Kyrgyzstan's provisional government is partially mobilizing its armed forces, raising the possibility of the military's attempted intervention in civil violence that has devastated southern regions of the Central Asian nation. Some experts are interpreting the move as a sign of desperation.
At least 97 people have died in inter-ethnic violence that erupted late on June 10, the AKIpress news agency reported. The center of Osh, Kyrgyzstan's second largest city, has suffered extensive damage from arson and looting. The focus of mob violence was reportedly shifting to villages surrounding Osh on June 13. In Jalal-abad, meanwhile, firefights were said to be raging, causing heavy casualties mainly among Uzbeks.
With police and Interior Ministry forces unable to stop the death and destruction, provisional leaders on June 12 turned to the armed forces. A decree ordered partial mobilization to commence on June 13, with able-bodied men under 50 called upon to report for active duty.
"The partial mobilization started on June 13 and is obligatory for people liable for military service, and who have served in the army for more than one year and who don't have health problems. Other people, and those who are on alternative military service, can sign up voluntarily," Viktor Moiseev, a military logistics official in Bishkek's October District told EurasiaNet on June 13.
"We haven't sent anyone to the South yet," Moiseev continued. "We will just keep them informed and register them. But if we get the command, we will send them to the South. There are a lot of volunteers who want to help the country in this difficult time."
Historically speaking, the deployment of a country's military to intervene in a civil crisis carries extreme risks, including raising the chance of the imposition of a military dictatorship.
The partial mobilization raises concerns that the interim government is now in a desperate position. "It seems to be another indication that the interim government is running short on options," Paul Quinn-Judge, the Central Asia project director for the International Crisis Group, said.
Quinn-Judge and other experts questioned whether mobilized troops would have either the training or motivation to confront the challenges posed by inter-ethnic fighting. In short, sending in the military could make the situation worse.
In a statement released late on June 12, the Kyrgyz interim government warned of severe regional repercussions if the violence wasn't contained quickly. Moscow has declined to act on a Kyrgyz provisional government request to deploy a peacekeeping force, pending a meeting of the Collective Security Treaty Organization's Security Council on June 14.
The US Embassy in Bishkek says American diplomats have not received a request - nor would they assent to any such request - to dispatch US military assistance to Kyrgyzstan.