Monday, June 14, 2010

"Ethnic" or counter-revolutionary clashes in Kyrgyzstan?

Jotman contributor Sanjuro, drawing on Russian language news sources, updates us on developments in Kyrgyzstan where the second violent revolution of 2010 seems to be underway.  Sanjuro writes:
Things are getting worse. By now over 100 confirmed dead - presumably most of the ethnic Uzbeks and the death toll is rising. For now localized in the South, most notably in Osh and Jalalabad (former Bakiyev's strognhold), but Reuters says it's spreading. Bishkek/North is relatively quiet.

Russia is sending troops to protect its base Kant. The interim Kyrgyz government is apparently desperate for more military help from Russia and Kazakhstan (see here and here).

Even though it's being labeled as "ethnic clashes" and is currently aimed against the ethnic Uzbeks in the area, I think it's a bit of a misnomer. This looks "ethnic" on the surface, it does speculate on ethnic sentiments, but it seems to have political, counter-revolutionary roots, and is apparently facilitated by the criminal underworld. Ferghana.Ru has some analysis.

I am almost sure that the former president Kurmanbek Bakiyev, operating out of Minsk under protection of the Belarus president, is behind this riots - he's has the motive, he has the money, he has the loyal people in Jalalabad, who stand to lose a lot.

Some commenters on the Reuters speculated that this is Russia instigating, as a pretext to send troops, but I don't think this is the case. I'd rather think that this is mostly Bakiyev's retaliation, plus Alexander Lukashenko's (Belarus president) attempt to play some "multi-vector" game to show Russia his still got some bargaining power.

In this case, I'd rather welcome joint Russian-Kazakh intervention, if it happens soon enough. For Russia this could be a very rare instance of constructive use of force (provided there are some capable troops left) and a chance to repair its international reputation. For Kazakhstan, its own secutiry, plus they must be obliged to support their local Central Asian prestige.

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