By Steven Eke
BBC regional analyst
For years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Uzbekistan was seen as an impoverished, corrupt and repressive state ruled by a strongman president, Islam Karimov.
Uzbekistan's record on human rights has been sidelined
But concerns about human rights and the lack of democracy have been sidelined, as the US-led "war on terror" has transformed the country into one of Washington's closest allies.
The reports coming from Uzbekistan of violent attacks on police, shoot-outs and a harsh security clampdown will pose difficult questions for Western governments.
Uzbekistan last saw comparable bombings in 1999. The country's president, Islam Karimov, blamed those on Islamic radicals and Uzbek courts imprisoned thousands of alleged sympathisers.
Political opposition is not tolerated in Uzbekistan. The media is not free. The UN says torture is "systematic".
Nevertheless, after the attacks of 11 September 2001, Uzbekistan was placed firmly on the map as a US ally.
The Uzbek government made its airspace and military facilities available to US forces, facilitating the operation to remove the Taleban in neighbouring Afghanistan.
Uzbekistan has since become an important strategic outpost for the United States.
President Bush has noticeably left Uzbekistan out of speeches condemning repressive regimes.
There is talk of reducing financial assistance to Uzbekistan but, so far, little real action.
Western analysts believe that, whatever the relationship between events in Uzbekistan and the wider threat of Islamist organisations, economic discontent and repression mean that Uzbekistan has become a breeding ground for political extremism.
Uzbekistan's allies will now be hoping that the country's government does not use the current unrest to launch an even harsher crackdown on dissent.