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Chaos, Violence, Dynasty

Chaos, Violence, Dynasty: Politics and Islam in Central Asia

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    Chaos, Violence, Dynasty
    Book Description:

    In the post-Soviet era, democracy has made little progress in Central Asia. InChaos, Violence, Dynasty,Eric McGlinchey presents a compelling comparative study of the divergent political courses taken by Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan in the wake of Soviet rule. McGlinchey examines economics, religion, political legacies, foreign investment, and the ethnicity of these countries to evaluate the relative success of political structures in each nation.McGlinchey explains the impact of Soviet policy on the region, from Lenin to Gorbachev. Ruling from a distance, a minimally invasive system of patronage proved the most successful over time, but planted the seeds for current "neo-patrimonial" governments. The level of direct Soviet involvement during perestroika was the major determinant in the stability of ensuing governments. Soviet manipulations of the politics of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan in the late 1980s solidified the role of elites, while in Kyrgyzstan the Soviets looked away as leadership crumbled during the ethnic riots of 1990. Today, Kyrgyzstan is the poorest and most politically unstable country in the region, thanks to a small, corrupt, and fractured political elite. In Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov maintains power through the brutal suppression of disaffected Muslims, who are nevertheless rising in numbers and influence. In Kazakhstan, a political machine fueled by oil wealth and patronage underlies the greatest economic equity in the region, and far less political violence.McGlinchey's timely study calls for a more realistic and flexible view of the successful aspects of authoritarian systems in the region that will be needed if there is to be any potential benefit from foreign engagement with the nations of Central Asia, and similar political systems globally.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-7747-6
    Subjects: Political Science, History

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
    (pp. 1-16)

    Journalist Alisher Saipov left his office just before sunset. On a typical day he would be back at his laptop, drinking coffee to the ping of instant messages well into the early morning. Familiar to Western readers for his reporting withRadio Free Europe, the online news agency, andVoice of America, Saipov had recently turned his attention to the local audience.¹ His new paper,Siyosat, was a hit among the Uzbek-speaking population in his hometown of Osh, Kyrgyzstan. News-starved residents across the border—in the nearby Uzbek cities of Andijan, Fergana, and Namangan—also patiently awaited their copies...

  2. 1 A Post-transitions Research Agenda for the Study of Authoritarianism
    (pp. 17-47)

    I left an October 2009 U.S. government conference on democracy assistance in Central Asia with two thoughts: policy makers and academics have developed a sophisticated conceptualization of democratization processes, and this conceptualization of democratization is largely divorced from Central Asian reality. Our conversations at the conference focused on enhancing civic engagement, promoting freedom of the press, and empowering women and youth—policies Western governments and aid organization partners have promoted in Central Asia since the Soviet collapse. These policies have had little effect. Two decades after the Soviet collapse, governments throughout Central Asia are no closer to democratization than they...

  3. 2 The Soviet Origins of Post-Soviet Autocratic Variation
    (pp. 48-79)

    Central to understanding the diverging paths of Kazakh, Kyrgyz, and Uzbek authoritarianism are the differing legacies of the perestroika period. In the framing of this book’s causal arguments, I suggested that Moscow’s interventions to restore Communist Party discipline in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan in the late 1980s following each of these countries’ elite-destabilizing ethnic riots enabled the Karimov and Nazarbaev leaderships to emerge from the Soviet collapse with intact executive-oriented parties. Drawing on the insights of the Mesquita selectorate model, I illustrated how these large executive-oriented parties not only provide Karimov and Nazarbaev with greater elite loyalty, but also free both...

  4. 3 Kyrgyz Chaos
    (pp. 80-113)

    Familiarity with diverging Kazakh, Kyrgyz, and Uzbek elite institutions and the perestroika legacy model should have proved sufficient for anyone assessing the Central Asian political landscape in December 1991 to anticipate that politics in Kyrgyzstan would be far more chaotic than anywhere else in Central Asia. The formal model and institutional legacies presented in chapters 1 and 2 allow the social scientist to predict, a priori, the chaos, violence, and dynasty variations in Central Asia today. Closer examination of the Kyrgyz case, though, raises further complications. Kyrgyzstan’s first president, Askar Akaev, ruled from 1990 to 2005. Kyrgyzstan’s second president, Kurmanbek...

  5. 4 Uzbek Violence
    (pp. 114-146)

    Uzbekistan at first glance appears politically stable. In contrast to the elite turmoil in Kyrgyzstan, Uzbek elites thus far have proven remarkably deferential to President Islam Karimov. When one investigates deeper, though, potential weaknesses in the Karimov state begin to emerge. I focus on two of these weaknesses: the increasingly tense relation between state and Islam in Uzbekistan and the looming challenge of Karimov’s aging Soviet-era political elite. At the local level, in cities and villages, Islamic civil society has already demonstrated an ability to mobilize populations to meet the many needs the central Uzbek state does not. This Islam-centered...

  6. 5 Kazakh Dynasty
    (pp. 147-164)

    The Kazakh case, similar to the Uzbek and Kyrgyz cases, closely conforms to what the perestroika legacy model predicts. Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbaev, thanks to Gorbachev’s restoration of political order after the Almaty riots in December 1986, began the post-Soviet period with a united and executive-oriented political elite. The incentive structures characteristic of this inheritance, in contrast to the incentive structures that define Kyrgyzstan’s narrow and fragmented elite inheritance, heighten ruling coalition members’ loyalty to Nazarbaev. At the same time, they also reduce the payoffs Nazarbaev must extend to secure elite loyalty. The outcome of post-Soviet Kazakh politics is what...

  7. Conclusion
    (pp. 165-172)

    We began with the following questions: Why do Central Asian states with similar pasts exhibit dissimilar post-Soviet outcomes? Why is Uzbek politics violent? Why is Kyrgyz politics chaotic? Why, in contrast, is the only real threat to enduring Kazakh stability the question of elite succession and the Nazarbaev dynasty? The answers to these questions lie as much in Moscow as they do in Astana, Bishkek, or Tashkent. In the second half of the 1980s Mikhail Gorbachev and the Central Communist Party leadership intervened in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan to restore political order in the wake of violent mass protests. Gorbachev intervened...