Last week I reported here on possibly ethnically-tinged conflicts stirring again in eastern Tajikistan—a country whose destabilization could be in Russia’s interest—between Sunni Tajiks and Shiite Pamiris. Since then, another separatist region in a former Soviet republic, Uzbekistan’s Republic of Karakalpakstan, has renewed its demands for autonomy as well. Does this mean covertly Russian-backed Crimea and Donbas type scenarios will be playing out in Central Asia? or is this merely a reaction to the divisiveness and unease in Moscow’s former empire?
|The flag of Karakalpakstan|
|The incredible shrinking Aral Sea paid the cost of the Soviet mania to|
make arid Uzbekistan a cotton producer. So did Karakalpaks.
|Stranded rotting ships in what used to be the Aral Sea|
But Karakalpakstan has most of Uzbekistan’s oil, plus it is just to the west of the Transcaspia region of Kazakhstan, a strategic area with a huge Russian minority, many of whom would like to join Russia. Russia’s expansionist president, Vladimir Putin, surely would not mind encircling more of the Caspian Sea the way he has done in the Black Sea—especially if it meant seizing more energy resources.
|How many ethnic Russians, like those in Crimea, will Putin decide need “protecting”?|
|Kazakhstan’s Nazarbayev, Belarus’s Lukashenko, and Russia’s Putin are the core of the new “Eurasian Union.”|
Special note: This version of the article corrects an original version which misidentifed the nationality of Anatoly Baronin. Thank you for the reader that wrote me to offer this correction.
[For those who are wondering, yes, this blog is tied in with my forthcoming book, a sort of encyclopedic atlas to be published by Auslander and Fox under the title Let’s Split! A Complete Guide to Separatist Movements, Independence Struggles, Breakaway Republics, Rebel Provinces, Pseudostates, Puppet States, Tribal Fiefdoms, Micronations, and Do-It-Yourself Countries, from Chiapas to Chechnya and Tibet to Texas. The book, which contains dozens of maps and over 500 flags, is now in the layout phase and should be on shelves, and available on Amazon, by early fall 2014. I will be keeping readers posted of further publication news. Meanwhile, please “like” the book (even though you haven’t read it yet) on Facebook.]