Turkey Rejects Nuclear Weapons In Its Region – Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkey Rejects Nuclear Weapons In Its Region - Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkish prime minister on Sunday said his country was against nuclear proliferation and weapons-applicable nuclear technology in its region.

“We do not want to see nuclear armament in our region. Our policy on this issue is very clear no matter which country has it. That could be Israel or Iran or any other country,” Erdogan told reporters in response to a question before his departure for the United States to participate in an international nuclear security summit, HaberTurk reported.

Erdogan said he would make a call to the international community to “take a firm stance” against Israel’s suspected nuclear arsenal.

“We have yet to see an international community, which is so sensitive about Iran’s nuclear program, taking a firm stance against Israel,” Erdogan said.

Israel is believed to be the only nuclear-armed power in the Middle East but has never confirmed or denied that it possesses atomic weapons.

Iran insists that its nuclear program is for civilian purposes only, and the Islamic regime has denied any secret military agenda to it. (İMB-BRC)

Saakashvili Grieves the Loss of a Fellow American Stooge

[He was such a pal to Saakashvili that he visited S. Ossetia with him during the war, where the Georgian President used him in a staged publicity attack with real ammunition.  The fact that two of America's primary stooges in this region are removed from power, almost simultaneously, shows that there are no coincidences in this matter.]
Georgia announces April 11 day of mourning on death of Polish president

Georgia, Tbilisi, April 10 /Trend News, N.Kirtskhalia/

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashviliannounced April 11 a day of mourning inGeorgia in memory of the tragically deceased President of Poland Lech Kaczynski, the press secretary of Georgian President Manana Manjgaladze said to a briefing on April 10.

The plane of the Polish President has crashed in Smolensk while landing to a Russian airport Saturday, killing 97 people.

Manjgaladze said that the Georgian president has already signed a decree declaring Kaczynski national hero of Georgia.

“The president believes that it is difficult to overestimate the merits of the Polish president to Georgia, since in the international arena he defended the interests of Georgia, and during the Russian aggression was in Tbilisi at the moment when the Russian tanks came to Tbilisi,” she said.

Saakashvili called Kaczynski Georgia’s friend who always defended freedom.

“The president said that not only the Polish people, but the whole world lost Kaczynski, because in this world of practicality, he was an idealist and a fighter for high ideals,” said the press secretary.

Was Polish President Murdered in Staged Plane Crash?

Was Polish President Murdered in Staged Plane Crash?

JAMES BUCHANAN

Jews were upset that President Kaczynski had “anti-Semites” in his ruling coalition.

The arch-criminal Franklin Delano Roosevelt once said “In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way.” So what do you say when a good portion of a European government is wiped out in a single plane crash?

Commercial jets land in bad weather all the time. Thousands of jets land all over the world safely in poor visibility, yet this one plane with the Polish President and many high ranking Polish officials smashes into the ground. Be very suspicious of media attempts to blame the weather or to blame the pilot.

Remember Bill Clinton’s Commerce Secretary, Ron Brown? He was being investigated for campaign finance fraud. He died in a highly convenient plane crash near the Dubrovnik airport shortly after threatening the Clintons that he would not go down for those fraud charges alone. It’s suspected that a false landing beacon signal was set up in some nearby hills causing Air Force 2 to crash into those hills during poor visibility. A detailed account of suspicious circumstances surrounding Ron Brown’s death can be read here.

Whenever politicians die “accidentally”, it’s worthwhile to see if the deceased politicians had been doing anything that may have angered the Jews or the New World Order, which in Europe takes the form of the European Union (EU), whose main goals include forcing all European nations under its control to have a single currency and to allow an unlimited flood of immigrants from the Third World.

The safety record of the Tupolev-154 has been questioned, but virtually all the crashes were by Third World airlines or over remote parts of Siberia. The first loss of a Tu-154 operated by Poland was the one that the Polish president and a good part of the Polish government was on. This same Tu-154 just had a major inspection and overhaul in December 2009.

One article notes “In one of those rare moments of unity, the National Bank of Poland and the Polish government agreed on the need to weaken the Polish zloty, which over recent weeks has rebounded close to its pre-crisis strength. The currency’s strength is now seen a possible threat to economic recovery. After several verbal interventions over the past few days, the central bank intervened with real money Friday, for the first time in more than a decade. The bank followed through on its Thursday warnings that it is ‘technologically and psychologically’ prepared to enter the currency market to prevent ‘excessive strengthening of the zloty.’ Government officials also said earlier this week that the ’strong zloty’ is damaging growth and, after Friday’s intervention, said they fully back the central bank’s move. In moving to weaken the zloty, Poland’s leadership was placing the interests of the people of Poland ahead of the interests of the European collective known as the European Union. Then, the next day, the president of Poland dies in a plane crash along with numerous other top leaders, including the president of the National Bank.”

The trip to Smolensk was to honor the memory of Polish POWs murdered by the Communists during World War Two. The Jews don’t like any “competition” to their Holocaust. The Jews want to pretend that they are the world’s ultimate victims and deserving of the world’s eternal sympathy, which invariably includes a ban on all criticism of the Jews or Israel. Kaczynski was not only throwing a spotlight on a mass murder by Communists; he was throwing a spotlight on a mass murder by Communist Jews. Jews played a key role in Communism, and Jews were often the commissars who were shooting defenseless dissidents and POWs. President Kaczynski had promised to go after Communist murderers, who had killed Poles during the long Communist occupation. Many of those war criminals were Jews, some of whom are still living in Israel or the United States.

Curiously, the Polish Prime Minister (in exile) in 1943 was killed in a suspicious plane crash after he learned of the Communist mass murder at Katyn and began raising concerns that threatened the alliance between the Communists and the capitalists. Meanwhile, Polish troops were fighting on the Western front for the Allies. The nation of Poland was completely sold out by FDR and Churchill at Yalta to an indefinite occupation by the same Communists, who mass murdered Polish POWs.

An article from the Jewish Telegraph reports “Jews mixed on new Polish leader– The new president of Poland was elected with the backing of anti-Semitic supporters. But not all Polish Jewish officials believe Lech Kaczynski, who will take office in December, should be criticized for his extremist bedfellows, especially considering his record on Jewish issues. Kaczynski, the former mayor of Warsaw, was elected last month to replace President Aleksander Kwasniewski. Barred from running again under Poland electoral law, Kwasniewski is popular with Jews inside and outside Poland. The incoming president’s Catholic-oriented Law and Justice Party governs Poland in coalition with two extremist parties, Self-Defense and the League of Polish Families, ‘whose members have frequently expressed anti-Semitic sentiments,’ according to Tel Aviv University’s Stephen Roth Institute, which monitors attitudes toward Jews around the world.”

Obama going off the deep end

Obama going off the deep end

FLOYD AND MARY BETH BROWN

A recent analysis by Roger Simon of PJTV Media maintains that Obama is showing signs of mental illness. A wide variety of commentators have observed that Obama displays severe narcissism. Obama is conceited, and he is demonstrating a serious disassociation from reality.

A recent case in point was Obama’s bizarre and meandering 17-minute, 2,500-word answer to the simple question about how he could justify raising taxes for ObamaCare during a recession when citizens are already overtaxed. Obama’s wildly inappropriate answer left the audience stunned and led commentator Charles Krauthammer to mockingly say, “I don’t know why you are so surprised. It’s only nine times the length of the Gettysburg address, and after all Lincoln was answering an easier question, the higher purpose of the union and the soldiers who fell in battle.”

This lapse of delusion occurred in front of a friendly audience. Overall, Barack Obama seems to be slipping into a slightly more delusional state these days.

