An Interview with Bakyt Beshimov on Political Situation in Central Asia. Excerpts.
Published in the Journal of Turkish Weekly is an USAK Publication. Monday, 19 July 2010
USAK is the leading Ankara based Turkish think-tank www.usak.org.tr, www.turkishweekly.net, www.usakgundem.com.
-- A "coup d'etat" on April 7 opened Pandora box that paved the way to major disturbances and riots, sharply raised the questions of power and property redistribution, has resulted in the complete disruption of the weak Kyrgyz law enforcement agencies infected with corruption. A ruthless struggle for power has become a prerequisite for chaos in the country.
Chaos in Kyrgyzstan gave an opportunity for external forces trying to take advantage of a weakened State. Recent referendum was held hastily and laid the groundwork for future political conflicts. Indeed, in a political environment of Kyrgyzstan it is a bad habit of making quickly and rush decisions. The practice of the boards of two Kyrgyz presidents was that they have successfully addressed some current issues, but forgot the most important and therefore moved to catastrophic mistakes. As a result, Kyrgyzstan, had tactical successes, but the strategy failed. Take any sphere of activity of the Kyrgyz state and you will see this.
The bloody clash in the south is a serious signal of the dangerous future for Kyrgyz Republic and the region. Just about several international organizations have been closely working in Kyrgyzstan and the rest of the world institutions paid little attention to the problem. A dangerous trend cleared the way for ethnic tension and mistrust, population migrating out of the country, crime and the collapse of the market infrastructure.
We are observing a civilizational collapse in Kyrgyzstan which is a rollback of the country backward, a significant depletion of human resources and terrible degradation of morality.
The new government became another "technical" dump. Parliamentary elections will not increase the public administration quality. The reality is that depressive and archaic political elite thinks about own privileges in the government, rather than management improvement and effectiveness.
The exit from this captivity is possible only through uniting ideology of progress and decisive upgrade of management skills. Lustration is a necessary measure in respect to the Government service in which the very same political players have been active in the destruction of the country and now, again seated in power and aspiring to it.
Only new wave of leaders can inspire people with bringing progressives to the forefront and make change in society.
The bloody tragedy is a result of the nation-building failure in Kyrgyzstan for over two decades with criminalized society especially youth and direct result of coups d' etat in March 2005 and April 2010 respectively highlighted as predatory power struggle.
There was no atonement, no repentance and this orgy continues. No one in power, then and now did not mention own responsibility. But every day the same officials are talking about their place in power.The Dream of Reason Produces Monsters.
In addition, external forces played a great role in the tragic events. We agree with Islam Karimov, the goal was to draw Uzbekistan to wide scale conflict. The Kyrgyz authorities blaming the IMU, the Taliban and the Bakiyev clan. But so far no one officially supported this version. Questions arise.
Why the Uzbek leadership officially mentioning third party involvement is not referring to IMU or Bakiyev ? The first (IMU) is the worst enemy of the Uzbek regime and with the second there are no specific obstacles. But however, there is no official word about them.
Who are these mysterious "third parties"? Nikolai Bordyuzha (CSTO Secretary) spoke about the interests of extremist and terrorist forces in the events which sounds like a cliché. Neither the Collective Security Treaty Organization or Shanghai Cooperation Organization or the member countries of these joints have not supported the version of the IMU and the Taliban trace.
If Kyrgyz government has direct evidence of the Bakiyevs trail in bloody events, it should qualify such crime as international terrorism and immediately bring them to justice. But we do not see collective action of the CSTO member countries on this issue. Why? If they do not agree with the version of the Kyrgyz authorities, they should make adjustments. All stuck at the request of an international inquiry.
In my opinion, there is a struggle for control over Central Asia and year after year it is becoming increasingly fierce. Russia seeks to strengthen its military presence in the region to push the Americans out and to minimize growing Chinese influence.
Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are trying to strengthen both as regional powers. Flaming Kyrgyzstan is an eyesore that overshadows such prospects. Deflating Kyrgyzstan and shaky Tajikistan are suitable soil for undermining the entire Central Asian region. Authoritarian regimes in the region have formed a large army of oppressed many of whom find refuge in Islamic ideology. And what else they can hope for ? Therefore, radical Islam is strengthening its position in the region.
Attempts to modernize societies, except Kazakhstan completely failed everywhere in the region. Most of the population suffered great losses in the educational, cultural and social terms and therefore easily becomes the victim of opportunists. The elites and the political leadership of the region have neither the will nor the confidence in each other to form a much-needed security system in Central Asia. CSTO was a dysfunctional organization. In this environment people of the region are doomed to be the victims of the powerful evil forces.
Uzbek leader Kadyrjan Batyrov's initiative in this conflict has been devastating. Political standoff was transformed into inter-ethnic war. At this point, a bloody scenario was inevitable. The Interim Government's role here is undeniably present. Batyrov himself and The Interim Government officials, struggling for power in the south of the country are the direct participants and provocateurs of massacres.
I have strong doubts about the triumph of law and justice. For all these years, none of those who cynically ravaged and plundered the country initiated the murders and persecutions of people were brought to justice. After the public turmoil, those timeservers loudly announcing the number of criminal open cases but never and I repeat never, they pursued to the end. The massive criminal investigations are manna from heaven for the hordes of investigators who mercilessly milked the suspects of criminal cases making deals with them and quietly writing off criminal cases, ultimately switching to the "small fish" suspects.
