Friday, March 25, 2005

The Kyrgyz Situation

     Important things to know include some background information. Map of Kyrgyzstan (notice the strange arrows, showing patches Uzbekistan inside Kyrgyz territory).  Also important to note is the long Kyrgyz border with China. 

     Kyrgyz, like Uzbek, Kazakh, and Turkmen, are speakers of an Altaic language, specifically, the Turkic sub-family.

     The country is home to some regional (North vs South) strife.  The opposition are almost all from Southern areas. 

     The country is home to some religious strife, pitting the secular versus the Islamists, the main underground group is known as Hizb-ut-Tahrir.  The Islamist support is also in the South.  I haven't read anything that directly links the political opposition with the Islamists.

     The main players are former President Ayakev, coup-leader Bayikev, and new President Kadyrbekov (although Bayikev reported he was President).  Ayakev was known as the most liberal leader of the Five-Stans, but that is not saying much.  Ayakev instituted many free market reforms.  The economy is very bad now.  I can hear free market critics already saying "It would have been fine if only they'd done more."

     Although its obvious that Ayakev was no saint, he was the guy who appointed Bayikev to the Prime Minsiter's post in 2000.  Bayikev appears to have lost his election bid to parliament, and things have been getting hairy ever since.  Kadyrbekov was banned from a run-off election based on alleged fraud on his part.    Details on the protests and pictures available here.  Ayakev is criticized in this older Human Rights Watch report.

     I'm partial to the Swiss as reporters.  This peice from the usually very fact-based Swiss Info includes the following, perhaps telling, comments, in comparing the CIA-inspired coups in Geogia (Shaskavili) and Ukraine(Yuschenko).

Only Kyrgyzstan's revolution was violent and only its opposition government immediately won the backing of Moscow which once ruled the region.
And, unlike the new leaders in Georgia and Ukraine who have irked Moscow, Kyrgyzstan's opposition has shown no interest in shifting Westwards away from Russian influence.
Most of the opposition leaders were themselves top officials at some time during Akayev's 14-year rule.

     One last thought.  Ayakev was thinking of doing more trade with China, since Russia has signed on, and the official US position seems to be favorable, there is the off chance this was a joint anti-China move.

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