09/19/2013, 00.00
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Uzbekistan threatened by civil war, civil society voices say

An emerging opposition movement is trying to push for a non-violent revolution against President Karimov, in power since 1991. For political scientist Maryam Ibragimova, any attempt at peaceful protest could however push Uzbekistan towards bloodshed.

Tashkent (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Uzbekistan is in danger of plunging into civil war. As a grassroots protest movement emerges, there is no possibility of a "velvet" revolution in the central Asia nation. Instead, for Tashkent-based political scientist Maryam Ibragimova, what lies ahead is "a bloody dismantling" of the existing dictatorship "or a prolonged civil war".

Over the past month, the Birdamlik Popular Democratic Movement has called for a 'colour revolution', one that is non-violent, with the aim of bringing together the different voices of dissent against President Islam Karimov, a former member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, who has been the president of Uzbekistan since 1991, the year of independence.

Bakhodir Choriyev, who formulated the movement's principles, is an opponent of the Uzbek government. He has been living in the United States. He is convinced that a non-violent movement could lead to the overthrow of the Karimov regime without bloodshed.

"We, the Birdamlik Movement activists, want to celebrate the 22nd Independence Day (1 September) of Uzbekistan with firm steps toward the supremacy of democratic principles," the activist said.

Online, fergananews has given ample coverage to the initiative in recent weeks, becoming a major venue for a broad discussion involving several Uzbek intellectuals, people like blogger Yadgor Norbutayev and sociologist Maryam Ibragimova.

However, unlike Choriyev, both agree that any attempt at a popular uprising would likely result in a bloody revolution and the disintegration of the country.

Most Uzbeks "are, in their absolute majority, timid and frightened, especially in the countryside". They "have no other imperative but unconditional submission to any kind of authority," Yadgor Norbutayev said.

In an accurate depiction of the political system created by Karimov, Maryam Ibragimova said that the regime can still rely on the support of the country's privileged classes, professionals and government officials, too corrupt to turn against the president.

In this case, either "the SNB (i.e. the secret services) and the army will unite and establish a military dictatorship," something many in Uzbekistan-and, it should be said, not just there-will support as "better than anarchy" even though it will not solve the country's problems; or worse, "the SNB and the army will be paralysed by corruption," and "chaos will grow into a civil war."

This will likely be a war of all against all, with different groups involved, including "separatists, Islamists, the narco-mafia, Russia, China, and the United States".

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