On Monday, following his embarrassing answer on Saturday, Obama stopped by the Washington Nationals home opener to loft an effeminate toss toward home plate constituting the ceremonial first pitch. After this display, Obama was mucking it up in the press booth talking about his love of the Chicago White Sox. The announcers asked Obama which players he supported growing up a White Sox fan. After hemming and hawing for about 30 seconds, Obama responded that he grew up in Hawaii and was actually an A’s fan. Again, he avoided mentioning any players by name. Obama seems to believe that he can say whatever he wants, and not reap the consequences or be forced to defend his empty assertions. Obama behaves in a manner so disconnected from reality that he is shocked when someone has the audacity to question him. Obama acts like his word is infallible.

In March of last year Obama was on “60 Minutes” with Steve Kroft. Throughout the interview as Kroft questioned about the economic downturn and people losing their life savings, Obama just kept laughing. A one point CBS’s Kroft stopped him and asked, “Are you punch drunk?” How will the American people react to seeing their president laugh off their predicament? Obama’s inappropriate laughter clearly demonstrated he has lost touch with the pain that people are feeling.

Obama portrays himself as the larger-than-life figure towering above the political fray. At the summit when Obama was pushing his health care package through Congress, he attempted to act as if he were the chief arbiter of truth. With petty insults, he slapped down what the Republicans proposed and audaciously claimed his was a “bipartisan bill.” Obama distorts the truth with such frequency that one must start to question if Obama even realizes he is lying or is so disassociated from the truth that he believes what he says.

A further example of Obama’s delusions of grandeur occurred when he gave himself a “good solid B plus.” Believing that his presidency was an above average success when America is hurting is absurd. Obama went so far as to claim that he would give himself an “A” once health care was passed. Obama is not living in the same reality as the rest of us.

As Charles Krauthammer wrote, “Not that Obama considers himself divine. (He sees himself as merely messianic, or, at worst, apostolic.) But he does position himself as hovering above mere mortals, mere country, to gaze benignly upon the darkling plain beneath him where ignorant armies clash by night, blind to the common humanity that only he can see.”

Obama sees himself as the greatest man to be president in all time. He truly believes it when he said “we are the ones we have been waiting for,” and “this is the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and the planet began to heal.” He believes that he can do anything he pleases and the people will love him for it. Obama plans to radically transform this country and go down in history as, in his mind, the greatest ever. Obama is clearly disconnected from reality.

Obama is, according to Newt Gingrich, “potentially the most dangerous (president), because he so completely misunderstands reality.” Gingrich was referring to Obama’s inept and weak stance on missile defense amongst other things. Even Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said that Obama is an amateur; so much for wowing the world. Obama lives in an alternate universe where he treats our friends poorly and expects our enemies to change and become our friends. Here’s hoping that the voters help to connect this president back to reality in November.

The Browns are bestselling authors and speakers. Together they write a national weekly column distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. Floyd is also president of the Western Center for Journalism. They can be reached at browns@caglecartoons.com.

Pakistanis Take to the Streets Over Outages–Looking Like Kyrgyzstan

People take to streets against power outages

LAHORE: Despite the weekly holiday, the prolonged and unscheduled power cuts are underway across the country, especially in small cities.

While enraged people hit by severe heat wave and electricity load-shedding took to streets in many cities.

In Gujranwala, where around 14 to 16 hours of load-shedding is being observed in urban areas and 18 to 20 hours in rural areas, hundreds of people gathered at the Aiwan roundabout and staged demonstration by burning tyres. They also blocked traffic on Islamabad to Lahore road.

Owing to the continued load-shedding, more than 200 small industrial units have been closed in Gujranwala, leaving thousands jobless.

In Multan, chamber of small traders took out a rally against the ongoing power outages and price hike. They staged demonstration at Timber Market and set tyres on fire. The protestors threatened to give a call for shutter down strike on April 14 if their demands were not met.

The duration of electricity load-shedding in Khanewal, Muzaffargarh, Khangarh and Dera Ghazi Khan rose to 17 hours.

On the other areas, the Multan Electric Supply Corporation (MEPCO) is faced with power shortfall of 550 MW while overall demand of MEPCO region stands at 2400 MW.

In addition, situation is almost similar in Balochistan, parts of Sindh and northern areas.

Formula for Instant “Islamists”

[The groundwork has been prepared well here, over a period of many years.  The radicalization process has advanced to the point where the "Gladio" science can now be successfully applied, turning a political hotbed of desperate people into a war zone.  The development of the science of "Gladio" has given the CIA/military psy-warriors the knowledge of how to compel a certain type of man (and to induce large groups of like-minded men) into taking-up arms in defense of himself and his own family.  Careful behavioral studies of targeted populations gives them intimate knowledge of the local leadership--Which men should be groomed for leadership roles and which ones would resist at all costs, and therefore had to be eliminated.

The political assassinations of the targeted resistance leaders was done in a manner to implicate the opposing party--the right-wing would hit its own allies, if need be, otherwise they would be hit by  mercenary groups or military infiltrators, to create popular animosity and demands for revenge against the left-wing.  Through this long drawn-out process, simple human rights issues become magnified into justification for democratic-revolution and grounds for military intervention, if they are successful.

Into this heated atmosphere, international spokesmen for human rights causes like Ban Ki-moon charge in , to incite the angry victimized societies, like we just witnessed in Kyrgyzstan.

The intensive study of the Nazi mind-control science taken-up at the end of world war II and the follow-up studies done in the subsequent Gladio experiments in terror, which were inflicted upon America's European allies since then seem to have really paid-off for the evil empire.]

State Islam, Outsiders Compete For Influence In Central Asia

Muslim men pray during Friday Prayers at a mosque in Osh, Kyrgyzstan. Some Central Asians question whether their local clerics are influenced by politics and state doctrine.

By Bruce Pannier

“Islam is a religion of knowledge,” the cleric told a television audience. “Unfortunately, some people attempt to use Islam — the religion of knowledge, goodness, and development — wrongly or for their own selfish ends.”

It’s a message that might not appear extraordinary — the virtues and peaceful nature of Islam have long been espoused — until you consider the source. As imam-khatib at Tashkent’s Kukeldash Mosque, Anvar Qori Tursunov enjoys the backing of the Uzbek authorities, making it apparent that his words address not only Islamic adversaries, but perceived enemies of the state itself.

In the ideological vacuum left by the demise of communism, religion reentered the scene in Central Asia. And with officially sanctioned Islam pitted against outside interpretations that authorities do not want to take root, the region’s regimes have deployed clerics like Tursunov in an ongoing battle for influence.

Central Asia’s Islamic history dates back more than a millennium, but for most of the 20th century, the region was part of the Soviet Union, cut off from the rest of the Islamic world. With the fall of the USSR, the newly independent states of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan quickly re-embraced their Islamic heritage.

Islamic groups saw fertile recruiting ground in the region, with its 50 million primarily Sunni Muslims. Since making their entrance to the region, they have posed an immense challenge to clerics like Tursunov in thousands of officially registered mosques.

Zeyno Baran, a senior fellow and director for the Center for Eurasian Policy at the Hudson Institute in Washington D.C., says that the governments of Central Asia were unprepared for the arrival of widely divergent religious groups from outside the region.

“Central Asia was perfect ground and many of the governments in Central Asia at the time, including Uzbekistan, did not understand that not all Islamic groups are the same,” Baran says.” They did not know and they did not understand that some of them are radical, some of them have political ideologies.”

Over time, the states of Central Asia tried to strengthen the voice of their official interpretations of Islam by silencing the outsiders. Hizb-ut Tahrir from the Middle East, Tablighi Jama’at from Pakistan, Salafiya from the Arab world, and Nurchilar from Turkey were banned, among other groups.

