Nazarbayev Saving It, Continued

by Joshua Foust on 12/29/2011 · 6 comments

RFERL’s Kazakh service notes an important development in the Zhanaozen massacre:

Kazakhstan’s Prosecutor-General’s Office has launched a criminal investigation into actions taken by police during riots earlier this month in the western city of Zhanaozen that left more than a dozen protesters dead.

Nurdaulet Suindikov, a spokesman for the office, told reporters in Astana that the investigation would seek to determine whether individual police abused their powers by firing on protesters with the intention of killing them.

This is, if you recall, precisely what I said Nazarbayev needs to do to stem public outrage over the killings. Even if the punishment to the police is limited to a few symbolic prosecutions, that will in all likelihood be enough to halt any attempts to convert this horrible tragedy into a regime-ending event.

Former ambassador to Kazakhstan William Courtney sees this is much more apocalyptic terms. While he is correct to note that Zhanaozen will not soon be forgotten, I do think he’s overstating how much effect this is having in the public sphere in Kazakhstan. I could always be wrong, but we just don’t have a lot of data yet to suggest that Zhanaozen will have any larger effects on the Kazakh government or on its social communities.

Which is probably too bad. Nazarbayev gets away with a lot of really nasty things, and there are far too many western analysts who grant him a pass for being affable and relatively prosperous. Amb. Courtney is a useful corrective in that sense, but it remains to be seen if the end really is drawing nigh.


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– author of 1849 posts on Registan.net.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from Registan.net. His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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{ 6 comments }

Grant December 29, 2011 at 6:52 pm

It’s hard to say if he gets a pass because he’s considered necessary or if writers and analysts have fallen prey to good publicity. There are obvious reasons why the U.S doesn’t push him too hard, but we shouldn’t forget who we’re dealing with.

Jay Ulfelder December 30, 2011 at 7:48 am

Regarding Amb. Courtney’s outlook, we actually have lots of data, if you’re willing to consider what’s happened in other authoritarian regimes after events like this one in the past. In the vast majority of cases, these kinds of local confrontations are one-off situations, and the status quo ante quickly resumes. Given that base rate, your prediction is a smart one. Even if contagion effects from the Arab Spring have improved the chances that a protest movement would ensue, the probability would still be small. What’s more, even if a wider movement did emerge, the experiences of other dictatorships tells us it probably would not lead to regime change. None of this is impossible, of course, but historical evidence supports your view that it’s highly improbable.

Omar Nazarbayev December 31, 2011 at 6:24 pm
Joshua Foust January 1, 2012 at 9:48 am

Hey there! I’m sorry, I was too busy shilling for my corporate-military masters in a veritable avalanche of hundred dollar bills last night to really say anything about a 10,000 word exegesis of the psychology of me teenage years.

But I do appreciate the attention! So go ahead and let Mark know that he put a big ol’ grin on my face with such crazy :-)

counterbury January 2, 2012 at 9:01 pm

It’s a better read. You could rather focus on writing articles for wikipedia since that’s just a matter of proper sourcing and quoting correctly. I am not sure if that’s easy enough. But at least that way you don’t have to expose your worthless opinions to the world.

Boris Sizemore January 2, 2012 at 10:54 pm

I couldn’t believe that juvenile character assassination from Ames. What a BS Artist. So offended. “Oh How could you question me?- I am Ames. If you question me I will come after you and track you back to High School.”

It is BS. He reminds of some neutered out Eunoch working for Inquisition, or a short Beria look a like questioning someone before he sends them to the Gulag.

“You actually questioned me? What were doing in High School? I will get you for a post you put up five years ago? And your GPA, just enough to send you to hell. Oh you Troll, I will get you.”

Falling Upwards? What crap. You can’t even post on their site unless you go “Wow Ames, Great Takedown impressive work”

“Yes, Comrade Beria, you look stunning in black”

Who is the Fascist?

“You don’t mess with Ames. He will put you into a slam down. ”

Ames in EXILED is like 3rd Graders bragging about their kickball prowess. Back slapping the “establishment.” Oh yes, I don’t support Dictators, I went to Berkely. Look at me, but never dispute me or you are out of the Agree With Me Club, and join the trolls.”"

“Yeah Chevron, mention them, they work with Kazahk Gas Company. They are to blame.”

I would love to see him with some Kazahks at night, telling them what he knows about their country.

Third Grade, Crap, Inquisitional. I will get you. “Eunoch of the Left. Lord Ames of the Slap Down. Get those trolls, I am your Leader.”

Ames little posts don’t work, never have never will.
Send his little butt out here to Peshawar, we can see how he does with Pashtuns, His BS won’t wash. .

Keep your head up Joshua, Ames is the head case. But don’t cross him. or he will Bury the Counter. CounterBury…get a real life.

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