Behind Bars

Storm Over Kyrgyzstan

By Mumia Abu-Jamal

It began with rebellion in the streets.

In a matter of days, opponents of the government of Kyrgyzstan, a tiny, land locked country in the heart of central Asia, ran the president from his offices, and organized an emerging ruling council.

President Kurmanbek Bakiyev himself came to power after a series of protests charging electoral fraud against the former president, Askar Akayev and his parliamentary allies. Ousted president Bakiyev was considered the leader of the 2005 “Tulip Revolution,” and was thus immensely popular.

What went wrong?

In essence, the closer Bakiyev got to the U.S. support of the “War on Terror,” the more unpopular he became. He assumed more and more autocratic power at the expense of parliament and the people.

The U.S. is, not surprisingly, quite concerned about the ouster of Bakiyev and the state of U.S./Kyrgyzstani relations. That’s because, not far from the capital of Bishkek, is the Manas Air Base, where thousands of U.S. troops are stationed, and where there is also a 13,800-foot runway, making Kyrgyzstan the aerial doorway to Afghanistan, Pakistan and beyond.

And while Kyrgyzstan is now unsettled, and the final result is far from clear, it shows how populations, specifically Muslim populations, may respond when their leaders get too cozy with the Americans, and become perceived as puppets of the U.S. Empire.

This “War on Terror”, much like its predecessor, “The Cold War,” placed a premium on buying, co-opting or threatening leaders to do U.S. bidding, often at the cost of any real pretense of democracy.

Like any imperial project, it prizes puppets—something no people can support.

It is the flint and spark of protests and inevitably—revolution., April 11, 2010