In this week's column I wrote about the shameful back story concerning the recent revolt in Kyrgyzstan. Askar Akayev, the only democratically-elected president in Central Asia, was cut loose by Western bankers and diplomats in the late '90s because his former Soviet republic had no oil or natural gas reserves. Despite U.S. rhetoric about our supposed support of nascent democracies, here was a country surrounded by brutal dictatorships without a single political prisoner, without internal espionage or police state checkpoints--and we refused to help. Meanwhile we sucked up to dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan because of his 160 billion barrels in unexploited Caspian Sea oil (the Saudis only have 45 billion left) and the arguably deranged Saparmurat Niyazov of Turkmenistan, whose authoritarian regime sits atop the world's largest natural gas reserves.
I also said that the new post-9/11 military bases in Kyrgyzstan helped to delegitimize his regime.
The UK Guardian carries Akayev's explosive charge that the U.S. was directly behind the anti-democratic coup carried out by Islamist-influenced southern Kyrgyz:
Ousted president blames US for coup
Washington accused of training Kyrgyz opposition
Nick Paton Walsh in Moscow
Thursday March 31, 2005
The ousted Kyrgyzstan president, Askar Akayev, last night accused the US of being behind the "anti-constitutional coup" which forced him to flee the country last week, and said he would only resign if given sufficient a guarantee of his personal safety. In his first interview with the western media since he was driven from the central Asian state he had ruled for 15 years, Mr Akayev said "foreign interference" was "unconditionally an important aspect" in the dramatic events that culminated in his flight last Thursday.
"I think that their influence was prevailing," he said when asked of US government involvement in the mayhem that is becoming known as the daffodil revolution. He added that the opposition was "supported by the [US organisations] the National Democratic Institute, Freedom House, and other organisations ... They were providing training and finance," he said. The US has maintained an airbase near the capital, Bishkek, ever since it persuaded Kyrgyzstan to host its Afghanistan campaign in 2001. Mr Akayev said he was "in a health resort, with his family" in the Moscow region, and added that he expected negotiations with the opposition to start today. Asked if he was ready to resign, he said: "Yes, certainly, I am ready to help." He added that if the "constitution was conserved", and the the laws over the presidential post respected, and he was "offered guarantees of security", then he "would be ready to prematurely give up" his responsibilities. He said the only legitimate power in Kyrgyzstan was the new parliament, the body whose rigged election sparked national protests that turned violent and led to his flight. His comments came as the political struggle to succeed him among the opposition appeared to continue. Felix Kulov, a likely candidate in the forthcoming presidential elections, who became security chief after Mr Akayev's flight, yesterday resigned his post saying he had "restored order". Kurmanbek Bakiyev, his likely opponent and the acting head of state, meanwhile warned Mr Akayev not to return to Kyrgyzstan as his presence now might spark "mass unrest". Mr Akayev claimed that he would support as a candidate in the presidential elections the young Kyrgyz businessman Nurbek Turdukulov, who founded the country's main mobile phone network, Bitel. Mr Turdukulov is reportedly a business partner of Mr Akayev's son. Mr Akayev's rule began with cautious optimism in the early 1990s; he was a president seen as a safe pair of hands for managing the transition from the Soviet era. But he failed to alleviate the poverty of the five million people of Kyrgyzstan and was increasingly seen as an autocratic figure whose regime was riddled with corruption. There were also suggestions that Mr Akayev was seeking ways to extend his rule beyond the two terms specified in the constitution, as other central Asian leaders had done. Describing his flight from Kyrgyzstan, Mr Akayev said he managed to escape his administration offices 30 minutes before they were ransacked by an angry mob, and had been ad vised to protect the building with armed special forces, but had decided against it. "You know I am a convinced pacifist, from the beginning I was against any use of force," he said. "Preserving your personal power is not worth a drop of blood. And you know that if blood was spilt, it would have been the beginning of civil war." The former physicist, reportedly turned one of the richest men in central Asia, said of his flight: "I left in the suit I was standing up in." He had fled north with his family by car "without taking any things with us". He said: "But all these things, what is their importance?" He said he had then met the Japanese ambassador to Kazakhstan, Toshio Tsunozaki, for 30 minutes, before learning that his administration had been overrun and then fleeing to Kazakhstan. "I was informed they wanted to take me hostage," he said. "They also beat my close collaborators, including my press secretary [Abdil Segizbayev], who only regained consciousness today." He expressed his regret at the severe looting that enveloped the capital after his regime collapsed. "I feel I am guilty before those who I did not protect," he said. Yet one day he would return to Kyrgyzstan, he predicted. "I want very much to go back and help the acting authorities to return to the constitutional path, and to do everything to make the new president a constitutional one," Mr Akayev said.
It took three times, but Terry Schiavo's wish to die has finally been carried out. It's not a decision that I would have taken or one that I agree with, but it was her decision to make. Though it's probably too late for her parents and husband to find common ground, let's hope they finally find some peace. Most importantly, let's hope (or pray, if that's your preference) that Terry does too.
Bush, DeLay, and Congressional Republicans, on the other hand, deserve to be hounded out of office for the shameful way they attempted to capitalize on this personal tragedy. Never has such rank hypocrisy seemed quite so crass as when a party dedicated to perpetual war and the death penalty tried to pass itself off as pro-life.