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Uzbekistan without Karimov: what would it be?
Material posted: Pankratenko Igor N.Publication date: 04-09-2016
What is happening now in Uzbekistan will be at least another three months – until the election of a new President – with good reason can be called a "fight of bulldogs under the carpet". The situation when it is hidden from the General public, but even more dramatic and violent redistribution of power between local elites.

At this period, when real players Uzbek politicians will reach an agreement, to temporarily perform the duties of the President will be the Chairman of the Senate of the Oliy Majlis (upper house of Parliament) Nigmatilla Yuldashev. The figure, which is currently all in Tashkent completely satisfied for two reasons. On the one hand, in the power position and features of the biography, he had virtually no chance of becoming the first person of the country. But because the three main candidates for the presidency – Prime Minister Shavkat Mirzayev, first Deputy Prime Minister Rustam Azimov and the head of the national security Service Rustam Inoyatov – a serious competitor, it is not considered. The other purpose Yuldashev fully complies with the 96th article of the Uzbek Constitution: "In case of impossibility of performance of the current President of the Republic of Uzbekistan of his duties, his duties and powers are temporarily assigned to the President of the Senate of the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan, with holding for three months in full accordance with the Law "On elections of President of the Republic of Uzbekistan" the election of the President of the country".

And this is very important for any future successor to Karimov's rise to power through elections, so that no internal opponents or external partners of Tashkent was no doubt about the legitimacy of the new President of the country. As a new successor, the personal attitude to the election and democracy can be anything. But he should not give the opponents a chance to accuse itself of illegal coming to power, and contempt of the fundamental law of the country adopted on 8 December 1992 of the Constitution of Uzbekistan.

No any honest expert will undertake today to give the name of the future of the Uzbek President. You can say a lot about what the Prime Minister Shavkat Mirzieev has the best chance, but this conclusion is based only on the fact that he headed the Commission on organization of funeral of Islam Karimov. With equal success it is possible to find arguments "for" and "against" other candidates – but all this is just guesswork, because the main events in Tashkent will begin to unfold after today, the body of the first Uzbek President will be buried.

While it is possible to speak only about what will not happen – any serious destabilization of the country and any significant intensification of Islamist radicals in Uzbekistan. And since there are two of these scenarios wound weight expert version, as well as speculation and fantasy in the media environment – is to explain my negative stance towards them in more detail.

The Uzbek political elites, who are now together in the struggle for the redivision of spheres of influence, can treat each other as you want. And, accordingly, to use any methods of struggle. But with one limitation – they all need a stable and controlled Uzbekistan, which, firstly, is the dominant force in the region, and, secondly, capable of equal dialogue with external players, whether in Washington, Beijing, Moscow or anyone else – Ankara, Tehran, new Delhi. A madman who violates this "red line", will focus on domestic chaos or a support on one of the external forces – immediately, together, will destroy the rest of the local elite.

And the point here is not some special patriotism, even though the idea of a special Uzbek way is the main legacy of Islam Karimov, and consolidates today's influential political and economic circles in the country. All the more pragmatic – have torn by internal contradictions of Tashkent drops dramatically the "cost" at the regional and international level. And, accordingly, the Uzbek elite have become just a bargaining pawn in a big regional game, in addition, is seriously limited economic opportunities.

This is a way for them totally unacceptable, as unacceptable and islamisierung Uzbekistan. A strict policy of Tashkent against the radicals, like the line on the subordination of Islamic authorities of the state policy basically has a very simple explanation – the current Uzbek elite did exactly the right conclusion from events of recent years in the middle East: any legalization of the notorious "political Islam" is the imminent overthrow of secular regimes as Salafism and its offshoots competitors does not tolerate the word "all". That is why Islamist radicals in Uzbekistan — with a territory they had not worked, and whose support is not supported – there is not the slightest chance to take part in the redistribution of spheres of influence. A few attacks and a couple of local riots – the limit of their capabilities in the fight with the official Tashkent. Unpleasant and possibly tragic – but for Uzbekistan it is not deadly.

To sum up. In the next three months we will know the name of the successor to Karimov. Respectively, learn and foreign policy orientation of Tashkent. It is possible that we will witness the sensational for us episodes of the struggle for power of the Uzbek elites. But the main conclusion about what will be after the great Uzbekistan Islam Karimov can do right now. The future of the country from strong presidential Republic with elements of authoritarianism. Republic, of course, a secular, albeit with respect for Islam. A state which seeks to dominate the region. And preserving, even at the official level, distance from Washington, Moscow, Beijing and other players.

Igor Pankratenko


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