“Third Term-itis” in Tashkent

Those tired of Tony Blair’s Long Goodbye should feel sorry for Uzbekistan.

President Islam Karimov’s second term of office ended on 22 January 2007, but his bum has still not left the seat.  On 13 February he gave his cabinet forward plans until 2011. Has Karimov’s Gordon Brown not been born yet?

Some Russian analysts say he has, and point to Uzbekistan’s  National Security Service Head, Rustam Inoyatov, who defeated the Interior Minister in an internal power struggle after the massacre of civilian demonstrators in Andijan in 2005.

Inoyatov operates on a wide stage, supervising through his son all Uzbekistan’s energy shipping operations, including its “Uzneftegaztrans” venture which was registered in Mississippi, USA in 1996. Inoyatov Snr is said to have good intelligence ties in Afghanistan since his days as a Soviet invader in 1980, and “Uzneftegaztrans” also ships oil to US troops there.

In fact his foreign foothold might be Inoyatov’s Scotland factor.  Russia has managed to curb US influence in Uzbekistan since Andijan and wants to keep it that way.

Other analysts say Karimov’s heir might be just that. His daughter Gulnara secured diplomatic immunity as a Counsellor in the Uzbekistan Embassy in Moscow, during a legal dispute with her estranged husband in the USA, but remains a major oligarch in Uzbekistan. If she were to become Prime Minister, she could keep her immunity and be a likely successor for her father when he stands down.  Russia is familiar with this kind of legacy.