There is no foundation for the rule of law. Kyrgyzstan has become a criminal zone for a long time which does not go by the law and morality. Instead, there are concepts of criminal world where who is in power dictates the rules. The Kyrgyz politics is not updated and it looks like an old garbage dump.
Huge and very conscious efforts needed to improve the efficiency and mutual benefit of the Kyrgyz-Uzbek relations. All Kyrgyz governments barely had an idea on underlying interests and strategic goals of Uzbekistan. So this time, Islam Karimov, only gave a signal to the Kyrgyz authorities not to become the playground for outside forces and turned the country into a base for hostile actions against Uzbekistan.
But, to the leadership of both countries to become genuine partners is essential that they at least shared the opinion with regard to external and internal threats to their states and operated symmetrically. Islam Karimov against the militarization of the Ferghana Valley and increased military presence of Russia. He prefers to see Moscow as strategic ally, talking to Russians from the Kremlin without any plans having their bases somewhere in the neighboring country.
Kyrgyz rulers have not been able to identify wise distance in relations with powerful countries and different promiscuous. It does not have to trust.
Another challenging issue is combating terrorism. If Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan fail to act decisively against Islamists, then it will give rise to a new bloody conflict in the south of the country. Water resource disputes and energy problems can be solved by the efforts of all countries in the region, through the prioritization of common interests and benefits. To my regret, Central Asian states are not ready for such cooperation yet. Will they be willing to do so, far away from each other? The chances of integration between them remain insignificant.
The President of Kazakhstan called April 7 uprising in Bishkek a "robbery" and his idea was reflected in the attitude towards our country. But Kazakhstan as OSCE Chairman initiated measures to prevent civil war in Kyrgyzstan and provide wide international support. This is important in the actions of a neighbor.
Regarding the border closure, it is the expected reaction to the chaos in the neighboring country. Confusion at the state borders is being used by criminal groups to transport drugs, conventional weapons and foreign intelligence agencies to destabilize the country.
According to informed sources, during the turmoil in Kyrgyzstan, Afghan heroin trafficking to Russia dramatically increased. The Uzbek Foreign Ministry in a statement bluntly highlighted the transfer of large quantities of weapons into the territory of Kyrgyzstan.
Russian President Medvedev's opinion may materialize. Moscow believes, a current political structure poured into the cauldron of Parliament can be an explosion. Parliamentary government needs more sane and stable political composition. So the question is not in the form but in the content.
The Kremlin has increased attention to Kyrgyzstan for two reasons. The presence of American military bases and water-energy resources which can create leverage with Uzbekistan. The Kremlin concerned only with geopolitical interests. Trade and economic relations with Kyrgyzstan and in general with the countries of the region do not play a significant role in the economy of Russia. But Moscow does not want to give the energy resources of the region to be controlled by China and does not believe in temporary U.S. military presence, despite American assurances. Hence the uncertainty and inconsistency of its policy towards Central Asia.
Moscow is pushing for pro-Russian government in Kyrgyzstan but does not want to be bound with the draft of a parliamentary republic because the Kyrgyz authorities may become more unpredictable and the country will be in constant disarray. Now the Kremlin has a decisive influence on the Kyrgyz authorities but not absolute, yet. Judging by the statements of General Staff of Defense of Russia and the CSTO Secretary General Nikolai Bordyuzha, the Kremlin plans to turn Kyrgyzstan into a military base and therefore will be creating relevant terms and conditions. Statement by the Commander of Russian Air Force Colonel General Alexander Zelin in the case of appropriate political solutions for Russian airbase in Kant, Kyrgyzstan is reflecting the pattern. The military elite and the Russian security services continue to push the idea. Of course through the Kyrgyz politicians. Almost all active political players in Kyrgyzstan have known desire of the Kremlin and not accidentally begin to claim that "Uncle Vanya is preferable to Uncle Sam." But experts say that the Kyrgyz elections will be a competition for politicians and parties around "Pro-Kremlin" agenda.
Young leaders of Russia, Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin, naturally want to strengthen a pro-Russian ground in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan on the threshold and after the change of regimes in these countries. Thus, it sought to define the role of Russia in Central Asia in the first half of the 21 century. The transformation of Central Asia into a zone of privileged interests of Russia opposed by the U.S. and China. If gradually Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan go along on putting up a "fence" to the Kremlin's plan, the realization of the geopolitical objectives of Russia will be postponed. Therefore, Russia wants to be confident in its influence on these countries.
Turkey continues to play a very positive role in Kyrgyzstan. Turkey always responds to the troubles and problems of our country and we should be grateful to the Turkish Government for that. Turkish investments and business help economic development of our country.
Thanks to the Turkish approach in education that is preserving the islands of quality schools and higher education. I have noticed that Kyrgyzstan youth graduated from Turkish high schools and universities are patriotic active citizens.
The countries of Central Asia and Turkey have had limited opportunities to attain a higher level of relations. Turkey is facing a huge foreign policy challenges at the moment and Central Asia is not able to act consolidated with Turkish counterparts.
In the current state of our country, Kyrgyzstan is not of particular interest for Turkish business. We have not become prospective business partners for Turkey. Therefore, relations with Turkey did not undergo significant changes.
Turkey and Central Asia still have nothing to offer significant to each other and share the world. Political Philosophy of Ata Turk, Ismail Gasprinsky, Central Asian djadids for a new brilliant Turkic world, has become the property of cultural heritage and history, but not policy.
Turkic States must first successfully upgrade into significant factor in world economy and politics. Turkic world, despite the enormous natural wealth and human resources is still the third world.