But despite these bans, continued reports of arrests of various prohibited groups’ followers in Central Asia suggest that they enjoy significant support, and that their appeal may even be on the rise.

Competing Sects

The chief mufti of Kyrgyzstan’s Spiritual Directorate, Murataaly-Hajji Jumanov, the highest Islamic official in his country, explains the need to combat outside Islamic groups. “Their brainwashing of some of our citizens is a big problem,” Jumanov tells RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service. “We can’t hide our heads in the sand and ignore them, we have to prevent this and maintain order. Otherwise we will have problems later.”

The preferred alternative preached by Jumanov and other state clerics is the region’s traditional Hanafi School of Islamic Law — considered by some to be the most liberal of the four schools of Sunni Islam (Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i, Hanbali) — mixed with Naqshbandi Sufism, a mystic order whose founder, Baha-ud-Din Naqshband Bukhari, came from Central Asia.

This form of Islam, its official adherents believe, best reflects the values of Central Asia’s mostly Turkic and Persian peoples, and the region’s rich Islamic history is often invoked by clerics and Islamic scholars as they exhort people to resist forms of Islam arriving from other countries.

But another element of the region’s history works against state Islam. Sultans, emirs, khans, and others tried for centuries to bend Islamic clerics to their will, knowing that Islam was the greatest unifying force in their regions, and therefore both the biggest potential threat to their regimes and the best way of legitimizing their rule.

Today’s regimes, in this respect, are no different than their predecessors.

Hoji Akbar Turajonzoda of Tajikistan has a unique perspective on the modern role of Islam and the state in Central Asia. He was the Qazi Qalon of Tajikistan, the country’s highest Islamic imam, in the last years of the Soviet Union and first years after Tajikistan became independent.

He joined the Islamic opposition that was fighting government forces during the 1992-97 Tajik civil war and was forced to flee the country. But he and other opposition figures were amnestied as part of the agreement that ended the war, and he has been back in Tajikistan for more than a decade.

Turajonzoda, who since his return has held state positions not related to religion, tells RFE/RL’s Tajik Service there is a clear connection between the state and the imams preaching in mosques.

“Some 90 percent of imams are appointed by the government, by local government [officials] and offices of the security agency,” Turajonzoda says. “Even the law says that imams are supposed to be appointed by worshippers at the mosques with the approval of the government. But it is actually the government that selects who the imams will be, and when they appoint imams it is clear [the government] controls the mosque through these protégés.”

Clerics Under Pressure

The influence of the state is apparent in mosques throughout Central Asia. As Kudrat, who spoke to RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service on condition that his full name not be used, explains, official clerics are not entirely free to say what they wish.

Kudrat prays five times daily and goes to mosque when he can — “Fridays for sure,” he says — but laments that “our clerics are very restricted and talk only about the way to behave. We need to learn about politics also.”

Qosimi Bekmuhammad, a Tajik expert on politics and religion, supports Kudrat’s impression. State clerics, he says, “avoid speaking about important topics, the problems of today and tomorrow, and concentrate on topics from 500 years ago.”

Adding to the problem, according to the Hudson Institute’s Baran, is that some state-trained clerics are simply unable to answer all the questions youths have regarding social justice or identity issues. Seeing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, for example, they get conflicting messages about whether the West is at war with Islam, and what they should be doing, because state-trained imams focus “primarily on Islamic ethics and [are] purely sticking to religious areas.”

“They are not able to always answer the questions that the youths have, and then the youth goes to the charismatic and self-appointed religious leaders or imams who do then provide them often with black-and-white answers that seem satisfactory,” Baran says.

This failure to address contemporary issues exposes a significant vulnerability of state Islam in Central Asia, according to Bekmuhammad.

While he does not think that a large number of young people have been attracted to outside Islamic groups, he recognizes that the social conditions in Central Asia have led some to join up with outside, and potentially violent, forms of Islam.

“Never say all youth do this, but some do,” Bekmuhammad says. “There are several reasons. First, there are socioeconomic conditions. There are no jobs. These problems have been in the country for 15 years and have led to disappointment among young people.”

The youth of Central Asia, Bekmuhammad says, are looking for advice and spiritual instruction on how to be good Muslims and still survive in the modern world. And this is where state imams are not delivering an adequate message.

In their effort to recruit new followers, outside Islamic groups also seize on state Islam’s connection to secular authorities to discredit its message.

Separation Of Mosque And State

Ayubkhan is a member of Hizb-ut Tahrir, a group formed by Palestinians in the 1950s that is officially banned throughout Central Asia. Ayubkhan currently lives in Kyrgyzstan’s section of the Ferghana Valley. He spoke to RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service, on condition that his full name not be used, about why he has no faith in state Islam.

“The mufti and his people — in a democratic country they don’t have to do what the government says. There is a law on religion and the government being separate,” Ayubkhan says. “Politicians should not be involved in the mufti’s affairs and the mufti should not follow government orders. The Koran says the mufti should follow Shari’a. I don’t see the mufti doing this.”

Tajik expert Bekmuhammad notes that young people who join outside Islamic groups “often do so because they feel governments in their countries have too much influence in Islam, whereas they would rather Islam had a dominant influence in government.”

Hizb-ut Tahrir member Ayubkhan backs Bekmuhammad’s assessment.

“I study Shari’a and study Hizb-ut Tahrir. I found out that Hizb-ut Tahrir teaches exactly what the Prophet Muhammad wanted us to know,” Ayubkhan says. “The Holy Koran is the ideology of Hizb-ut Tahrir — not just how a person should live in society but how a person should serve other people.”

Body And Soul

State clerics themselves portray the relationship between official Islam and secular authorities in Central Asia as inevitable.

Omurbek, the press secretary for Kazakhstan’s Muslim Religious Directorate, speaks of a symbiosis between Islam in his country and the state.

“According to our constitution the state and religion are separate. But, in fact, we can’t divide the body from the soul of a human being,” Omurbek says. “A human being has reason, a body, and a soul, and we can’t separate them. It’s not possible.”

And Omurbek is insistent that it is not the state that is influencing Islam, but Islam that is influencing politicians.

“God forbid there would be such a thing! To the contrary, our president himself built a huge mosque in the town where he was born,” he says. “Following his example, many rich people, governors, mayors, and others are building many mosques.”

Kyrgyzstan’s chief mufti Jumanov says there is no reason for conflict between Islam and secular authorities in his country.

“First of all, of course, in a secular country sometimes there are different opinions on religion, but during my time as mufti I haven’t seen any problem or conflict,” Jumanov says. “On the other hand, our state is following the correct policy toward Islam. From our side we are trying to work on a path where religion doesn’t have any conflict with state policy.”

There are, of course, the examples to the contrary. One notable conflict between state Islam and the secular authorities happened in the most authoritarian of the Central Asian states, Turkmenistan.

In 2002, Turkmenistan’s chief mufti, Nasrullah ibn Ibadullah, objected to having passages from authoritarian President Saparmurat Niyazov’s “Rukhnama,” his lengthy spiritual guide, inscribed on the walls of a new mosque alongside passages from the Koran. The mufti was sacked, convicted of plotting to kill the president, and jailed for 22 years.

So state imams do have limitations on what they can say, and authorities expect those imams to support the state.

‘Connections To Terrorism’

For many Central Asians dissatisfied with their governments, Islamic opposition groups represent the best and sometimes seemingly only hope for changing the system.

This may explain why Central Asian governments often portray these outside Islamic groups as having links to terrorism.

