Former US secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld describes the US government's handling of the events in Andijan, Uzbekistan, in 2005, as “one of the most unfortunate, if unnoticed, foreign policy mistakes of our administration” because it supposedly drove Uzbekistan into the arms of Russia.
In his new memoirs, Known and Unknown, Rumsfeld offers a detailed account of his dealings with Uzbekistan, including his views on the diplomatic crisis kicked off by the Andijan events. It is the only discussion of any length in the book concerning the Caucasus or Central Asia.
In May 2005, armed supporters of several Uzbekistan businessmen, arrested because of alleged ties to extremist Islamist organizations, stormed a jail in Andijan to free the prisoners. That catalyzed a broader demonstration at the central city square, which government forces violently put down, killing unknown hundreds of protesters.
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Joshua Kucera is a Washington, DC,-based freelance writer who specializes in security issues in Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Middle East. He is the author of EurasiaNet's Bug Pit blog.