Rumors of a Sickly President

by Nathan Hamm on 1/7/2008 · 7 comments

googoosha.jpgRumors are again flying around that Karimov is seriously ill (translatified version from Google). This time, the source is the always reliable Muhammad Solih, who says that Karimov will head to Germany for medical treatments, that he may have to transfer some powers to subordinates, and that Uzbek officials are girding themselves to battle for the scraps left by a president dies this year, as they hope he does.

The more things change… right?

But Solih has one thing kind of right. Karimov’s reelection seems to have gotten people thinking about the future. Either by shadowy intrigue or by natural causes, someday Karimov will no longer rule Uzbekistan. The president might be trying to plan a transition himself. Some think the charming young woman with a pop-music career (and new website) at right will take over, though one is hard-pressed to find any analysts who think this is a choice any powerbroker sees as optimal. (But then again, Karimov’s selection as leader of the UzSSR can be seen as the “least sub-optimal” choice for the powerbrokers at the time.) reports on widespread speculation of an “Eastern-style Russian scenario” with power shared by a president and prime minister. Probably much more likely is that Karimov, who I would guess is healthy enough for a nearly-70 year old head of state, is not doing too much planning for post-Karimov Uzbekistan. And even if he were, I expect that the one thing about his decisions most likely to resemble Putin’s is that he will keep everyone in the dark until it is convenient for him to announce his plans.

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– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

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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Michael Hancock January 7, 2008 at 4:02 pm

The Googoosha site is just priceless. It’s amazing how a little PR can whitewash all those accusations she’s garnered over the years. I’m still kind of hoping that someone’s gonna find a way to serve that arrest warrant from New Jersey…

Michael Hancock January 7, 2008 at 5:08 pm

Did anyone else notice that the Uzbek portion is just a copy of the Russian portion? I’m sure the Uzbeks would love to find symbolism in that!

Laurence January 8, 2008 at 1:41 pm

Nathan, I’ll defer to your election analysis above all others. I was certainly wrong about a Putin-style scenario the first time. BTW, any ideas on American presidential contenders and their Central Asia policies?

jonathan p January 8, 2008 at 1:49 pm

Pppfffwwwwitht!!! (cough-cough) Dude!! Laurence, why’d you have to go and write that?!? The thought that American presidential candidates might have Central Asia policies just made me spit my tea all over the keyboard! Now I’ve got a giant mess here…

Nathan January 8, 2008 at 2:23 pm

Hey, it’s not too weird a question. Two of the candidates who’ve already dropped out have policy positions on Central Asia. In fact, I’ve ripped on both Tom Tancredo and Joe Biden for their positions. And I stand by what I said at the end of the Biden post; don’t expect much attention for Central Asia in the next administration.

McCain talked a lot about Central Asia for a brief period of time, but his positions seemed to me to be fairly ad hoc echoes of Rep. Chris Smith’s stances.

Frank January 8, 2008 at 3:02 pm

Speaking as a witness to the recent caucus madness, I will be very surprised if a stand-alone Central Asian policy comes up in this election. I asked a few candidates (Richardson, Biden, Edwards, Clinton, and Giuliani) about how to promote open elections and mentioned Central Asia as an example region. Most took that as an opportunity to discuss Pakistan. Nobody mentioned Uzbekistan (this was all in October-November) or Kazakhstan and the OSCE. Biden drew comparisons to Ukraine and Georgia in his response.

That several candidates glommed on to Pakistan – not Afghanistan or any other ‘stans – when they heard “Central Asia” is telling. My bet is U.S-Central Asia policy from 2009-2013 will stem from who’s named Secretary of State, not who’s in the White House.

Dolkun January 9, 2008 at 2:55 am

… but one thing on U.S. policy is of interest, if Googoosha gets the nod, and I wouldn’t underestimate her political abilities and look forward to what would undoubtedly be the most exciting president in the FSU. She’s under ind*****nt in the U.S., so unless something changes she’ll be skipping her next class reunion.

And thanks for the website link. It’s nice to see how people retain their sunny outlook even in tough times.

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