Monday, October 11, 2010

Chronicle of a crisis forestalled?

The current issue (Oct. 14) of The New Republic has a good overview of recent developments in Kyrgyzstan by James Kirchick: Dispatch from the Knife's Edge (only the first part is available online to non-subscribers; also accessible through LexisNexis and similar services).

Kyrgyzstan was the scene of riots between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in June of this year, causing hundreds of deaths and resulting in a massive stream of refugees across the border to Uzbekistan (followed some weeks later by a massive return stream, as Uzbekistan's authoritarian leader kicked his fellow ethnics out).

Kirchick offers some post-riot anecdotes that indicate a process of dehumanization of the 'enemy' is well under way among certain groups. The rhetoric has not reached the level seen in pre-genocide Rwanda or the former Yugoslavia, but the situation bears careful watching.

On the positive side, Kyrgyzstan held elections yesterday and by all accounts they seem to have gone quite well, as the Guardian reports. It is to be hoped that the political reforms earlier this summer (moving from a presidential to a parliamentary system) will provide the proper incentives to local leaders to work together.

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