There is no question that some members of these groups clearly are violent. In one recent example, Imam Anvar Qori Tursunov of Tashkent’s official Kukeldash Mosque was stabbed outside his home on July 31, 2009. Several Islamic militants killed in a security operation in the Uzbek capital in August were blamed for the attack.

In neighboring Tajikistan, the small extremist group Bayat has for years been tied to sometimes deadly attacks against non-Muslims and state-approved Islamic clergy.

But while Central Asian states often resort to describing adherents of alternative forms of Islam as “terrorists,” the label is sometimes false.

Former high imam Turajonzoda rejects charges that all the foreign Islamic groups have connections to terrorism.

“I’m not really sure they are terrorists,” Turajonzoda says. “I’m against terrorism myself, against forcibly propagating ideas, against extremism. But most of these organizations are terrorists in name only.”

Turajonzoda says that by trying to paint all these Islamic groups with the same brush, Central Asia’s governments and state imams only discredit themselves. Central Asians see how some groups behave and perceive them as pious, not violent. This leads people to question the motives of authorities and state imams in branding all groups as terrorists.

Others suggest alternative methods of dealing with the outside Islamic groups.

Tursunbai Bakir Uluu, a former Kyrgyz ombudsman, has called for legalizing Hizb-ut Tahrir in his country. This, he believes, would allow the group to publicly demonstrate what it has to offer, while removing the element of mystery that may attract some to the Islamic sect.

His appeal was rejected and Hizb-ut Tahrir remains banned in Kyrgyzstan and throughout Central Asia.

“I think the region in general still suffers from knowing too little about Islamic history and their own history, because Central Asia once upon a time used to be the center of Islamic civilization,” says the Hudson Institute’s Baran. “Across the Silk Road there were great centers of Islamic learning where scientific thinking and spirituality and rationality and knowledge spread from Central Asia to the rest of the Islamic world and brought great civilization.”

It’s a message that official clerics like Tursunov of Tashkent’s Kukeldash Mosque might incorporate in future sermons. Confidence in traditional belief systems, combined with the ability to communicate those beliefs today, might prove to be the most effective way of countering the influence of outside Islam.

Saida Kalkulova and Erzhan Karabek of RFE/RL’s Kazakh Service, Venera Djumataeva of RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service, and Iskander Aliev and Salimjon Aioubov of RFE/RL’s Tajik Service contributed to this report

Aral Sea, More Leftover Devastation from Soviet State Planning Failures for Region

Q&A: Yusup Kamalov, Fighting for the Aral Sea

April 8, 2010

As the Aral Sea gains global recognition as the most extreme kind of environmental disaster, Yusup Kamalov shares an expert’s perspective.

J. Carl Ganter: Welcome to Circle of Blue Radio’s Series 5 in 15, where we’re asking global thought leaders 5 questions in 15 minutes, more or less.  These are experts working in journalism, science, communication design, and water.  I’m J. Carl Ganter.  Today’s program is underwritten by Traverse Internet Law, tech savvy lawyers, representing internet and technology companies.

The Aral Sea, nestled in southeast Asia, between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, was once the world’s fourth-largest freshwater lake. But in the last 30 years, massive irrigation projects diverted millions of gallons of water from the two major rivers feeding the Aral Sea.  This was diverted for cotton fields and rice paddies.  By the early 1980’s, the Aral’s fresh water supply was completely cut off.

The lake began to shrink drastically.  Salt and mineral concentrations rose, and the destruction of the Aral decimated the fishing industry and actually changed the region’s climate, shortening the growing season.  High winds also pick up dust from the exposed lakebed now, hurting air quality and reducing crop yields.  Many believe that the Sea is beyond salvation.

In Nairobi, at World Water Day recently, Circle of Blue Reporter Brett Walton spoke with Yusup Kamalov.  He is chairman of the Union for the Defense of the Aral Sea and Amudarya, one of the longest rivers in central Asia.  It also feeds the Aral.

First question, there’s a dam built between the northern and southern sections of the Aral Sea.  How effective has that been in restoring parts of the Sea?

Of course, this dam is very effective to restore the really small, northern part of the Aral Sea, which was actually called the small sea before.  Of course it’s very effective, but unfortunately it has an impact on the rest of the sea because the rest of the sea, without this water, dissipates much more quickly than before. We are losing a big part of the sea in a very short time.

YUSUP KAMALOV:
Yusup Kamalov
Yusup Kamalov is chairman of the Union for the Defense of the Aral Sea and Amudarya.
Photo Copyright Brett Walton

What are the health affects in the areas surrounding the sea from the sea’s shrinking?

I don’t think that the shrinking of the sea has a really big impact on the health of the population. But the polluted water, which comes in by Syr Darya and Amu Darya, has a really big impact on the population.  We do also lack quality water, clean water, and we are drinking this water.  We are irrigating with this polluted water, so it does influence our health.  If you come there, you will see a lot of problem with health in general, I mean ability of people to defend themselves from diseases.  Indicators of hemoglobin in blood is very low, especially of women. There are very high levels of diseases connected to the liver and connected to salt content in people’s bodies.

In the 1960’s when the Aral Sea was still intact, Vozrozhdeniye Island, Rebirth Island in English, was where the Soviet military was conducting biological weapons testing.  When the Sea started to shrink, that island became part of the mainland.  What is the status of that Island now?

Unfortunately, we are not informed about the status of the Island.  We know that it’s already connected to the south part of our land, but I have no idea now about [the latest status].

The two rivers that feed the Aral Sea mainly are used for irrigation.  Do you see any change in the farming practices of any of the countries along these rivers?

No.  Unfortunately, there are only a few examples, so-called pilot projects, like deep irrigation in just a few farms, and in general, there are no changes.  In general, there is no big movement to save a drop of water.  There is a good example in Ferghana Valley of evolving, integrated water management, but it’s a local example.  It’s the United States, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan.

This pilot project has shown that it’s quite effective, almost without any money, to have a well-scheduled water providing system.  They saved 30 percent of the water.  They installed some measuring instruments along the canals.  It helped a lot.  That means that if the governments will pay more attention to involve new technologies, especially new economic tools to save the water, then we will have success.

What economic tools are governments using?

For example, Tajikistan implemented payment for water.  Kyrgyzstan too, and some part of Kazakhstan also.  Still Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, they’re not doing anything involving water pricing, etc., because they say it could lead us to an unpredictable situation.

There are a lot of problems in the basin between the upstream mountainous countries and the downstream countries that use water for agriculture.  A big part of this problem is dams.  Recently the World Bank said it would finance a feasibility study to see if dams are appropriate for the area.  How do you see this changing the politics in the basin?

Of course, downstream countries are afraid of the building of such a big dam. It could be used as a political tool to push downstream countries to make certain decision.  That is why downstream countries are raising their voices against such dams.  If this instrument would be available for mountain countries, then, of course, the situation would be a little bit dangerous for downstream countries.

For example, Tajikistan can push downstream countries to make what they want because they can save a lot of water in water storage. But they’re not [storing water], so that means that Tajikistan doesn’t have [the leverage] to confront downstream countries.  I don’t think that it would be a real big problem.

You live in Nukus, which is a city near the Aral Sea, the former border of the Aral Sea.  How has the shrinking of the Sea changed in your life?  What changes have you seen in the region?

There are a lot of changes, of course, in the region.  There are no more big fishing companies or fishermen, and we are observing a lot of sandstorms.  The scientists say that after 1960’s, there have been 25 times more sandstorms than before.  Of course, the wind became much stronger. I never saw that roofs could be just taken off until the 1990’s, but now it’s just a common picture.  Every year we are losing several roofs in Nukus city, every year.

