Otan Bombing

by Nathan Hamm on 11/29/2004 · 2 comments

The blasts at the Almaty offices of Otan, Kazakhstan’s ruling party, have been confirmed to have been bombs (see yesterday’s post).

Agence France Press quoted police chief Major General Moldiar Orazaliev as saying that the police were currently “investigating several scenarios, the most likely one being hooliganism”. However, he did not rule out an attack by a rival political group.

Otan rules out hooliganism,* saying the blasts aim to disrupt Kazakh stability.

“These blasts did not only target Otan. This provocation also targeted our stability, the stability of our state,” Otan deputy chairman Amangeldy Yermegiyayev told a news conference.

“Probably certain persons and groups do not like the dynamic development of our state,” he said. He declined to elaborate.

Reuters goes on to say that the opposition fears that a crackdown is in the works, but doesn’t name names. Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan only has a story on the blasts, though there is much more (of all kinds of stuff) on the Russian version of the site.

Whatever happens, the investigation could be highly politicized. The president himself is at the reins. Considering his recent moves to starve his opponents, there will of course be speculation that he will use the bombing as a pretext to strengthen his position. Some may dredge up their Uzbekistan stories and accuse Nazarbayev of planning the bombings himself.

Keep in mind that Kazakhstan did recently break up an Al Qaeda linked terrorist cell. This same group, Jamoat, was behind the bombing in Uzbekistan this year, the latter of which did little damage except for at the Justice Ministry. Some speculate the attacks were hastily planned to coincide with the trial of the March bombing suspects. Granted the Almaty bombs were not suicide attacks like they Uzbek ones were, but they did cause very little damage and it’s certainly within the realm of possibility that they were a hastily planned response by another cell of Jamoat or their affiliates.

UPDATE: From EurasiaNet:

One Kazakhstani political analyst, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the bombs blast could be connected to events in Ukraine, where opposition protests, driven by charges of vote-rigging in the November 21 presidential run-off, are increasing the pressure on incumbent authorities to hold a fresh poll. The Kazakhstani government may be intent on intimidating its opponents in order to diminish the perceived risk of a repetition of the Ukrainian scenario in Kazakhstan. “We ought to look at it [the Almaty bombing] within the context of broader developments,” the expert said. “The [Ukrainian] opposition is close to bringing about regime change [in Kyiv]. … Developments [in Kyiv] could urge some elements within the [Kazakhstani] government to organize such an action [the Almaty bombing] in order to justify an increase of political pressure.”

Personally, I think my Jamoat idea holds more water, but…

UPDATE II: Joining the OTB Traffic Jam

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Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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