Instead, it has always been a permanent jihad of conquest being waged perpetually against the Jewish unbelievers in Israel by the Islamic world today primarily via their so-called Palestinian proxy, which were conveniently created in Moscow out of whole cloth in 1964 by the Soviet KGB to camouflage the Islamic world's permanent and perpetual jihad of conquest under a cloak of nationalism.

      • http://libertyandculture.blogspot.com/ JasonPappas

        I wasn't addressing the "Arab nationalism" vs. "Islamic jihad" issue. The author bravely raises the issue of expelling a hostile population from its border.

        Now we shouldn't lose the important perspective that you raise. Israel is on the front lines of the jihad … so is India, for that matter.

  • KarshiKhanabad

    There are a great many reaons why the U.S. should be actively involved in Central Asia. Ironically, we had an active base in Uzbekistan (I was there in 2003-4) until the politics of the Andijon incident got us kicked out in 2005. As for the patchwork nature of the Soviet-imposed borders, look at the western border of Uzbekistan and see how it was lopped off short of the Caspian Sea to give that shore to Turkmenistan. Note how the national capitals of the 'Stans all lie close to the drawn borders. Look up the destruction of the Aral Sea during the Soviet era.

    The author is correct in describing the Central Asian region as a highway for conquerors across the centuries; Uzbeks told me with pride that Alexander the Great took an Uzbek wife. Their coinage depicts Tamerlaine. The ethnic map of the area is far more complex than the artificial borders. One of the few bright spots is the changeover from Cyrillic to Latin in their written languages and the substitutiion of English in place of Russian in their schools.

  • ObamaYoMoma

    I hate to rain on those writer's parade, but what is happening in Israel is a permanent jihad of conquest is being waged perpetually by the Islamic world against the Jewish unbelievers in Israel, and in fact it is one of many permanent jihads of conquest also being waged simultaneously around the world by the Islamic world against various non-Muslim unbelievers. As the Jewish unbelievers in Israel are far from the only non-Muslim unbelievers in the world that are victims of permanent jihads of conquest being waged perpetually against them.

    Thus, instead of trying to misrepresent the permanent jihad of conquest being waged perpetually against the Jewish unbelievers in Israel by the Islamic world as somehow being an ethnic conflict between Jews and Arabs, which is utterly absurd to say the least, Israel's government and foreign ministry should be meeting with all of the other various victims of permanent jihads of conquest around the world in order to form a united front with them to collectively oppose the permanent jihads of conquest being waged simultaneously against all of them. It should also at the same time refuse to negotiate with the Islamic world unless the Islamic world agrees to negotiate collectively with all of them, again because there is strength in numbers.

    Indeed, it's literally insane and suicidal at the same time for alleged supporters of Israel to pretend that the permanent jihad of conquest being waged perpetually against the Jewish unbelievers in Israel is an ethnic conflict between Jews and Arabs, when in reality it obviously is a permanent and perpetual jihad of conquest to make Islam supreme. In fact, it is just one jihad of conquest out of many jihads of conquest that collectively altogether comprise the stealth global jihad.

    • Western Canadian

      I hate to rain on your incredibly ignorant and pompous parade, oh, wait a minute, no i don’t…..

      You are an uncommonly ignorant lout and jerk, who spends his time and welfare cheques (note commonwealth spelling) composing inflated nonsense and rubbish, the basis of which is usually ascribing motives, behaviours and attitudes to the rest of the human race (as a whole, in groups and as individuals) that have nothing in common with and in no way resemble, the actual motives, behaviours and attitudes of said rest of the human race.

      Your entire existence, as pitiable as it is, consists of attacking straw men (and no doubt straw women) of your own creation, while trying to and failing to rewrite history, the koran, and anything else you have no familiarity with, but have at some point in your sad existence heard about but completely misunderstood.

      You have also apparently forgotten to take your meds again.

      • ObamaYoMoma

        I bet this leftwing Canadian twerp here wishes he could report me to the Canadian Human Rights Commission in order to censure me, as it is clear that he has a serious aversion to the truth.

        • KarshiKhanabad

          OYM, he must be a Muslim since he doesn't attempt to logically debate you but simply indulges in gratuitous insults that any smart two-year-old could outdo him in.

          Ain't it great to be an American? We can tell the Canadian Anti-Human Freedoms Commission to go pound sand and say to them, "I'm a free man, lickspittle. There's nothing you can do about it."

          Which movie did that quote come from?


          • ObamaYoMoma

            Which movie did that quote come from?

            DOCTOR ZHIVAGO

  • Indioviejo

    Very illuminating article. I like the show of futile nation building among Muslim peoples. Does anybody think we have learned the lesson ? I think not.

  • Myles

    Quite possibly the stupidest and most ignorant statements about Central Asia in 2012. And I’m guessing it will still be reigning champion come December.


  • judy Shenk

    Myles cannot find a single thing they got wrong. What a doofus!