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The Best One-Sentence Guides to Kyrgyzstan

A first step to understand the turmoil, the politics, and the history

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The turmoil in Kyrgyzstan is complicated. It can be difficult to follow the story's many intertwining strands: the chaos on the ground, the politics of the revolt, the history behind it all, and the meaning for the U.S., which leases Kyrgyzstan's Manas Air Base for use in the Afghan War. To help you find a way into the conflict, we have selected single sentence from eight sources to highlight the key takeaways, insights, and opinions.

  • Michael Schwirtz, The New York Times:  "President Bakiyev had promised to allow democracy to flourish in Kyrgyzstan, only to become what human rights groups called an increasingly repressive autocrat."
  • D. Dalton Bennett, The Atlantic:  "Bishkek is rife with uncertainty and apprehension, as order dissolves further, looters swarm through stores, and roving gangs flood the streets."
  • James Joyner, The New Atlanticist:  "Expediency has trumped love of democracy in this case, as  we desperately wanted to maintain access to a key supply route critical to our success in Afghanistan"
  • Alex Cooley, Harper's:  "The larger lesson for the Defense Department should be clear: placating authoritarian regimes with private contracts and pay-offs does not guarantee long-term stability of relations; in volatile political climates like Kyrgyzstan, it may, in fact, sow the seeds for discontent and political challenges to the regime."
  • Daniel Larison, The American Conservative:  "The latest events there should serve as yet another reminder that the Bakiyev regime has been significantly worse for Kyrgyzstan than the government Western governments and media outlets were so happy to see overthrown in yet another 'color' revolution."
  • Theodore Karasik, Christian Science Monitor: "It raises the possibility of having to renegotiate access to Manas again because these clans just want more money ... This was a big source of income for these families who came to power” the last time."
  • Defense Statecraft "The Kremlin may see his overthrow as an opportunity to force the U.S. out. A senior Russian official has said that Moscow will urge the new leadership to shut the U.S. air base at Manas, commenting that there should only be one base in Kyrgyzstan-the Russian one. "
  • Steve LeVine, Oil and Glory:  "Yet the lessons of the indelible images from Kyrgyzstan go both ways: For the trampled masses, they are a signal that all is not lost; for those in power, they are a warning of how easily matters can get out of hand."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.