Daniel R. DePetris: The Political Docket

What’s Next for U.S. Policy in Kyrgyzstan? Easy….Not Much

Posted in Afghanistan/Pakistan/Central Asia by Dan on April 17, 2010

Remember that brief post I put up a week ago about the uprising in Kyrgyzstan?

Well guess what… there is more news about the small Central Asian nation surfacing from the wires.  Evidently, the interim government has announced that the former president of Kyrgyzstan- Kurmanbek Bakiyev- has decided to fax over his official resignation (as if he had a choice).

So I guess the revolt is over; Bakiyev has been transported to neighboring Kazakhstan, his relatives are in exile, and his defense minister has been arrested.  The interim government is now in firm control over the capital (ironically headed by a former member of Bakiyev’s administration), and Kyrgyz analysts are jumping up and down in celebration of a new era.

The question that is now on everybody’s mind is what the U.S. response will be.  With a brand new government in power, bloggers (including yours truly) are jumping on their computers, pounding on their keyboards and trying to predict what will happen next.

So without further hesitation, here is my take; anyone who is expecting some sort of new renaissance in U.S. foreign-policy towards Kyrgyzstan will be disappointed.  It’s going to take a lot more than the collapse of a feeble and corrupt government to change how the United States looks at Central Asia.

Historically, Washington has never really cared about what leaders in Central Asia have done.  For over two decades, the region has been dominated by authoritarian governance, human rights abuses and political patronage; the epitome of corruption and nepotism.  Independent media outlets have been routinely shut-down by government authorities, journalists have been imprisoned by the state, and internet access is usually cut-off when dissidents try to organize rallies against political elites. Yet all this time, the United States hasn’t blinked an eye to the abuses.

For the past half-decade, the main priority for the U.S. was making sure the Manas air-base in Kyrgyzstan was open and ready to rock.  50,000 American troops passed through the base last year on their way to Afghanistan, and with more troops on their way to Kandahar this summer, you can bet that Washington is going to do everything in its power to keep it functioning.

As long as U.S. troops are fighting in Afghanistan, this will be America’s primary objective in Central Asia, regardless of what type of government exists.  The promotion of democratic reform may have to wait for a few more years.  Come July 2011, then we’ll see if this calculus changes.

-Daniel R. DePetris

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**Comments courtesy of FP’s Shadow Government**

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3 Responses

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  1. Jumabay Jorobaev said, on April 17, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    This is an American familiarity as usual. Keeping the silence while burning. No need to open the history book, just the World War 2nd is sufficient as an example. US is waiting for an appropriate time to cut a deal, not only to cut a deal maybe show itself the most reliable government. Mr.George would have a lot of expectations from Kykeng(Mr.Kyrgyz). Why the US government is still supporting the official president Bakiev? In my opinion silence means support, cos Bakiev could play with both sides. Face off….. ‘Gancy’ US Air Base is so important that it could cut the legal drug supply to US, as Russians do. Kyrgyzstan is still holding the status of having Air Bases of both U.S and Russia.

  2. Anonymous 10 said, on April 17, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    April 15, 2010, Businessweek by Nariman Gizitdinov and Lucian Kim

    “The U.S. is negotiating a ‘serious’ economic aid package for Kyrgyzstan after Russia agreed to contribute $50 million to the provisional government that came to power in a violent uprising last week. ‘The Americans also plan to give us serious emergency aid,’ Edil Baisalov, the interim government’s chief of staff, said by telephone from Bishkek today. ‘We’re still specifying the amount,’ he said, adding that the aid will come as cash. The U.S. and Russia have been jostling for influence in the Central Asian nation since 2001, when the U.S. Air Force opened a base outside Bishkek to support operations in Afghanistan. Russia, which established an air base two years later, is seeking to expand its military and economic presence in the former Soviet republic. Mr. Bakiyev has been playing a double game with Moscow. He took billions from Moscow promising to allow a Russian Air Force base in Kyrgyzstan. He did evict American presence on the base but allowed the US to establish another base nearby–charging Washington rent.”

  3. […] What’s Next for U.S. Policy in Kyrgyzstan? Easy…Not Much “ Daniel … By Dan So without further hesitation, here is my take; anyone who is expecting some sort of new renaissance in U.S. foreign-policy towards Kyrgyzstan will be disappointed. It’s going to take a lot more than the collapse of a feeble and corrupt … depetris.wordpress.com/2010/04/17/whats-next-for-u-s-policy-in-kyrgyzstan-easy-not-much/ […]


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