A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Monday, June 14, 2010

Kyrgyzstan again: the Ferghana as a Border Nightmare

During the earlier round of Kyrgyzstan violence, I noted that the map of the country explains why ethnic explosions are so common — including the anti-Uzbek riots of the present outbreak and the outflow of Uzbek refugees from Kyrgyzstan. The Ferghana Valley, once the heartland of Muslim Central Asia, is divided among Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, and if that weren;t awkward enough, the Uzbek and Tajik parts cut so deeply into Kyrgyzstan as to make it look like a snapping turtle with its mouth open, the northern and southern parts so separated as to require a considerable detour to go from one to the other when international borders are closed:

It's like an invitation to ethnic cleansing: minorities have fellow ethnics just over the border in one direction or another, and everyone blames everyone else. (And Kazakhstan barely missed out on the fun.)

This article pretty much blames it all on Joe Stalin. I think that's fairly accurate, but doesn't do much about rectifying the problem.

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