Turkmenistan Poses for World Stage. Stumbles on Catwalk.

by Asher Kohn on 5/26/2010 · 5 comments

Well, word has come to Berdimuhamedov and his inner circle that Turkmenistan needs multiple-party politics in order to be Taken Seriously by The West or something like that. Eternal Remont, among others, is not impressed with Berdimuhamedov’s decision.

In a nut shell, it seems the two-party system will be the existing party, just in two branches. The branches won’t be in opposition to each other at all. Just complimentary really.

So even if the new party is more than just window dressing, it is being created solely as a Agricultural Party, it is much more of an Agricultural Department of the current Democratic Party than it is a sort of current iteration of the BANU or other such Balkan parties built on agrarian principles. Daikhan will exist “to explain and implement the state agricultural policy,” which doesn’t sound like a loyal opposition in any sense of the term.

Chronicles of Turkmenitan’s Farid Tubahtullin goes on to note that Berdimuhamedov’s good friend Dadaev will likely have a large role in Daikhan. Tubahtullin also goes on to compare Turkmenistan to Uzbekistan uncharitably. I’m a bit more optimistic than Tubahtullin, but then again, I’m receiving information second- or third-hand from him. At least the creation of Daikhan shows a change of focus from an energy-based economy and at least purports to defer to the will of pastoralists and farmers. Of course, putting a chicken-farmer like Dadaev in charge means that it’ll just be a way for agribusiness and cotton produces to stand on somewhat more equal footing with the gas sector, and welcome in Monsantos along with Gazproms. Either way, its diversification for a leader who’s been adept in playing one foreign interest off another.

And all the while, the creation of a “Farmer’s Party” in 2010 does smack of being out-of-touch on the world stage. If Berdimuhamedov is creating this party to appeal to the west, it still seems to appeal to the Borat-as-Central-Asia motif that gets pasted on the region. I almost feel like they should just create a “America-hatin’ Islamicists Party” and “Crippling Misogyny Party” just to complete the image. I bet someone is already working on Eastward to Tatary II mentioning how the moving of the Arch of Neutrality (note the referring to Niyazov as a “cult leader” and the quoting of Ozymandias, respectively…and last I heard the Arch is still in the city center. This still true?) and the creation of Daikhan represents a Bold New Shift in Central Asian statecraft.

It isn’t.

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This post was written by...

– author of 33 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Asher is currently in law school at Washington University in Saint Louis. He is studying natural resource law in Central Asia and its intersection with different theories of jurisprudence. Besides Registan.net, Asher has written for The Los Angeles Times, Run of Play, İstanbul Altı, and Istanbul Eats. He has worked with the Natural Resource Law Center and the International Crisis Group, where he studied legal and political traction over a variety of issues.

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Nathan Groth May 26, 2010 at 5:57 pm

I was just in Turkmenistan last week and there certainly didn’t seem to be any excitement about the formation of Daikhan. I agree with you in regards to the formation of the party as another example of Turkmenistan’s attempt to shift towards a diversified economy. For another side of that I’d point you toward their wallet-draining Caspian sea tourism monstrosity, <a href="http://www.turkmenistaninfo.ru/?page_id=6&type=article&elem_id=page_6/magazine_83/716&lang_id=en&quot; target="_blank" Awaza. The rationale that I heard repeatedly was that “it worked for Dubai”, apparently forgetting that, you know, Dubai is now broke…
The magnificent Arch Of Neutrality is still there as well. I can’t wait for it to be moved so that the commemorative AoN snow globe I bought can skyrocket in collectible value…

Nathan Groth May 26, 2010 at 10:03 pm

Blah, sorry, poor HTML tagging, let me try a second link

michaelhancock May 29, 2010 at 9:37 am

Here’s a crazy idea – spend some of that money is a massive public-works project that will actually help the country. Why not upgrade the Garagum/Karakum Canal, the man-made river it took the Soviets 30 years to build across the desert. Maybe add a concrete lining, upgrade the feeder canals and all that stuff. The statistics vary on water loss, but the optimistic figure is only 50% of water lost on the way.

And maybe start growing more fruit and vegetables more suitable to the climate? Since profit for the state is clearly less important to the leaders of Turkmenistan (experience being my only teacher) maybe they’ll consider making changes for the good of the country?

Samantha May 30, 2010 at 7:34 pm

Multi-party system in Turkmenistan? Ha! Good luck with that.


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