That means that the wind picks up dust and salty dust, and it’s flowing or rising to high levels of the atmosphere. I’m pretty sure that it has an impact on the global climate because the surface of the former bottom of the Aral Sea is so big. You can’t imagine how much dust is picked up by the wind every year, about 100,000,000 tons, which is the same as the activity of several volcanoes.  When volcanoes are working, and then the climate is changing.  Now nobody pays attention for this as such a big source of the dust.  I think it should be investigated in the near future.

Where do you see the future of the Aral Sea?

It’s a very painful question, because what does the future mean for a dead body?  Nevertheless, I hope that we will have enough water to keep the Aral Sea a certain size.  Maybe it could be three lakes, or maybe even one, but nevertheless we should save the Aral Sea. Because, as I mentioned before, the former bottom of the Aral Sea has a big impact on the global climate.  And secondly, the Aral Sea was really the source of economic prosperity for the people living around it.

We should negotiate globally about it.  If we are not able to save such a small lake, how can we save the planet? It would be a good example for people that we can do it, even on a small scale.  If are we not able to do it, then everybody might doubt we can save our planet.  This is why we have to save the Sea.

That was Circle of Blue’s reporter Brett Walton, in Nairobi, speaking with Yusup Kalamov, chairman of Union for the Defense of the Aral Sea and Amudarya.  To find more articles and broadcasts on water design, policy and related issues, be sure to tune in to Circle of Blue online at CircleofBlue.org.

Our theme is composed by Nadev Kahn, and Circle of Blue Radio is underwritten by Traverse Legal, PLC, internet attorneys specializing in trademark infringement litigationcopyright infringement litigationpatent litigation and patent prosecution.  Join us again for Circle of Blue Radio’s 5 in 15.  I’m J. Carl Ganter.

Trouble in the Stans: which is the next country to blow up?

Trouble in the Stans: which is the next country to blow up?

The revolution in Kyrgyzstan last week has sparked fears of similar unrest and bloodshed in the secretive and dictatorial former Soviet republics of Central Asia

By Shaun Walker in Moscow

Kyrgyzstan's ousted President Bakiyev
AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Kyrgyzstan’s ousted President Bakiyev

The revolution in Bishkek last week, which left dozens dead, the president ousted, and an uncertain future for Kyrgyzstan, has set off warning bells across Central Asia, one of the world’s least known yet most strategically important regions.

The five Central Asian “Stans”, all of which were formerly part of the Soviet Union, have been run as dictatorships since their independence, mostly by the local communist bosses who simply switched from Marxist to nationalist rhetoric when Moscow’s authority collapsed at the beginning of the 1990s. Most of the region’s people live in poverty, but the elites have been courted by the West for their strategic location close to Afghanistan, and the vast oil and gas reserves in the Caspian Sea.

It is a region of eccentric dictators, eye-watering corruption and international intrigue, with the US, Russia and China all keen to get involved in the race for the economic and strategic benefits. It is this same combination of corruption, autocracy and geopolitical significance that also makes analysts fear that the countries in the region are at risk of major uprisings. In the Kyrgyz unrest, many have seen a Russian hand, while grating poverty and fury at President Kurmanbek Bakiyev’s corrupt and nepotistic rule also played their parts.

Kyrgyzstan has now seen two revolutions in the past five years. The “Tulip Revolution” of 2005 ousted the former president Askar Akayev, and last week’s bloodshed appears to have removed his successor, Mr Bakiyev, for good. The question now is whether the uprising in Bishkek will be followed by revolts in other “Stans”.

The country most likely to experience turmoil, and where if turmoil does come it is likely to be the bloodiest, is Uzbekistan, Central Asia’s most populous nation. Under the rule of Islam Karimov, who has been president ever since the break-up of the Soviet Union, the country has become one of the most unpleasant dictatorships in the world. The population lives in fear, with ordinary people terrified to speak out or criticise the regime, and reports of torture and intimidation from the authorities. The controversial former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, was relieved from his duties after speaking too openly about the abuse of human rights in the country.

Many of the complaints that Kyrgyz have against Mr Bakiyev are also present in Uzbekistan, but in an even more exaggerated form. In Kyrgyzstan, Mr Bakiyev was hated by many for the catapulting of his 32-year-old son Maxim into a top government post, as well as the high-ranking positions given to other family members. Maxim Bakiyev became the second most powerful person in Kyrgyzstan and many thought he was being groomed to succeed his father.

In Uzbekistan, a similar process has been under way. The president’s daughter, Gulnara Karimova, is a glamorous, Harvard-educated socialite based in Geneva, and, according to Mr Murray and others, controls the regime’s billions of dollars of assets through the Zeromax company. She has her own jewellery and fashion lines, and occasionally releases saccharine pop songs. She is also said to have provided the money for one of the regime’s biggest vanity projects – the Bunyodkor football club, based in the capital Tashkent. The side, which plays in the obscure Uzbek League, has paid millions to lure stars such as the Brazilian Rivaldo to play for them, and last year recruited former Brazil and Chelsea boss Luis Felipe Scolari to manage the team, giving him the highest salary of any football manager in the world.

Amid all of this, ordinary Uzbeks live in crushing poverty, with no free press and in fear of the rapacious security services. The country’s border with Kyrgyzstan has been shut off since the unrest began last week, and the Uzbek authorities have ensured that local media do not cover the uprising. Nevertheless, the fear for the Uzbek regime will be that news of the collapse of the Kyrgyz regime may put thoughts of revolution into the heads of Uzbeks.

In May 2005, roughly two months after the Tulip Revolution that brought Mr Bakiyev to power in Kyrgyzstan, protests erupted in the Uzbek town of Andijan, not far from the border with Kyrgyzstan. Uzbek troops fired into the crowds, and it is estimated that several hundred people died. The government refused to hold an independent inquiry into the events at Andijan, and claimed that the uprising was organised by terrorists, but those who were there speak of unarmed civilians being sprayed with machine gun fire and later buried in mass graves.

Now, with revolution again in the air in Kyrgyzstan, the Uzbek regime will be hoping that there is no repeat. “If the situation in Kyrgyzstan spirals out of control, with Bakiyev mobilising forces in the south and more violence ensuing, then things could become really dangerous,” said Fyodor Lukyanov, a Russian foreign policy expert. “There would be extremely unpredictable consequences not only for Kyrgyzstan but for all the neighbouring countries, especially Uzbekistan.”

Analysts in Central Asia have long warned that a revolution in Uzbekistan could be exceedingly bloody, and also suspect serious instability when Mr Karimov, who is 72, dies. The problem of succession has reared its head in all five Central Asian republics, three of which are still ruled by ageing former communist party bosses. In addition to Maxim Bakiyev and Gulnara Karimova, in Kazakhstan, President Nursultan Nazarbayev appears to be grooming one of his own daughters for the presidency. But these men have built up such vast reserves of power in their hands that when they leave the scene, the resulting power vacuum could cause serious instability.

The one country where a sitting president has died is Turkmenistan, the most opaque of the five countries and one of the world’s most isolated and closed states. Saparmurat Niyazov, the local party boss who took charge when the country became independent, renamed himself Turkmenbashi – Father of all the Turkmen – and as his rule went on, more and more bizarre laws came into place.

The names for the days of the week and months of the year were changed. Monday was now Turkmenbashi, while a month was named after the president’s mother. Gold statues of the leader were erected all over the country, including one in the centre of the capital, Ashgabat, which revolved to follow the sun each day. University education was dumbed down, with students forced to study the president’s book, Ruhnama, a tedious set of ramblings on life, spirituality and the essence of being Turkmen. Ashgabat became one of the most surreal cities in the world, as the billions of dollars that flowed in from the sale of the country’s vast gas resources went on building marble and gold palaces.

