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Monday, June 28, 2010

The April 2010 Coup in Kyrgyzstan and its Aftermath: Context and Implications for U.S. Interests


Jim Nichol
Specialist in Russian and Eurasian Affairs

Kyrgyzstan is a small and poor country in Central Asia that gained independence in 1991 with the breakup of the Soviet Union (see Figure A-1). It has developed a notable but fragile civil society. Progress in democratization has been set back by problematic elections (one of which helped precipitate a coup in 2005 that brought Kurmanbek Bakiyev to power), contention over constitutions, and corruption. The April 2010 coup appears to have been triggered by popular discontent over rising utility prices and government repression. After two days of popular unrest in the capital of Bishkek and other cities, opposition politicians ousted the Bakiyev administration on April 8 and declared an interim government pending a new presidential election in six months. Roza Otunbayeva, a former foreign minister and ambassador to the United States, was declared the acting prime minister. A referendum on a new constitution establishing a parliamentary form of government is scheduled to be held on June 27, 2010, to be followed by parliamentary elections on October 10, 2010, and a presidential election in December 2011.

On the night of June 10-11, 2010, ethnic-based violence escalated in the city of Osh in southern Kyrgyzstan, and over the next few days intensified and spread to other localities. The violence may have resulted in up to a thousand or more deaths and injuries and up to 100,000 or more displaced persons, most of them ethnic Uzbeks who have fled to neighboring Uzbekistan.

The United States has been interested in helping Kyrgyzstan to enhance its sovereignty and territorial integrity, increase democratic participation and civil society, bolster economic reform and development, strengthen human rights, prevent weapons proliferation, and more effectively combat transnational terrorism and trafficking in persons and narcotics. The significance of Kyrgyzstan to the United States increased after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States. The Kyrgyz government permitted the United States to establish a military base at the Manas international airport outside Bishkek that trans-ships personnel, equipment, and supplies to support U.S. and NATO operations in Afghanistan. The former Bakiyev government had renegotiated a lease on the airbase in June 2009 (it was renamed the Manas Transit Center), in recognition that ongoing instability in Afghanistan jeopardized regional security. Otunbayeva has declared that the interim government will uphold Kyrgyzstan's existing foreign policy, including the presence of the transit center, although some changes to the lease may be sought in the future. She also has launched an investigation of corrupt dealings by the previous government on fuel contracts and other services for the transit center.

Cumulative U.S. budgeted assistance to Kyrgyzstan for FY1992-FY2008 was $953.5 million (FREEDOM Support Act and agency funds). Kyrgyzstan ranks third in such aid per capita among the Soviet successor states, indicative of U.S. government and congressional support in the early 1990s for its apparent progress in making reforms and more recently to support anti-terrorism, border protection, and operations in Afghanistan.

As Congress and the Administration consider how to assist democratic and economic transformation in Kyrgyzstan, several possible programs have been suggested, including those to buttress civil rights, bolster political institutions and the rule of law, and encourage private sector economic growth. (See also CRS Report RL33458, Central Asia: Regional Developments and Implications for U.S. Interests, by Jim Nichol.) 
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Date of Report: June 15, 2010
Number of Pages: 19
Order Number: R41178
Price: $29.95

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
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Friday, June 18, 2010

Central Asia: Regional Developments and Implications for U.S. Interests

Jim Nichol
Specialist in Russian and Eurasian Affairs

U.S. policy toward the Central Asian states has aimed at facilitating their cooperation with U.S. and NATO stabilization efforts in Afghanistan and their efforts to combat terrorism, proliferation, and trafficking in arms, drugs, and persons. Other U.S. objectives have included promoting free markets, democratization, human rights, energy development, and the forging of East-West and Central Asia-South Asia trade links. Such policies aim to help the states become what various U.S. administrations have considered to be responsible members of the international community rather than to degenerate into xenophobic, extremist, and anti-Western regimes that contribute to wider regional conflict and instability. 

Soon after the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, all the Central Asian "front-line" states offered overflight and other support for coalition anti-terrorism efforts in Afghanistan. Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan hosted coalition troops and provided access to airbases. In 2003, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan also endorsed coalition military action in Iraq. About two dozen Kazakhstani troops served in Iraq until late 2008. Uzbekistan rescinded U.S. basing rights in 2005 after the United States criticized the reported killing of civilians in the town of Andijon. In early 2009, Kyrgyzstan ordered a U.S. base in that country to close, allegedly because of Russian inducements and U.S. reluctance to meet Kyrgyz requests for greatly increased lease payments. An agreement on continued U.S. use of the "transit center" was reached in June 2009. In 2009, most of the regional states also agreed to become part of a Northern Distribution Route for the transport of U.S. and NATO military and related materials to Afghanistan. The status of the "transit center" was in doubt after an April 2010 coup in Kyrgyzstan, but the interim leadership soon stated that the "transit center" would remain in place. 

Policymakers have tailored U.S. policy in Central Asia to the varying characteristics of these states. U.S. interests in Kazakhstan have included securing and eliminating Soviet-era nuclear and biological weapons materials and facilities. U.S. energy firms have invested in oil and natural gas development in Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, and successive administrations have backed diverse export routes to the West for these resources. U.S. policy toward Kyrgyzstan has long included support for democratization. In Tajikistan, the United States pledged to assist in its economic reconstruction following that country's 1992-1997 civil war. U.S. relations with Uzbekistan—the most populous state in the heart of the region—were cool after 2005, but recently have improved. Since the 2008 global economic downturn, more U.S. humanitarian, health, and education assistance has been provided to hard-struck Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. 

The second session of the 111th Congress is likely to continue to be at the forefront in advocating increased U.S. ties with Central Asia, and in providing backing for the region for the transit of equipment and supplies for U.S.-led stabilization efforts in Afghanistan. Congress is likely to pursue these goals through hearings and legislation on humanitarian, economic, and democratization assistance, security issues, and human rights. Ongoing congressional interests are likely to include boosting regional border and customs controls and other safeguards to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), combat trafficking in persons and drugs, encourage regional integration with South Asia and Europe, advance energy security, and counter terrorism. Support for these goals also contributes to stabilization and reconstruction operations by the United States and NATO in Afghanistan. For several years, Congress has placed conditions on assistance to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan—because of concerns about human rights abuses and lagging democratization—which have affected some U.S. security ties. Congress will continue to consider how to balance these varied U.S. interests in the region.


Date of Report: May 28, 2010
Number of Pages: 44
Order Number: RL33458
Price: $29.95

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail Penny Hill Press or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Azerbaijan: Recent Developments and U.S. Interests

Jim Nichol
Specialist in Russian and Eurasian Affairs

This report discusses political, economic, and security challenges facing Azerbaijan, including the unsettled conflict in the breakaway Nagorno Karabakh region. A table provides basic facts and biographical information. Related products include CRS Report RL33453, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia: Political Developments and Implications for U.S. Interests, by Jim Nichol.


Date of Report: June 3, 2010
Number of Pages: 13
Order Number: 97-522
Price: $29.95

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail Penny Hill Press or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.