At the beginning of 2000 the central question of the Uzbekistan (now Uzbekiston Respublikasi) continued to be the containment of the thrusts of Islamic fundamentalism, internal ones and those coming from the neighboring Afghānistān especially after the advance of the Ṭālibān. To this end, as well as to safeguard the independence acquired after the collapse of the USSR in December 1991, the Uzbekistan, Confirming the choice of neutrality proclaimed with a special law in 1996, consolidated relations with the other Central Asian states. former Soviet.
Already in December 1995, during the meeting held in Almaty (Kazakhstan) between the presidents of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and the UzbekistanK., Uzbek President I. Karimov had proposed the creation of a common peacekeeping force ‘under the aegis of the UN and the formation of a regional defense council, as well as the creation of a common economic space. In July 1997, also following Uzbek pressure, the heads of state of the same countries met in Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan) to examine the possibility of creating a real political-military bloc and a consortium to manage energy resources and water (the latter largely dependent on the contribution of Kyrgyzstan). Finally in March 1998, in a meeting in Dushanbe (Tajikistan), the leaders of Tajikistan, of the Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan discussed the problems of cooperation in the Central Asian region with particular attention to finding ways to stem the possible expansion of Islamic extremism in that area. Furthermore, also in order to curb the migratory flow from Tajikistan caused by the civil war, the Uzbekistan confirmed with this country the agreements already signed in 1996 for the reconstruction of industrial plants, roads and railways.
According to behealthybytomorrow, the proposals put forward to the UN by the Uzbekistan to avert the threat represented by the Afghan Ṭālibān (embargo on the sale of arms to Afghānistān and the establishment of a large contact group including the various countries affected by the problem) collided with a reality that saw Pakistan and the USA on the one hand, albeit with different formulations and nuances, in fact siding with the Ṭālibān and on the other the same Uzbekistan to support within the Afghānistān the forces loyal to General R. Dostum, of Uzbek ethnicity, while Russia sided with the forces of the former enemy, General R. Mas῾ūd, and Iran with those of the Hezb-i Wahdat party (Party of unity). In this situation, the prospect of an agreed solution such as the one proposed by the Uzbekistan it was getting difficult. And this is also because, in addition to the question of Islamic fundamentalism, transport was at stake – via Afghānistān to Pakistan and the Arabian Gulf, as also requested by the USA, or to Europe via Russia, as proposed elsewhere. and especially in Moscow – Caspian oil.
Relations with Russia and with the organs of the CIS, always difficult and fluctuating, worsened in February 1999 following the decision taken by the Uzbekistan to withdraw its accession to the Tashkent Treaty on the collective security of the CIS countries.
However, power remained firmly in the hands of Karimov who, at the same time as he opened schools for the study of the Arabic language and civilization, as well as a university – the first of its kind in the former USSR – to train cadres in the fields of politics and of the economy, outlawed the Islamic parties Birlik (Unity) and Erk (Freedom) and imposed laws that severely restrict the freedom of the press.
The passing of heavy anti-terrorist laws did not prevent the repetition of kidnappings and attacks, attributed to the most radical groups of the Islamic opposition. In February 1999, a failed attack on Karimov in Tashkent left 16 dead and 150 injured. In this climate, the political elections took place in December 1999 (which ended with the attribution of the vast majority of seats to the president’s party) and in January 2000 the presidential elections with the obvious triumph (91.9 %) of Karimov.
Much criticism eventually continued to be directed at the Uzbekistan for environmental policy. During the conference on this subject that was held in Tashkent in September 1998, the serious deterioration suffered by a large area of the Uzbekistan due to industrial pollution and above all the reckless use of the salt water of the Aral Sea, which threatened its very existence. From 1991 to 1998 no less than 75. In fact, 000 people had been forced to leave the Aral area and 270. 000 the country for causes related to environmental pollution.