By Thomas McCray

Concise, but full of info, those basic volumes are introductions to trendy countries of the realm.

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Finally, in 1881, the Turin Basin’s last Turkic-Mongol resistance was destroyed at Goek Tepe, slightly south of today’s Uzbekistan. Tsar Alexander II promptly organized the greater basin into one Russian Turkistan. He intended to subdue Russia’s old enemy, the Muslim Mongols; prevent any British advances into Russia’s growing regional sphere of influence; and develop and control a valuable trade in cotton. It is noteworthy that this last goal was sharpened by the Civil War in the United States (1861 –1865).

Raw cotton from Uzbekistan clothed the Russian and Soviet armies for the better part of a century. q 2/12/04 3:05 PM Page 63 Uzbekistan’s Economy grew, Uzbekistan’s cotton fields were constantly expanded, and new lands were pressed into service. Uzbekistan’s controlling resource, water, made it all possible. Water installations were steadily rebuilt, enlarged, and extended so that in the 1970s, water developments in Uzbekistan consumed most of the water budget for the entire USSR. Moreover, such large-scale water diversions fostered rivalries between upstream clans and midstream clans, with downstream groups increasingly denied adequate and clean water.

In this way, it was thought, religious ties would become little more than a bit of folklore in the average Uzbekistani’s life experience. Between 1928 and 1933, mosques all across central Asia were closed. Their number fell from 26,000 to fewer than 100. Muslim Uzbeks were drafted into the army, but they were rarely trusted in important positions and usually spent their time performing free labor elsewhere in the USSR. Limited numbers of Muslim clerics were allowed to practice and write, but their work was monitored and edited by state authorities so that it painted the Soviet Union as a friend of Islam.

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