The Turkestan Civil War had a variety of causes, and it is impossible to attribute the war to any one of them. The Democratic Unity Coalition (DUC) - a group of secular, pro-West, centrist parties - had dominated Turkestani politics since its unification, and the political stagnation was just the beginning. Independence movements had emerged all over the country, with different states having their own reasons to want out of the union. Azerbaijan had joined a matter of months before Turkestan experienced a recession in 2005, and quickly began to reconsider their decision. Uzbeks claimed they were better off alone, as their prosperous economy was weakened by by the poverty of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. The DUC's pro-Turkic rhetoric excluded Tajiks - who were Iranian - and Kyrgyz people felt they were excluded regardless, and that most of the decisions were made by Kazakhs and Uzbeks.
At first these movements were disunited, and were no threat to the incumbent DUC in the upcoming 2007 elections, but events would ensure that this would not remain the case. In 2006 an international argument waged throughout the Islamic world over the issue of LGBT rights. Moderate states like Afghanistan and the Arab Federation insisted that the Organisation of the Islamic Conference change its policy on homosexuality to be neutral. When their requests were returned with insults, they withdrew from the OIC, prompting a number of other Muslim states to do the same - with Turkestan among them.
Traditionalist Muslims in Turkestan were outraged, and protestors quickly swamped the streets. The DUC ignored them, meeting their outrage with calm defiance and riot police. The rhetoric of the Islamists and the Independence movements merged - "The federal government has gone against the will of Allah and the Uzbek people!", "This would never happen in an independent Kyrgyzstan!" - and a coalition was soon formed.
The Coalition for Justice in Turkestan (CJT) was set up purely to offer the DUC real opposition in the 2007 elections. In all previous elections the DUC had gotten over 85% of the vote for both the federal legislature and the presidency - this time it would be different. This time, they only got over 65% of the votes for the legislature - more than enough to control it - and over 70% of the votes for the presidency. The CJT was displeased, to say the least. Accusations of vote rigging were quickly and frequently made in the next few weeks - many of which were corroborated by international observers, who noted a lot of procedural misconduct and voter fraud in areas where separatist and Islamist sentiment was high.
Once again protests broke out in the streets - protests that quickly became riots. Riots that quickly became battles. Battles that quickly became war.
At first the DUC government held the upper hand; the army was under their control, and quickly wiped out whatever conventional forces the CJT had and occupied the rebellious regions of the country. But the Islamists and Nationalists were not going to give up so easily. For two years they harassed the government troops - attacking military bases, ambushing convoys, destroying infrastructure.
The DUC was at a loss - they could no longer fight a conventional war, and the West and their Islamic allies were looking to them to do something to end the fighting. But negotiation would mean the end of Turkestan, so the DUC got increasing desperate. In 2010, as the war entered its third year, the DUC adopted a new tactic.
Helicopters and airplanes were unleashed en mass - targeting the remote valleys in the south-east of the country where the rebels held out. Their aim was not to find and destroy the rebels, though, but to destroy their support. Vital irragation systems were bombed, farmland was strewn was anti-personnel mines, and hundreds of villages wiped off the map as the DUC disregarded their morality in favour of victory
For months an extended democidal campaign was waged in Turkestan, until word leaked. The world had been worried when the war broke out, but had become disinterested as it went on and on. Now all eyes turned to Turkestan and saw exactly what was happening. International condemnation came swiftly. Formerly only radical Islamic states - like the Islamic State of the Caucasus, Iran, and Saudi Arabia - had supported the rebels, but now funding and arms were flown in from all over the world.
Though the rebels were formerly united as a political organisation, they fought their war as separate, diverse units with no single command structure. With no single organisational head to speak to, the world had to rely on Iran and Afghanistan to relay their funds and supplies to the rebels - a right both states jealously guarded. Though both countries rerouted supplies to a variety of different rebel groups; Iran's Islamist government made sure Mujahideen groups got the lion's share of their supplies, whilst Afghanistan made sure the more moderate groups were more than well-supplied.
Along with munitions, supplies, and equipment, people too swarmed into Turkestan. Muslims from all over the world flocked to fight in the Turkestani Mujahideen. Turkmen and Azerbaijanis from Iran had been trickling in since the start of the war, but with the recent developments they began to flow. Uzbeks and Tajiks from Afghanistan had formerly been prevented from aiding their brothers, but when the Afghanistani government decided to favour the rebels, they were at last unleashed.
Politically isolated and unwilling to compromise, the DUC elected to hold on - to relentlessly attack the rebels as they had already been doing in hopes that they could not outlast them. The rebels had grown wise to their tactics, however, and with advanced anti-aircraft weaponry were now more than able to threaten the government's airpower.
A mutiny of over half of the government troops in Azerbaijan signalled the beginning of the end. They quickly joined forces with the Mujahideen and forced out the government's remaining troops. In Uzbekistan - where the fighting was fiercest - the rebels elsewhere began to push back the government's forces, capturing important cities like Bukhara and Samarkand. The number of attacks per month on government troops doubled, as did casualties, and for the first time the rebels believed that not only could they outlast the government, but that they could defeat them.
It would not come to that, however, as the Turkestani army soon turned against their DUC leaders. The tides of war were now flowing against them, thousands of troops had defected or been captured since the reality of the war came to light, and there was no way Turkestan was going to stay united through anything other than force of arms. The army was unwilling to be the puppet of an unreasonable, dictatorial government - so if they wouldn't end the war, they would.
Army generals attempted a coup in late 2011 - most DUC leaders were able to flee into exile, but whatever remained of the government was taken apart, and a military junta put in place. The war was over.
The story of Turkestan does not end there, though, and in some places the Civil War was merely the prelude to a new, bloody chapter in human history.
This is another entry for the MotF contest over on AH.com, set in the same world as my previous Afghanistan and Idel-Ural maps. This one was a bit rushed - I had originally intended to make an image with two maps; one showing casualties, and one showing the de facto zones of control after the end of the civil war, but I didn't have time for that. This definitely isn't my best work, partially because my laptop's screen is broken, so I've got it hooked up to my TV which distorts the image a bit, but I'm still proud of it.
The title comes from a reported exchange between Caliph Umar and one of his followers - he is reported to have said "O Muslims, straighten me with your hands when I go wrong", to which one of his followers replied "If you are not straightened by our hands we will use our sword to straighten you!", which Umar apparently thought was a pretty good method to maintain political accountability.