Saturday, April 01, 2006

Central Asia Notes

Two articles in RFE-RL's new Central Asia report caught my interest. The first deals with the idea that Uzbekistan is the region's major source of instability. The theory is that because the Uzbek govenment is repressive yet has a weakening grip, it creates turbulence which can spill across the porous borders. Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, each of which have experienced their own internal issues in the past few years, are seen as particularly vulnerable, which a decline in Western influence with Tashkent has led Russia and Kazakhstan to take more of a leading role in trying to influence developments there.

The second article concerned the first anniversary of the "Tulip Revolution" which deposed Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev. These events may be linked to problems elsewhere, as regimes such as Uzbekistan cracked down on free expression in their own territory shortly after Akayev's ouster. Kyrgyztstan, however, has yet to consolidate any sort of democracy, as Kurmanbek Bakiev, not entirely an outsider to the old regime, continues to seek a strong Presidency in the face of opposition from the Parliament which won a problematic election last February. Meanwhile, organized crime runs rampant, as I suspect it did under Akayev, as well. I think the country's constitutional questions need at least to be referred to a referendum, as no one in power has the credibility to win the public's trust.


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