25 March 2005
The Kyrgyz revolution...
First, a little background...
Excerpts from "The Dust of Empire: The Race for Mastery in the Asian Heartland" by Karl E Meyer, 2003, by the Century Foundation:
[p. 187] The rise of Askar Akayev in Kyrgyzstan is an anomaly in the region's post-Soviet era. He is the intellectual, the liberal, the putative democrat, the convert to free market ideology, or so he has struck his Western admirers.
[p. 188] From the moment of independence, President Akayev sought to break irrevocably with the Soviet system. He decreed the privatization of state farms whose profits fell below 15 percent, he welcomed foreign investors, he gave tenants title to their apartments, he named Westerners to key economic jobs, and he invited the International Monetary Fund to outline an economic plan, which he put into effect in 1993. Five years later, Kyrgyzstan became the first Central Asian state to join the World Trade organization.
[p.188] Akayev's economic hopes failed to materialize. Foreign investors were more generous with applause than with money, partly owing to the logistical difficulties of doing business in landlocked Kyrgyzstan. ... As the number of jobless grew, so did political opposition ....
[p. 189] The bigger clouds over the 'Switzerland of Central Asia' are America's military involvement and the perennial questions of nepotism and succession. Overnight, following September 11, Washington turned to Bishkek for assistance in the looming Afghan campaign. Akayev agreed to provide an air base for two thousand U.S. and allied troops, and in return he became an honored guest at the White House. The fear among Kyrgyz democrats is that if the base becomes permanent (as also seems likely in Uzbekistan) , the host government may view it as an immunizing shield. They worry that Washington will brush aside allegations of corruption, presidential nepotism and the muzzling of what has been a relatively free press. The New York-based Committee to Protect journalists has already listed Kyrgyzstan as one of the ten worst countries to work in as a journalist. And as visitors to Bishkek quickly discover, the prime focus for political gossip is the affluence of the president's family.
[p.190] One suspects that President Akayev is being equally candid when he denies having any interest in continuing his rule under a new constitutional arrangement after his second presidential term expires in 2005. Critics fear that the region's only quasi-democrat has turned quasi-authoritarian, fears quickened by his eldest son Aidar's dynastic marriage in 1998 to Aliya Nazarbayev, the youngest daughter of the Kazakh president (though the couple later separated). It would be a pity if Central Asia's most promising leader should dwindle into yet another decrepit liberator-for-life.
Not surprisingly, the neo-cons in Washington fully supported Akayev as a willing collaborator of the American empire. See for example, Baktybek Abdrisaev's lecture to the neo-conservative Heritage Foundation:
U.S.–Kyrgyz Strategic Cooperation
"If we look at what was done during this uneasy transition period in the sphere of economics, I would like to underline that, among other things, Kyrgyzstan was the first country in Central Asia to introduce its own currency; Kyrgyzstan from the very beginning was an active partner in world economic and financial organizations like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund; Kyrgyzstan was one of the first countries in the region which established modern investment laws; Kyrgyzstan was the first country which introduced private land ownership. And it was not a surprise that Kyrgyzstan in 1998 (only a year and a half after submitting documents to Geneva) became a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), and in 2000 Kyrgyzstan was granted PNTR (permanent normal trade relations) status with United States. According to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, at present Kyrgyzstan is the country in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) that has undertaken the most market economic reform. All these results we achieved due to a strong commitment and determination on the part of Kyrgyz leaders and to invaluable assistance from the United States.
"The United States provided both financial and moral assistance to Kyrgyzstan in building the foundation for a modern economy. Our economic and investment laws were written with the help of American specialists. With the assistance of the U.S. Agency for International Development and other American agencies Kyrgyzstan implemented various projects in the economic area that taught our entrepreneurs how to do business with the outside world. If we look at all these developments and facts, we clearly see how much a small and young Kyrgyzstan could achieve in just a little bit more than 10 years since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Kyrgyzstan has actively and aggressively pursued all these liberal policies because we believed that the sooner we adopted them, the sooner we would pass this unpredictable transition period. We believed that only a liberal and open economy, free entrepreneurship, would be the solid foundation for a successful long-term development. And as a result, until 1998 Kyrgyzstan’s development was moving very rapidly.
"In addition to the economic aspect of our bilateral cooperation, we also certainly need to mention another area where the September 11 events brought some dynamism. That is our cooperation in the sphere of security and the war on terrorism. There has been close military cooperation between our nations since our independence. Kyrgyzstan established very fruitful relations with the Pentagon, the Central Command, and the National Guard of Montana. Our young officers have learned English in the U.S. Kyrgyzstan and the U.S. cooperated closely in the framework of the "Partnership for Peace" program and Central Asian Battalion. American and Kyrgyz military have conducted joint bilateral and multilateral military exercises. The National Guard of Kyrgyzstan has conducted joint military exercises in Montana with the National Guard of this state, during which they shared expertise in conducting military actions in mountainous areas. This expertise and experience were very instrumental in allowing our army to be able to defeat very strong groups of Islamic militants. As you know, in 1999 and 2000 Islamic militants of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IDU) invaded our territory on their way to Uzbekistan. During that harsh time, the U.S. Administration was very quick to provide us with the military assistance which was so needed to defeat our enemies. The Kyrgyz Army was given radios and other valuable military equipment.
"That is why I would say that the deployment of American and coalition forces in Kyrgyzstan was a natural and expected move because we fight a common enemy, which continues to pose a threat to stability and peace in Central Asia and our goals to create open and democratic society in our country. This military cooperation reached a unprecedented level, and we know that we can effectively combat international terrorism only by joint efforts.
"Kyrgyzstan is ready to continue these joint efforts in combating international terrorism, in bringing the lasting peace and security in Afghanistan, which unfortunately because of the world’s negligence and ignorance served as a haven for terrorism. We will support any American policy toward uniting Afghanistan and turning it into a secure and prosperous place. We will provide any assistance within our abilities to resolve the problem of Afghanistan finally."
Of course now that Akayev has been ousted by the people, the Heritage Foundation has quickly changed its tune and rejected Akayev, he is no longer useful and therefore can be betrayed. There is lesson here for the other dictators that are currently enjoying U.S. aid and support, from Musharif in Pakistan to the rest of the Central Asian "presidents". See for example:
Helping Kyrgyzstan’s Democratic Revolution
"The people of Kyrgyzstan have spoken—and acted. On Thursday, they stormed presidential headquarters and government buildings in the capital Bishkek in response to rigged parliamentary elections, and the government appears to be losing its grip on power. The Supreme Court has since annulled the elections, and the country is likely to return to the polls shortly. Still, Kyrgyzstan may face the prospects of civil war and possible disintegration if President Askar Akaev does not resign. In turn, turmoil in Kyrgyzstan could bring inter-ethnic and political violence to its larger neighbors, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, and lead to their destabilization. To prevent this outcome and win another victory for democracy, the U.S. and its allies convince President Akaev to step down—and soon.
"Kyrgyzstan’s neighbors, the United States, European Union, OSCE, United Nations, and possibly Russia, must convince Akaev to resign and help the opposition find a quick and bloodless way out of the current crisis."
So, the question is whether the revolutionaries in Kyrgyzstan will declare their independence and create their own free and sovereign state, or whether they'll be seduced by U.S. money into staying a willing collaborator with the empire.