Patience runs out in Kyrgyzstan
The speed of the collapse of the regime in Kyrgyzstan last week has sparked speculation of Russian involvement, writes Paul Quinn-Judge in Sunday's International Herald Tribune. "But the explanation may be much simpler. Ordinary people carried out this rebellion...President Bakiyev and his all-powerful family caused the revolt, with what a presidential staffer once described as their 'pathological greed.'” Quinn-Judge, the Central Asia project director for the Ploughshares-funded International Crisis Group, recounts the most recent strains imposed on the population, including crippling price hikes and widespread official corruption. He continues, "Washington gambled on the Bakiyev regime staying in power long enough to ensure the war effort in Afghanistan. This seemed plausible, but it was wrong...For Washington and the West there are lessons, if anyone wants to learn them. The key one is that authoritarian regimes are not only unpalatable allies; they are unreliable ones. They block all safety valves — free elections and media, democratic discourse, opposition. Change usually comes in an explosion. Dependence on them is both miserable ethics and poor strategy."