Qaşgar War

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Wars of Ill Bethisad
War logo2.gif
Name(s):Qaşgar War
Start of hostilities:9th July 1991
End of hostilities:1994
Winning side:Losing side:
Turkestan flag.PNG
Uyguristan 1.PNG
Major consequences:Qaşgar transferred from Uyguristan to Turkestan;
Dual citizenship for all Qaşgaris;
Hostility between the 2 nations

Following the downfall of the SNOR and the collapse of its CMAEC and Riga Pact alliances, many of the former Snorist nations suddenly erupted with problems that had been simmering under the lid of ultranationalist pro-Russian ideology. One of these was Qaşgar in Uyguristan.


Qaşgar had in the XIX Century been the capital of a de facto independent Uygur state, and was a centre of Uygur culture and nationalist feeling well into the XX Century. But with the re-establishment of effective Chinese rule in Xinjiang came a number of measures designed to minimise the importance of Qaşgar and quell separatist tendencies. One of these was the moving of the provincial capital to the more ethnically Han city of Ürümçi; another, more directed at Qaşgar, was an enforced resettlement of Tajiks, Kırğız and Qazaqs into the region and relocation of Uygurs to other parts of the country, in order to dilute the Uygur identity of the city.

By the end of the first half of the XX Century, the Chinese government had succeeded in transforming Qaşgar from the centre of Uygur identity into a multi-ethnic city with large Tajik and Kırğız populations. Even 40 years of Uygur nationalist pro-SNOR government did little to change this.

Lead up to War

In May 1991, in Uyguristan's post-Snorist experiment with representative democracy, the now mostly Tajik and Kırğız region of Qaşgar voted overwhelmingly for candidates favouring secession from Uyguristan and joining Turkestan.

The renamed and re-invented Tokuz Okuz, still in power in the rest of the country (as the People's Party of Uyguristan), had not taken the reports of separatist sentiment very seriously, and were now faced with Qaşgar province, once the centre of Uygur national feeling, declaring itself no longer a part of the Uygur state. On 1st June, the disbelieving government sent troops into the province to "pacify" the area.

This measure was the trigger that caused the whole situation to explode. Two weeks later, a band of Tajik and Kırğız guerrillas armed with Russian Kalaşnıkov rifles ambushed a unit of Uygur National Army troops on the road between Qaşgar and Jarqand. Taking the Army troops completely by surprise, they managed to defeat them and seize large amounts of the unit's heavier weaponry: anti-tank rockets, heavy espingols and anti-air weapons.

News of this spread rapidly through Uyguristan and Turkestan. In the town of Çilik, Qazaqstan, the majority-Uygur population rioted, killing 7 Qazaqs before the Turkestani Guards were able to quell the unrest. In the Uygur city of Jarqand, the Tajik minority declared their secession from Uyguristan along with their brothers in Qaşgar, and elsewhere in Uyguristan, Tajiks and Kırğız became targets for unhappy Uygur nationalists. The Uygur government declared a state of emergency and sent more troops to quash the unrest in their rebel province. The new Turkestani Ilxanate government, not wanting to appear weak before its neighbours, declared its intention to support and protect those wishing to join themselves to Turkestan, and, noting that the Uygur government appeared to have lost control of the situation, announced that it was preparing to send in its own troops to protect the civilian population.

With the situation on the ground worsening daily and the diplomatic climate turning chill, the League of Nations attempted to gather an emergency working-group comprising Uyguristan, Turkestan, Mongolia, Russia, Beihanguo and Tibet to find a non-violent solution to the problem. Meanwhile, Uygur diplomats responded to Turkestan's declarations by saying that any Turkestani troops entering Uyguristan would constitute an act of war, and quietly instructed its military to prepare to repel attack. Turkestan's ambassador Maqtamğulı Rahmon-ulı responded that the people of Qaşgar had renounced Uygur sovereignty and joined themselves to Turkestan; thus Turkestan had every right to send in observers to help arrange an orderly transfer of power.

