The recent crisis and instability in Kyrgyzstan, highlighted the fragility of security and the potential weakness of the political systems throughout the region and exposed new dimensions in the conduct of Kazakhstan's foreign policy that may well prove pivotal for US energy interests in the Caspian Sea region. These complexities, often disguised or downplayed by the national governments in the region, attest to the deep political fault lines running through Eurasia as well as the potential for events in one state to ignite potential cross-border discontent and instability elsewhere.
Indeed, an analysis of the nuances in approach, media coverage, and official statements offered throughout the crisis, confirms how concerned some regimes are about their own internal stability, weaknesses in civil society, and their vulnerability to external influence. While, Kazakhstan's leadership emerged with an enhanced reputation for contributing to defusing a possible civil war in neighboring Kyrgyzstan with the timely evacuation of former President Kurmanbek Bakiyev on April 15 to Taraz in southern Kazakhstan, its underlying motives relate more to personal ambition and geostrategic maneuvering around the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and Moscow's efforts to promote a new European security architecture.
Silence in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan
First, the silent regional observers must be identified. Since April 7, and the bloodshed on the streets of Bishkek that signaled the beginning of the end for the Bakiyev regime, drowning in corruption and promoting family interests at the expense of economically and politically developing the state, the governments and state media were predictably silent in both Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
In the latter, only one official statement, through the Uzbek foreign ministry news agency "Jahon" noted that a "confrontation" had occurred resulting in "human casualties." Understandably, since the authorities remain sensitive to the memory of the uprising in Andijan in May 2005 that witnessed a crackdown on civilians which resulted in widespread international condemnation, and in due course was one of the contributory factors in Tashkent's decision to evict the US military later that year from the airbase in Kharshi-Khanabad.
After all, the events in Andijan erupted within two months of the "Tulip Revolution" in neighboring Kyrgyzstan that swept the incumbent Askar Akayev from power and brought promises of democracy and reform from Bakiyev.
Tashkent's official reluctance to comment on the recent Kyrgyz crisis, characterized as "above all an internal affair," did not prevent its government from stepping up domestic security on April 8 in the border areas, and later sending more police officers to patrol the streets of Andijan to prevent the emergence of any instability.
Jahon's website referred to the potential for "destabilizing effects," spreading from its neighbor, yet only made this comment in the Russian language version of the website, and airbrushed it from the Uzbek and English versions. Government and pro-government Uzbek media reproduced this particular statement, but added no further details. Only independent foreign media, based in Uzbekistan, made reference to both the coup in Kyrgyzstan, and the absence of media coverage within Uzbekistan. On April 9, Ferghana.ru stated that Uzbek citizens were almost entirely reliant upon Russian television, limited internet access and foreign media for any information on the evolving Kyrgyz crisis.
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