Most of the border conflicts are concentrated in the Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan-Uzbekistan triangle. During the Soviet period, the territory of the Fergana Valley, the most densely populated, Islamized and conflict-prone region of Central Asia, was divided between them. In conditions of high agrarian overpopulation, shortages of land and water, conflicts over the distribution of these resources occur here regularly. Recently, the problem of the external, Afghan border has been added to them, the situation in which, as the date for the withdrawal of the bulk of the US and NATO troops from Afghanistan is approaching, is becoming increasingly threatening.
So, at the beginning of this year, another conflict occurred on the border between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. 4 January Uzbek border guards shot dead a Kyrgyz citizen. According to their version, he illegally crossed the state border to commit a smuggling transaction, in connection with which the border guards were forced to open fire to kill. According to the Kyrgyz side, they shot at an unarmed man who did not pose any threat. Most likely, this incident would have remained unnoticed if the situation on the border again did not worsen.
On January 5, the situation around the Uzbek enclave of Soh was heated. Being surrounded on all sides by the territory of the Batken Oblast of Kyrgyzstan, the Sokh region of Uzbekistan is connected with the “metropolis” only by road. At one of the border sections in the area of the village of Chabrak, Kyrgyz border guards installed reinforced concrete pylons. Part of the pillars, as it turned out later, was established by them on Uzbek territory, and the border in this place was demarcated. On January 6, residents of the Uzbek village of Khushyar, dissatisfied with the construction, attacked the neighboring Kyrgyz village of Chabrak and took several dozen hostages, forcing them to the enclave.
The upward shots that the Kyrgyz security forces fired failed to prevent the hostage taking. Then the Kirghiz blocked all frontier posts, including the road connecting Soh with Uzbekistan. The enclave was blocked.
Tashkent placed all the blame for the incident on Kyrgyzstan. According to the National Security Service (SNB) of Uzbekistan, which is in charge of the border guard, the cause of the conflict was the actions of the Kyrgyz border guards, who illegally erected posts on Uzbek territory, and also used weapon and wounded five citizens of Uzbekistan. “... Reckless and illegal actions of the Kyrgyz border guards led to an aggravation of the situation on the Uzbek-Kyrgyz state border,” the NSS said in a press release. The next day, Kyrgyz hostages were released. The Uzbek side pledged to compensate the citizens of Kyrgyzstan for the cost of cars burned during the riots, and to pay compensation for moral damage to those Kyrgyz citizens who were taken hostage. However, the roads leading to Sokh remained blocked for a long time. 11 January Ferghana.ru reported that food and essential goods are becoming more expensive in the enclave, as residents, deprived of the opportunity to go beyond it, cannot purchase them. Difficulties experienced and Kyrgyz villages located around Sokh. The roads connecting them to Kyrgyzstan run through the enclave, and therefore their residents also began to experience difficulties with electricity, access to drinking water, medical care, etc.
The problem of enclaves went to Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, inherited from the USSR. In total, there are eight enclaves in the Fergana Valley. Most of them are located in Kyrgyzstan, where there are four Uzbek and two Tajik enclaves. The largest of the Tajik - Vorukh, administratively related to the Sogd region of Tajikistan. The largest Uzbek enclaves are Sokh and Shakhimardan. In Uzbekistan itself is located the Kyrgyz enclave of Barak with an area of about 4 square. kilometers, where they live mainly Kyrgyz. The enclaves are a constant factor of tension in the relations of the three countries. Thus, during the Batken events of 1999, militants of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan attempted to break into the territory of the Uzbek Shakhimardan enclave, after which the Uzbek authorities mined its borders.
In a rapidly growing population, conflicts over the distribution of land and water became almost annual, becoming a constant factor of instability in relations between the three republics of Central Asia.
The Sokh enclave in the Fergana Valley occupies a special place. It is the largest enclave in Central Asia and one of the largest enclaves in the world. Actually, it is an enclave only for Kyrgyzstan, but for Uzbekistan, Soh is an exclave (part of the country surrounded by another state). On an area of 352 square. km are located 19 settlements and live almost 60 thousand people. The acuteness of the situation is that the population of the enclave belonging to Uzbekistan is almost entirely Tajik. The share of Tajiks is 99%, Kyrgyz - 0,7%, and Uzbeks - only 0,3% of Sokh residents. That is, in a dispute with Bishkek, Tashkent has to defend the interests of the Tajiks, while its relations with Dushanbe have for a long time been extremely conflicting and tense.
Most of the Kyrgyz-Uzbek border in this area has not yet been delimited. According to the head of the State Border Service of Kyrgyzstan Zakir Tilenov, only 136 km (less than 40%) is described from the 30 km of the border of the Sokh district of Uzbekistan with the Batken province of Kyrgyzstan. In total, 1378 kilometers (1007%) are delimited from the 73 kilometers of the Kyrgyz-Uzbek border. The order of 370 km remains undescribed, with the most controversial areas being just the Kyrgyz exclave Barak, the Sokh enclave and two reservoirs. Further delimitation of the border without mutual concessions is impossible. According to the head of the office of the Government of Kyrgyzstan for the delimitation of the borders of Kurbanbai Iskandarov, there are areas where in one village the son’s house is located in the territory of Kyrgyzstan, and the father’s house may be in Uzbekistan. However, it was not possible to solve the problem of enclaves by exchanging the territories, since the land compensation offered by the Uzbek side did not suit Kyrgyzstan. However, as the January events show, conflicts in the enclaves may well occur with delimited borders.
