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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Attempted Coup in Kyrgyzstan?

On a day that America’s focus was fixed on the presidential combatants at the University of Denver, a leadership struggle of another kind was taking place in Central Asia. AP:
Protesters clashed with police and tried to break into a building housing the parliament and government offices in Kyrgyzstan’s capital Wednesday during a rally to demand the resignation of the prime minister and other top officials.

Authorities in the Central Asian nation described the mass assault as an attempt to overthrow the government.

Police officers protecting government offices known as the White House used dogs and smoke bombs to disperse a group of young men who attempted to scale the gates.
Ostensibly this was a protest organized to demand the nationalization of a controversial gold mine. Today, Kyrgyz police arrested three parliamentarians who led the rally, two of whom, Sapar Zhaparov and Kamchibek Tashiyev, “are members of a virulently nationalist opposition party, Ata-Zhurt, which draws the bulk of its support from the south of the country, which was the scene of deadly ethnic clashes in June 2010.”
As Mead notes,  Kyrgyzstan is the site of a major U.S. Air Force base responsible for supplying Afghanistan, and instability there could impair our ability to draw down our troops. Frankly, the isolation of Afghanistan has always worried me--if the route through Pakistan was cut, and we lost the air route through Kyrgyzstan, our troops would be stranded. I would hope that there is a contingency plan in place, but I somehow doubt it.

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