The IWPR has another article about the current situation in Kyrgyzstan entitled “End of the Beginning.” Its basic premise is that what we see today in Kyrgyzstan is no more than “the fall-out from the change of regime in March 2005, which produced what one might term a wave of democratisation.” The article makes a number of good points, and it is always good to be as positive as possible, but the writer’s analysis breaks down at several points.
For example, while I agree that the complete “Afghanification” of Kyrgyzstan is unlikely, the fact is, large numbers of non-Kyrgyz citizens report having purchased weapons in the last 6-8 months, and there are numerous accounts of old AK-47s from Afghanistan for sale in the South for 4,000 som (just under $100).
And in suggesting that Kyrgyzstan is not likely to move into such a massively destructive conflict it argues:
“And even when such a conflict arises, the participants will only fight to the bitter end if they feel that there is no other way, and that all attempts at compromise have been exhausted. This was shown by the recent clash between Kyrgyz and ethnic Dungans in a village in the Chui region.”
It fails to mention that the conflict only ended when a 250-strong contingent from the NSS arrived and used tear-gas to disperse the fighting. Hardly a case of compromise.
Another incidence of this overly optimistic tone is found here:
“The ability to arrive at mutually beneficial arrangements is traditional to Kyrgyz society. This characteristic was shown both in the ease with which the country got through the difficult period of the July presidential election…””
Based on personal observations in the South, getting through the presidential elections in July with peace was more a matter of the high expectations that everyone placed on the Bakiev-Kulov tandem, rather than a society-wide ability to negotiate “mutually beneficial arrangements.”
The author continues by saying:
It thus seems more appropriate to see these conflicts [among the elites] as the unavoidable, and even positive, concomitants of social change…The positive aspect is that people in Kyrgyzstan are learning the art of living in a situation in which multiple interests collide.
Yes, the people of Kyrgyzstan are learning to live with the chaos of a power vacuum, but I seriously doubt that anyone besides the political elite and mafia consider it positive.
If Kyrgyzstan today is an example of a “wave of democratization,” then one can understand why most regional leaders are avoiding this Western idea like the plague.