Despite all the wealth, the people were not treated well. The city shimmers like a mirage in the middle of the desert, but in order to make way for the new marble blocks, whole residential neighbourhoods were knocked down, and many people received no compensation at all. There was no access to the outside world, as almost nobody had internet access, and while the majority of people were not starving, few did well.

Everyone expected that when Mr Niyazov died, chaos would reign. No other politician had any kind of profile in the country and various analysts expected either a protracted power struggle within the elites or a popular uprising on the streets. In the event, when he died in late 2006, neither happened. Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, Mr Niyazov’s personal dentist, and later minister of health, managed to take the reins of power in a relatively smooth transition, and the Turkmen people proved so docile after years of brainwashing that they accepted the changes. Mr Berdymukhammedov has promised a gradual liberalisation, but reforms are moving at snail’s pace, and while the new leader has not yet erected any golden statues of himself, vast portraits of his pudgy face now adorn almost every building in Ashgabat. Ordinary Turkmens, in an echo of the Soviet experience, criticise the regime when at home, in trusted company, but don’t dare make their grievances public.

In each of the five countries, the local specifics and the style of government are different. In Kyrgyzstan, the revolution appears to have been caused by a number of factors: the relatively liberal political climate where protesting was perhaps not the norm but still did not seem like an immediate death sentence, together with a worsening economic situation, and, quite possibly, some co-ordination from Russia.

What it would take to spark revolts in the other Central Asian states remains unclear. Kazakhstan, for example, is much more developed economically, has at least some small semblance of a free press, and a population that is well educated and often well travelled. Nevertheless, Mr Nazarbayev, the president, keeps a tight grip on power, and serious dissent is crushed ruthlessly. There have been cases of opposition politicians dying in suspicious circumstances. But it is uncertain whether this kind of system makes chances of an uprising more or less likely than in a country such as Turkmenistan, where conditions are much harsher and the very idea of an opposition politician would be unthinkable, and where people have less access to outside information.

“Everyone thought that when Niyazov died, there would be utter chaos, and there was nothing of the sort,” says Mr Lukyanov. “But nobody knows if the apparent stability in Turkmenistan is temporary or there to stay. Nobody knows if the smooth handover of power after his death will prove to be the rule for the region or the exception. Really, nobody knows anything for certain. It’s a very unpredictable region.”

Maksim Bakiev

Maksim Bakiev Appears – Online

Maksim Bakiev

April 08, 2010
Maksim Bakiev’s whereabouts have been a mystery since clashes broke out in Kyrgyzstan on April 6.

President Kurmanbek Bakiev’s son and head of one of the country’s top fiscal bodies was scheduled to arrive in Washington, D.C. on April 7 for meetings with U.S. officials. Those meetings have since been called off.

When I went to the Kyrgyz embassy yesterday (see my last post), the man who answered the door said he didn’t know if the first son was in town or not.

Kyrgyz Foreign Minister Kadyrbek Sarbaev did make it to Washington, as confirmed by State Department spokesman Philip Crowley. He, too, was to attend the cancelled meetings.

As for Maksim Bakiev, Crowley said, “We believe he is in Washington.” He had no further details.

But the younger Bakiev did make something of a public appearance today. In cyberspace.

Livejournal, one of the Russian-language blogosphere’s leading platforms, showed that a user named “maksimbakiev” had created a profile today, and has posted two entries.

The first was a link to his father’s defiant interview with Ekho Moskvy.

The second, posted just minutes later, was a statement allegedly written by the deposed president himself.

In it, Bakiev Sr. writes, “I am ready to take responsibility for my guilt in the tragic events taking place if my guilt is proven by objective and impartial investigation.”

Describing himself as “the guarantor of the Constitution,” the president also denounces the violence and looting in the country, urges calm, and says that “destabilization” at the hands of the opposition leaders will be punished.

While Maksim Bakiev may have appeared online, his physical whereabouts is still unknown.

The location listed on the Livejournal profile of “maksimbakiev” is New York, and yet the times of his two postings are 18:04 and 18:10.

When I read them, the time was only 11:00 on the East Coast of the United States.

The mystery continues.

–Richard Solash

Is the Kyrgyzstan upheaval bad for the US?

“According to Beknazarov, who is heading up an investigation into the Bakiyev family’s financial dealings, Maxim Bakiyev, the president’s son, is allegedly involved in the sale of fuel to the U.S. air base. If true, the arrangement could possibly have netted the Bakiyev family tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars.”

A billboard, displaying Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev, right, and deposed Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, is seen in the town of Jalalabad in southern Kyrgyzstan, April 10, 2010. (Denis Sinyakov/Reuters)

Is the Kyrgyzstan upheaval bad for the US?

Some Kyrgyz express anger with America for its relationship with the Bakiyev government.

By David L. Stern – GlobalPost

Published: April 10, 2010 19:28 ET

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan — In the immediate aftermath of Kyrgyzstan’s violent government overthrow this week, American interests in the strategic central Asia region may suffer a profound blow, while Russia’s authority appears ready to increase.

Thousands turned out today at a cemetery complex on the edge of Bishkek for a public burial for some of those killed in the fighting. Kyrgyzstan’s health ministry now places the number dead at 79.

But three days after thousands of protesters — some armed with weapons seized from police — overcame government security forces and drove President Kurmanbek Bakiyev from the capital, senior officials in the country’s new provisional government expressed outrage that Washington seemingly turned a blind eye to the deposed administration’s abuses. Some of them are calling for the closure of the United States’ air base outside the capital — a strategic transit hub that is key to President Barack Obama’s plans to ramp up operations in nearby Afghanistan.

Azimbek Beknazarov, the new government’s vice prime minister responsible for legal matters, said that U.S. officials were apparently indifferent to Bakiyev’s human rights violations, while providing the means for the Bakiyev family to become extraordinarily rich.

“The last two-three years, Kyrgyzstan’s democratic values have been destroyed,” Beknazarov said in an interview with GlobalPost amid the debris of the looted presidential administration building, which was the focus of Wednesday’s violence.

“America closed its eyes to this,” he said. “That’s why the majority of people now think that America only needs its military base and nothing else interests it.”

Beknazarov said that the provisional government has not yet formally started to discuss whether to keep the base open, although many ordinary people are asking them take up the question. “My own personal opinion is that Kyrgyzstan doesn’t need such a base,” he said.

Meanwhile, operations at Manas air base have been curtailed sharply. A press spokesperson there said that troop transport flights have been temporarily suspended, although other “normal operations,” such as re-fueling, continue. He did not provide details why the troop flights were halted.

Kyrgyz protester: “The Jews are Kaput”

[A possible link to an Israeli or Jewish hand in the looting of the Kyrgyz treasury is hinted at in the following excerpt of a Foreign Policy blog report.  This is similar to the S. Ossetia contest between Putin and Saakashvili, where Israelis were some of the primary groomers of the Empire's puppet, as well as leaders in the economic plunder of Georgia.

Further evidence of the anti-Semitic slant taken in some of the Kyrgyz protests is given in the second piece, a very rough Google translation of a Russian article, Why are the Israelis cover anti-Semites Kyrgyzstan?  The report author questions why Jewish and Israeli authority figures tried to cover-up the anti-Jewish anger in the ongoing revolution that is revealed in anti-Semitic graffiti and the cited fire-bombing of a synagogue.  It may be nothing more than attempts to prevent the magnification of the problem, but knowing the depths of the plot-twists going-on under American/Israeli direction in the region, it is more likely that another long-running destabilization operation is being exposed to the world.]

