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    Thursday, April 12, 2007

    Perennial Tulips

    They're back on the streets again in Bishkek, as it seems they have been ever since the "Tulip Revolution" (which was more like a riot that evolved into a coup) there in 2005.

    On one hand, the political pluralism on display in Kyrgyzstan has to be envied by those living under the repressive regimes in neighbouring Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan.

    On the other, a constant state of crisis benefits no one, least of all the ordinary Kyrgyz. I found this comparison of Kyrgyzstan now with Tajikistan in the early 1990s (just before the civil war there) particularly sobering.

    As Publius Pundit notes, there is a strong element of regionalism in all this, just as there was in 2005. Don't be confused by all the gaily coloured flags: politics in Kyrgyzstan is primarily about clans.

    At risk of oversimplifying, the Uzbek-dominated south seized power and influence from the ethnic Kyrgyz north in the 2005. Now the north (including many who were close to the ousted president Askar Akayev) wants back in.

    It's a tinderbox that the world needs to keep an eye on.

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