Karimov, Nazarbaev “Worried”

by Laurence on 3/30/2005 · 4 comments

Channelnewsasia.com

Bakiyev, meanwhile, told the Kommersant newspaper that the Kyrgyz revolution took place for domestic reasons and without outside help, and should be viewed separately from the revolts in Georgia and Ukraine.

He said, however, he had held telephone conversations with Uzbek President Islam Karimov and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazabayev since taking charge and admitted that those two Soviet-era leaders, both heading authoritarian regimes, were “worried”.

“I can’t deny it, what happened in our country doesn’t make them happy,” Bakiyev said.


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{ 4 comments }

Curzon March 30, 2005 at 10:50 am

I’m worried too. Nazarbayev seems benign, Karimov is clearly a tyrant, but no matter how unhelpful and reactionary their regimes may be, what would replace them?

Consider, for example, Kaplan’s take on the Saudi Regime:

The Saudi regime is probably the most unhelpful, reactionary regime that one can imagine, except for any other that could come into being.

That lesson is universally applicable, with the Saudis just being one great case in point. First ask: is there a viable alternative?

Additionally, I maintain my original skepticism about the long-term success of Kyrgystan’s so-called “Tulip Revolution.”

Nathan March 30, 2005 at 11:28 am

That lesson is universally applicable, with the Saudis just being one great case in point. First ask: is there a viable alternative?

There are, we just don’t know who they are right now. The problem I have with the question is that it’s easy to misapply. Saudi Arabia is entirely different from post-Soviet societies. The lingering effects of Soviet meritocracy (well, a sort of meritocracy anyway) still work and no post-Soviet society is so thoroughly ruled by one family. There are ways for outsiders to become elites, but they must project an image of being entirely in line with the elites. So, things may appear monolithic, but they aren’t.

One could easily say that there were no real communists left in the USSR there at the end. When the whole thing fell apart, there were plenty of elites who were able to competently lead and went off in their own directions. I would imagine much the same thing would happen in Kazakhstan or Uzbekistan. It’s pretty much happening in Kyrgyzstan (though somewhat chaotically). You can actually see the factions in Kazakhstan. They’re invisible in Uzbekistan. (I know in Uzbekistan’s case, there’s some suspicion that the most likely alternatives would be the different security chiefs which would usher in more of the same.)

Governments like this have a way of making it appear as if the only skilled people around are loyal to the regime. Part of their pitch is “we’re the best there is.” They might be right, but they very well could be wrong.

Curzon March 30, 2005 at 12:01 pm

I certainly appreciate the perspective your insight coming from real residence in Central Asia. I just don’t buy it. I’d wager than Nazerbaev dies in office of natural causes, and Karimov may meet a stickier end at, as you note, then hand of his generals. But successful democracy? We shall see, but you know where my bets are placed.

Nathan March 30, 2005 at 12:46 pm

I didn’t say democracy, just alternative. There are real alternatives, many of whom may be more democratic.

I shy away from making wagers because determining the odds in a closed society are pretty hard. Pressure has a way of building up without being noticed. Remember that the learned hands were saying that the USSR could go on forever pretty much up to the end.

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