Kyrgyz protester: “The Jews are Kaput”

Posted By Joshua Keating

Freelance reporter Ben Judah has just filed an absolutley gripping and powerful first-hand account of this week’s events in Kyrgyzstan for FP. Here’s one brief excerpt:

Judah notes a disturbing undercurrent of anti-Semitism in the crowd:

A placard hangs in a prominent spot on the building. Black-painted words, in Russian so that foreigners like me can read them. “Dirty Jews and all those like Maxim Bakiyev [President Kurmanbek Bakiyev's son] have no place in Kyrgyzstan.”

“We captured the building … Lots of people died, but now we are in control.” The older man waves his laminated membership card of an opposition party in my face and grins at the placard.

“The Jews are Kaput. … The Jews are already gone.”

A smoker chides in from the left. “The Jews were around the president and his gangster son Maxim. They were taking over our economy, with banks and capital. They have fled.”


Why are the Israelis cover anti-Semites Kyrgyzstan

IzRus: The Business of Jews.
10:51 11.04.2010

Why Israeli officials of Jewish organizations operating in the former Soviet Union, trying to hide anti-Semitism in Kyrgyzstan.

At the end of the week was done by unknown attack on a synagogue in Bishkek. In the building were thrown three firebombs. No one was injured, but the synagogue suffered some damage. Information about this Friday, April 9, came to Jerusalem to the staff of one of the state structures. Their attempt to obtain additional information from the leaders of Jewish organizations in Kyrgyzstan has not brought results. Those made it clear they did not want to spread about the incident. Much the same was said portal IzRus, although one of the Jewish functionaries in Bishkek, reluctantly confirmed the fact of the attack on the synagogue. However, he stressed that “now everything is normal”, “nothing terrible happened,” and “does not need to write about it.”

Significantly, the Jewish organizations operating in Kyrgyzstan (and other CIS countries), chosen such a course of conduct with Riots started in this country. The most fiercely held her by the Israeli offices of these organizations. Representative in Bishkek, one of them, who spoke portal IzRus on its behalf on the situation and the fears of local Jews, and then received from the leadership in Jerusalem, severely reprimanded (and as a consequence was forced to withdraw from any contact with journalists). Israel – The staff of these same organizations and accessed directly to the editors of the portal IzRus. Some of them tried to convince us not to publish “negative”, though they confirmed the vocal with the facts. Their requests are motivated by the fact that do not want to create panic among the Kyrgyz Jews. This is true even for stories appeared on the wall of Government House in Bishkek anti-Semitic poster (as first reported portal IzRus, and then porluchil on this official reaction Israeli Foreign Ministry). Employees of another organization, went further, demanding to withdraw already published information. This was explained by the fact that vocal with the information we supposedly can damage some “Israeli interests”, or create a danger to residents – employees of this organization, located in Kyrgyzstan. However, the functionaries who made such claims, did not know what message the most “sensitive” nature relating to Jews and Israelis in Kyrgyzstan published a portal IzRus only after proper authorization is a censorship (and for ensuring that the disclosed information would not be detrimental to the public interest or security of individual employees).

Yet the real motives of such behavior lies in the fact that prekryvayas “zeal for the power, members of Jewish organizations are trying to protect their corporate and personal interests. As explained by one official from the state institutions, the budget of any non-governmental organization that deals with the Jewish diaspora, depends on donations collected in the communities USA, Canada and France. The total amount allocated to work in any country, including the republics of the CIS depends on the number of “wards” where Jews (and they are known, and so left quite a bit). Accordingly, the more people falling under the Law of Return, yielding to “panic”, decided to emigrate to Israel, including from Kyrgyzstan, the less there will be patronized by Jews. But this depends not only budgets custodial institutions, but also their status, prospects for the future staff of the central apparatus, as well as the position and the possibility of field representatives. That is why the various functionaries, making a career on the remains of Soviet Jewry, is not very favorable publicity of any information about anti-Semitism in the former Soviet Union, and Kyrgyzstan in particular.

11.04.2010

Source - izrus.co.il
Permanent address article - http://www.centrasia.ru/newsA.php?st=1270968660

Blood in the Streets of Bishkek

A Kyrgyz opposition supporter waves the national flag near the main government building during protests in Bishkek on April 7.

Blood in the Streets of Bishkek

My two days running with the mob in Kyrgyzstan.

BY BEN JUDAH

Every man knew his place in Kurmanbek Bakiyev’s Bishkek. The street sweeper never looked into the eyes of the businessman with a gold watch. If you drove a clapped-out Soviet car, you always let those in shiny SUVs overtake you. The shopkeepers turned their noses up at farmers hawking what they can and everybody pulled back when the Bakiyev clan grabbed what it wanted. Ordinary Kyrgyz were reserved and powerless, not knowing their own strength. This was Bishkek early on Wednesday morning. As people worked and criss-crossed though quiet leafy avenues, nobody knew that Bakiyev’s rule might be in its final hours. Nobody would have believed that, for two blood-soaked days and two nights alive with gunfire, they would see society itself eclipsed in the darkness of revolutionary anarchy.

“Freedom or Death!”

A roar of banging metal, screams and shouting is approaching. Passersby stop in their tracks. People had heard rumors of riots in the provinces but their eyes swell with shock as they see what is marching forwards. Hundreds of men are on the move. Their eyes have turned to glares. Men enter this mob as shopkeepers, drivers or factory workers — only to lose themselves in the surge. They are moving as one body, copying each other as they pick up the rhythmic chants and grab rocks to hurl at police. A man in a gas mask is waving an AK-47. All work has stopped. Shop fronts are being boarded up.

Society is dissolving. The grief of a people who have seen their quality of life slide continuously since the fall of the Soviet Union is turning into a frenzy born of despair.

A middle-aged man grabs me. His hair is grey and his eyes are brown. He wants me to understand. “We are living like Africans now … we are not blacks … When this was the USSR there were factories, good factories … there were sports centers … good schools.”

“There has been nothing since then,” he continues. “Only dictators and criminals.”

Men in their twenties without any memory of Communism nod in approval. The mob swells and men mimic each other in posture and snarl. At the front are lads that have been bussed in from the countryside. Dressed in drab, heavy clothing, their skin looks sculpted by different forces than the normal Bishkek urbanites. These are destitute peasants that have been offered drink and a free ride, some say, in exchange for violent services by a coalition of opposition factions.

Three commandeered armoured vehicles are being driven toward the seat of power, an imposing Soviet-era edifice known as the White House. Onboard, shrieking men are banging against the green armor in excitement. Traffic has vanished. The main thoroughfare belongs to the rioters. These vehicles have been ripped from Bakiyev’s riot police that was sent to quell the rebels as they gathered on the outskirts of town. They mean everything to the mob. The crowd feels their armor on their skin. The tipping point has long been passed. The people have stopped being afraid of the state.

“Today is Revolution!”

Thousands are pouring in to the main square to stand in line. Some cheer but mostly they gawp. Those watching seem confused. “The Russian are behind this,” one rumor goes. But “what is going on?” is the most common refrain.

Evidently, there has been a massive breakdown in US diplomacy in Central Asia.

US reaps bitter harvest from ‘Tulip’ revolution

By M K Bhadrakumar

BEIJING – This is not how color revolutions are supposed to turn out. In the Ukraine, the “Orange” revolution of 2004 has had a slow painful death. In Georgia, the “Rose” revolution of 2003 seems to be in the throes of what increasingly appears to be a terminal illness.

Now in Kyrgyzstan, the “Tulip” revolution of 2005 is taking another most unforeseen turn. It is mutating and in the process something terrible is happening to its DNA. A color revolution against a regime backed by the United States was not considered possible until this week. Indeed, how could such a thing happen, when it was the US that invented color revolutions to effect regime change in countries outside its sphere of influence?

