Uzbeks itching to join the fight in Osh
Not everyone in Uzbekistan is happy with the fairly moderate statement on the violence in Osh that Tashkent made on Saturday, saying that the violence was provoked by "forces, whose interests are totally remote from the interests of the Kyrgyz people." I talked today with Sukhrobjon Ismailov, the ace Tashkent-based analyst who told me that many people in the Uzbekistan military and security services want to intervene in Osh on the side of the Uzbeks. Ordinary Uzbeks in the Ferghana Valley are also itching to get into the fight, and many in Uzbekistan are calling what is happening in Osh a "genocide" against Uzbeks. It is Islam Karimov, Ismoilov said, who is trying to keep Uzbek emotions in check.
Other observers have told me that they saw several tanks and other military vehicles heading from Tashkent eastward, though this is apparently now just a precaution. Meanwhile, Uzbekistan has opened refugee centers in several cities in the Ferghana Valley for the tens, maybe hundreds, of thousands of Uzbeks who are fleeing the violence.
As of this writing, Russia has apparently not made any moves toward sending in their troops, as interim leader Roza Otunbayeva requested. (Ismoilov told me he thought that Medvedev's apparent hesitation is just a coy act, and that Russian intervention is inevitable.) But Steve LeVine reports that Russia was actually Otunbayeva's second choice: first she asked the Americans:
Before Kyrgyzstan turned to Russia, it informally asked Washington for military assistance including a supply of rubber bullets to quell ethnic bloodletting in the south of the country, but was turned down, I am told by people privy to the situation.