‘Troika’ to combat Islamic terrorism

Russia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan have agreed to join hands to combat the
growing threat of Islamic terrorism and extremism in Central Asia.

The agreement to set up a “troika” alliance was announced at the end of
talks in Moscow between the Russian President, Mr. Boris Yeltsin and his Uzbek
counterpart, Mr. Islam Karimov. The Tajik President, Mr. Imomali Rakhmonov, was
reported to have given his consent to the new axis in a telephone conversation
with the Russian and Uzbek leaders.

“Troika will be concerned not only with questions of stabilising the
situation and ending confrontation in Tajikistan, but will also handle issues
pertaining to the rehabilitation of the Tajik economy and opposition to
aggressive nationalism, religious fundamentalism and extremism,” Mr. Karimov
said after the talks. Mr. Yeltsin said Russia and Uzbekistan were aiming at
developing a strategic relationship.

“We feel the need to lend strategic character to our relations in the face
of an ideological threat from the south,” Mr. Yeltsin said.

The announcement of the “troika” alliance came four days after armed clashes
in the capital of Tajikistan between Government and Islamic Opposition forces
threatened to disrupt reconciliation process in the war- torn republic supported
both by Russia and Uzbekistan.

Analysts said the “troika” was likely to have military and economic, rather
than political thrust.

“Karimov has come to Moscow to forge military and economic ties with Russia,
while keeping his distance from the Kremlin politically,” said Mr. Oleg
Panfilov, deputy editor of the Tsentralnaya Azia (Central Asia) journal. “The
Uzbek leader seeks Russia’s military assistance in the face of continuing
fighting in Afghanistan and lingering instability in Tajikistan, which is
destabilising the situation in Uzbekistan’s Fergana Valley populated mostly by
Tajiks.”

Mr. Yeltsin announced plans to sign a 10-year economic treaty with
Uzbekistan during his forthcoming visit to Tashkent in early October.