Militarily, Tashkent is clearly superior to Bishkek. According to military analysts, the armed forces of Kyrgyzstan are generally the weakest in Central Asia.
This also affects the zone of the enclaves. According to the border service of Kyrgyzstan, on the borders of the enclave are two Kyrgyz border posts: Charbak and On-Odyr, while on the Uzbek side of the border Sokh guards seven frontier posts. True, both sides prefer to refrain from military confrontation, realizing that it will not lead to anything good. Uzbekistan refused to intervene even during the Osh events of 2010, when the death toll was in the thousands. Tashkent prefers not to notice smaller incidents at all, although the situation on the border has remained tense for a long time.
The situation on the Kyrgyz-Uzbek border is confirmed by the fact that recently the border guards of the two countries agreed not to use weapons to defeat in the daytime. “At early meetings, an agreement was signed that daytime weapons would not be used against residents at the borders,” Tokon Mamytov, chairman of the State Border Service of Kyrgyzstan, told 24 on April 9 at a press conference in Bishkek. that there are no fatal incidents at borders today. ” According to him, earlier, the Uzbek border guards tried to solve problems on their own with the violation of the border by citizens of Kyrgyzstan, but now they transfer the detained offenders to their Kyrgyz colleagues. According to Fergana.ru, the shooting at residents of neighboring states, judging by media reports, is most often opened by Uzbek border guards.
The situation on the border of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan is also unstable. At the end of April, a conflict occurred in the area of the Tajik enclave of Vorukh, the reason for which was the construction of the Ak-Sai-Tamdyk road, which makes it possible to get from Osh to Isfana bypassing Tajik territory. 27 April dissatisfied with the construction of the inhabitants of the Tajik Ankava, who considered that the road touches their land, blocked it, beat the builders and damaged the construction equipment. From the Tajik side, about 1000 gathered, and from the Kyrgyz side - about 300 people. Tajiks captured two Kamaz and took two Kyrgyz drivers with them. Kyrgyz and Tajik border guards arrived at the scene of the conflict, the latter of whom, according to news agencies, began shooting in the air. A detachment of SOBR arrived from Batken, after which the Kyrgyz drivers captured by the Tajiks were released, but they never returned the Kamaz. According to a resident of the Kyrgyz village of Ak-Sai Nuritdin Mamytov, quoted by Ferghana.ru, this is the fourth major clash in the Vorukh region since 1975, and small clashes take place here every year. The promises of the Kyrgyz border guards to solve the problem with the roads so far have not led to anything concrete.
The situation on the borders of the states of Central Asia has one more, external aspect. Moreover, its value may be much more significant than the slowly smoldering border conflicts between the republics of the former USSR.
In late April, news agencies reported that the clashes and the accumulation of militants are observed on the borders of Afghanistan with Turkmenistan and Tajikistan. In the Afghan province of Faryab, located on the border with Turkmenistan, according to the BBC, there were fierce clashes between government forces and the Taliban who seized several villages. According to a representative of the provincial governor, more than 60 militants were killed in these clashes. As a result of the fighting, thousands of people were forced to leave their homes. Almost simultaneously, reports began to be received about the congregation of immigrants from Central Asia and the North Caucasus on the border with Tajikistan who were at war in the Taliban. “Currently, international terrorist forces have become more active in Afghanistan,” Secretary of the Defense Council of Kyrgyzstan Busurmankul Tabaldiyev told 29 on April at a meeting of the secretaries of the SCO Security Councils in Bishkek. “The situation is aggravated by the instability of the current ruling regime, which does not enjoy the support of the main ethnic forces of the population, influential clans and tribal unions.”
According to him, already today certain territories of Afghanistan are again under the control of the militants, "who are planning provocations in the near future, aimed at destabilizing the situation in the Central Asian states."
Recall that Afghanistan borders with three of the five Central Asian states. In addition to Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan has a common border with it. And the destabilization of the military-political situation in these states will pose a threat to the entire region, with which Russia has no natural boundaries and a well-equipped, protected border. At the same time, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan are not members of the CSTO, which means that they are not bound by a defensive alliance with other members of the organization. Between Russia and Uzbekistan, however, there is an agreement on allied relations of November 14 2005, the second article of which states that aggression against one of the parties is considered as an attack on both sides. However, the possibility of cooperation between the countries of Central Asia themselves, the relations between which are burdened by numerous conflicts, in a situation of external danger, causes great doubts. On the eve of the upcoming withdrawal of most of the US troops from Afghanistan in the coming year, these circumstances force us to pay close attention to the external and internal borders of the Central Asian region.