What can one call the color revolution in Kyrgyzstan this week? No one has yet thought up a name. Usually, the US sponsors have a name readily available. Last year in Iran it was supposed to have been the “Twitter” revolution.

It is highly unlikely that President Kurmanbek Bakiyev will retain his job. Aside from Washington, no major capital is demanding reconciliation between him and the Kyrgyz revolutionaries.

Evidently, there has been a massive breakdown in US diplomacy in Central Asia. Things were going rather well lately until this setback. For the first time it seemed Washington had succeeded in the Great Game by getting a grip on the Kyrgyz regime, though the achievement involved a cold-blooded jettisoning of all norms of democracy, human rights and rule of law that the US commonly champions. By all accounts, Washington just bought up the Bakiyev family lock stock and barrel, overlooking its controversial record of misuse of office.

According to various estimates, the Bakiyev family became a huge beneficiary of contracts dished out by the Pentagon ostensibly for providing supplies to the US air base in Manas near the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek.

This is a practice that the US fine-tuned in Afghanistan, originally to patronize and bring on board important political personalities on the fractured Afghan chessboard. In Kyrgyzstan, the game planwas relatively simple, as there were not many people to be patronized. Some estimates put the figure that the Pentagon awarded last year to businesses owned by members of the Bakiyev family as US$80 million.

Just one look at the map of Central Asia shows why the US determined that $80 million annually was a small price to pay to establish its predominance in Kyrgyzstan. The country is one of the most valuable pieces of real estate in the geopolitics of the region.

Kyrgyzstan borders China’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region. Some time ago there was a whispering campaign which said the Manas base, projected as the main supply base for US troops in Afghanistan, had highly sophisticated electronic devices installed by the Pentagon that could “peep” into Xinjiang where key Chinese missile sites are located.


Besides, a sizeable Uyghur community lives in Kyrgyzstan and almost 100,000 ethnic Kyrgyz live in Xinjiang. Kyrgyzstan surely holds the potential to be a base camp for masterminding activities aimed at destabilizing the situation in Xinjiang.

Furthermore, southern Kyrgyzstan lies adjacent to the Ferghana Valley, which is historically the cradle of Islamist radicalism in the region. The militant groups based in Afghanistan and Pakistan often transit through Kyrgyzstan while heading for the Ferghana Valley. In the Andijan riots in Uzbekistan in 2005, militant elements based in southern Kyrgyzstan most certainly played a major role.

At a time when the Afghan endgame is increasingly in sight, involving the US’s reconciliation with the Taliban in some form or the other, Kyrgyzstan assumes the nature of a pivotal state in any US strategy toward the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) into Central Asia.

To put it differently, for any US strategy to use political Islam to bring about regime change in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in the future, Kyrgyzstan would be extremely valuable. Like Georgia in the Caucasus, Kyrgyzstan’s significance lies not in its natural resources such as oil or natural gas, but in its extraordinary geographical location, which enables it to modulate regional politics.

A challenge lies ahead for US diplomacy in the weeks and months ahead. Although Roza Otunbayeva, the head of the interim government, said on Thursday that as far as bases were concerned “the status quo would remain”, this could change at any moment. At the least, the annual rent of about $60 million the US pays to use the base could be renegotiated.

Otunbayeva was foreign minister before the “Tulip” revolution and she also served in various positions during the Soviet era. Kyrgyzstan is also home to a Russian base. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was the first world leader to recognize the legitimacy of the new government in Bishkek. The affinity to Moscow is clear.

Also in doubt is whether the new regime in Bishkek will want to pursue Washington’s military assistance, especially the setting up of a counter-terrorism center in the southern city of Batken near the Ferghana Valley. This includes the stationing of American military advisors on Kyrgyz soil, not far from the Chinese border.

Clearly, the US pressed ahead too rashly with its diplomacy. On the one hand, it came down from its high pedestal of championing the cause of democracy, rule of law and good governance by backing Bakiyev, whose rule lately had become notorious for corruption, cronyism and authoritarian practices, as well as serious economic mismanagement. (It will look cynical indeed if Washington once again tries to paint itself as a champion of democratic values in the Central Asian region.)

On the other hand, US diplomacy has seriously destabilized Kyrgyzstan. From its position as a relatively stable country in the region as of 2005, when the “Tulip” revolution erupted, it has now sunk to the bottom of the table for political stability, dropping below Tajikistan. An entire arc stretching from Pakistan and Afghanistan to Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan has now become highly volatile.

In all likelihood, we have not heard the end of the story of this week’s riots in Kyrgyzstan in which about 40 people were killed and 400 others injured. The old north-south divide in Kyrgyzstan has reappeared and it is significant that Bakiyev fled from Bishkek, reportedly to his power base in the southern city of Osh. The south is predominately ethnic Uzbek. Some very astutepolitical leadership is needed in Bishkek in the dangerous times ahead if Kyrgyzstan’s ethnic divide were not to lead to a breakdown of the country’s unity. The country’s population is about 65% Kyrgyz (Sunni Muslim), with about 14% ethnic Uzbek.
Besides, the Islamists are waiting in the wings to take advantage of any such catastrophic slide. The socio-economic situation in Kyrgyzstan already looks very grim. All the ingredients of protracted internecine strife are available. Kyrgyzstan is dangerously sliding toward becoming the first “failing state” in the post-Soviet space.

The biggest danger is that the instability may seep into the Ferghana Valley and affect Uzbekistan. There is a hidden volcano there in an unresolved question of nationality that lurks just below the surface, with the sizeable ethnic Uzbek population in southern Kyrgyzstan at odds with the local ethnic Kyrgyz community.

It remains unclear whether there has been any form of outside help for the Kyrgyz opposition. But there is a touch of irony that the regime change in Bishkek took place on the same day that US President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart President Dmitry Medvedev met at Prague Castle. On Thursday, they signed the first major US-Russia arms control pact of the post-Cold War era, which is supposed to set in motion the “reset” of relations between the two countries.

Indeed, the first litmus test of “reset” might be Obama seeking Medvedev’s help to make sure the US does not get evicted from Manas, at least until his AfPak policy reaches its turning point in July 2011, when the first drawdown of US troops is expected. If Obama were to take Medvedev’s help, color revolutions as such would have in essence become a common heritage of the US and Russia. One side sows the seeds and the other side reaps the harvest – and vice versa.

But it will be a bitter pill for Washington to swallow. The Russians have all along mentioned their special interests in the former Soviet republics and the US has been adamant that it will not concede any acknowledgement of Moscow’s privileges. Now to seek Moscow’s helping hand to retain its influence in Kyrgyzstan will be a virtual about-turn for Washington. Also, Moscow is sure to expect certain basic assurances with regard to the creeping NATO expansion into the Caucasus and Central Asia.

As the recent first-ever regional tour of Central Asia by the US’s special representative for Afghanistan, Richard Holbrooke, testified, Washington was just about to accelerate the process of expanding the scope of AfPak into the strategic region bordering Russia and China. Holbrooke ominously spoke of an al-Qaeda threat to Central Asia, suggesting that NATO had a role to play in the region in its capacity as the only viable security organization that could take on such a high-risk enterprise of chasing Osama bin Laden in the steppes and the killer deserts of Kizil Kum and Kara Kum.

Holbrooke’s tour – followed immediately after by the intensive two-day consultations in Bishkek by the US Central Command chief, David Petraeus – didn’t, conceivably, go unnoticed in the concerned regional capitals. But as of now, the US’s entire future strategy in Central Asia is up in the air.

Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar was a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service. His assignments included the Soviet Union, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Germany, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kuwait and Turkey.