Ethnic tensions still simmering in Kyrgyzstan

November 17, 2011

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(AP/Vladimir Voronin)
An Uzbek man builds a new house outside the southern city of Osh, Kyrgyzstan.

Last year in June, riots broke out in the city of Osh in southwestern Kyrgyzstan. Ethnic Kyrgyz targeted the city’s minority Uzbek population, destroying Uzbek businesses and homes and killing an estimated 2,000 people. 

A year and a half later, tensions remain high between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks, who make up about 15 percent of the Central Asian country’s population. These tensions are one of many concerns for Kyrgyzstan’s new president-elect, Almazbek Atambayev. Also among them is the unpopular U.S. airbase outside the country’s capital, Bishkek, which is crucial to the American military effort in Afghanistan.

We get an update on Kyrgyzstan from Joshua Foust, a contributor to The Atlantic who blogs about Central Asia at