The War

Turkestan sent its first troops into the Qaşgar province on 9th July 1991, initially as "observers" with qualified League approval. Apparently, though, the second message that instructed local Uygur commanders _not_ to attack Turkestani troops entering Uygur territory had not been fully disseminated, and with relations between the two countries already tense, the Uygur Army's local commanding officer Kärim Jınşau-ulı ordered his troops to open fire.

The Turkestanis, aware of the hostile diplomatic climate and prepared for treachery, responded with equal force, and battle was joined. Both sides recalled their ambassadors and withdrew from the League-sponsored talks in digust.

The Qaşgar War was an interesting conflict from a military point of view: almost a textbook exercise in tactics. Both militaries had essentially the same Russian-made equipment, though Uyguristan's was generally newer. The Turkestani self-designed aeroplanes were slightly superior to some of the Russian ones used by Uyguristan, but Uyguristan had more up-to-date ground-based equipment than Turkestan did. Turkestan had the advantage of numbers, but Uyguristan had the advantage of fighting on its own soil. It largely came down to a question of who had the abler commanders.

The Turkestanis' initial strategic objectives were twofold. Firstly, they needed to set up weapons drops to the Kırğız and Tajik rebels, and if possible, get undercover Turkestani military representatives to them. Secondly, they needed to gain control of the passes between Tajikistan, Kırğızstan and Uyguristan - the Kulma, Torğut, Bedel and İrkeştam Passes - so that they would have clear passage into the Qaşgar region without coming around the Ala Tau mountains and south past the Uygur cities of Ğulja and Aqsu, a route that would leave the Turkestani resupply corridors exposed to flanking attack.

The Uygur strategic objective remained fairly constant through most of the war: re-establish control in the Qaşgar province, and prevent further Turkestani interference.

The first moves in the conflict were made by both sides trying to seize full control of the passes. Turkestani forces managed to seize a march on the Uygur forces in the Bedel Pass, arriving at the pass in time to be fairly entrenched at the entrance to the Pass on the Uygur side by the time the Uygur army got there. Uygur forces were able to effectively seal the İrkeştam and outright seize the Kulma. At the Torğut Pass, however, both sides arrived at practically the same time, and there was a great battle. Turkestan eventually won the battle, and control of the Pass, but the Uygur Army gave a very good account of itself, especially with its NBM-2 armoured fighting vehicles, which in the mountainous terrain made short work of several of the Turkestani Army's older PBT-3s. Once the battle moved down out of the mountains, the Turkestani armoured personnel carriers were more evenly matched with the light tanks of the Uygur infantry, but in the mountains, it was a different story.

Conclusion of the War

By 1994, the situation had bogged down into a stalemate. Turkestan held most of the Qaşgar and Jarqand region, but Uyguristan refused to give up its claim to the territory. Both nations were tired of the war, which, although local in scope, was proving a drain on their resources that neither side could support. A cease-fire was negotiated through Russian mediation that, while not providing a long-term resolution to the situation, stopped the two sides from shooting at each other long enough for a compromise solution to be reached by the original League working group.

Hammering out the details of the solution took longer than most people expected. Uyguristan was determined to reclaim what it regarded as its sovereign territory, whereas Turkestan was anxious to appease its pan-Turkists by holding on to what it had gained. It was 1997 before the present solution was arrived at. Turkestan was permitted to hold on to what it had gained in the war, but all citizens of the Qaşgar province were granted full dual citizenship of Turkestan and Uyguristan. The original notion of a condominium was blocked for different reasons by the two combatant nations and Russia. Turkestan disliked the idea of a condominium because it would have been required to cede its own majority-Uygur border areas into the condominium. Uyguristan regarded Qaşgar province as theirs and no other's. And Russia had no good experience with condominium situations due to the unwieldy Ezo condominium between itself and Japan. The eventual solution did solve the problem, though relations between the two countries are still somewhat tense, and numerous Uygur nationalist political groups on both sides of the new border continue to call for the unconditional restoration of full Uygur sovereignty in the region.