After Islamofascists attacked the United States in 2001, the foreign affairs establishment went looking for friends in unfriendly places and found very few. One of the areas wherein we made inroads was the Central Asian region, which contains several former Soviet Republics, most of which are still controlled by former Soviet thugs.
One of those is Kyrgyzstan (no, “God Bless You” is not an appropriate response. It may sound like a sneeze, but it is a country).
Since 1990, before Gorby was chased from the collapsing Soviet Empire, Kyrgyzstan has been controlled by President Askar Akavev — well, until about Thursday. On that day, approximately 5,000 protestors stormed government buildings demanding that the President resign. Many, if not all, of the protestors were inspired by the peaceful revolutions of Ukraine and Georgia in the past several months.
In March, with the opposition leader thrown in jail, President Akavev’s friends and family were kept in power in an election determined, post coup, to be fraudulent. Thus began a wave of violence and resistance against the government. This week, President Akavev fled to Moscow where he remains defiant.
The United States needs to consider its response carefully.
Along with Russia, the United States has a military base in Kyrgyzstan. The country borders China and is near Afghanistan and Iran. The opposition, which has set up an interim government is viewed as pro-America — a dangerous position to be in given the proximity to China and Russia’s belief that the United States and Europe are trying to take over Russia’s geographic sphere of influence.
Kyrgyzstan’s opposition leader Kurmanbek Bakiyev on Friday was appointed acting head of state, as the nation’s new leaders sought to consolidate their hold on power after chaotic protests ousted the country’s veteran regime.
Parliament named 55-year-old Bakiyev, a former prime minister and one of the leaders of the nation’s fractious opposition, as both interim president and prime minister at an early Friday session.
Bakiyev pledged to quickly form an interim government and said a fresh parliamentary election would be held in the country in June.
“Right now the main goal is to form a government and ensure order and stability in the republic, especially in Bishkek,” he told deputies after his confirmation.
China has been, for a number of years, trying to quell violence and rebellion in its most Western provinces, provinces that are pro-America and muslim. The United States has been walking a tight rope of diplomacy as a result. If the Kyrgystani opposition is not careful, China or Russia or both could impose their will on the country and reinstate Akavev, who was a master at playing all sides while suppression any outbreak of freedom in his country.
The greatest danger at the moment, in addition to the looting, is the latent sectionalism that Akavev might harness to have the opposition driven out.
On Saturday about 3,000 people were protesting there that the new leadership in Bishkek had appointed people from the south to key posts.
“Even Kyrgyzstan’s medieval khans (rulers), all of them were from (our region),” said Timur, a 33-year-old unemployed man.
“Why don’t they listen to us? Why do they humiliate us and appoint only southerners.”
The United States has an opening to secure the development of a pro-West government in a critical region. Let’s hope it does not botch it.