Violence in Kyrgyzstan: Who Benefits?

April 17, 2010

By Matt Johnson

Riots and warfare have ripped through the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan. As of this writing, President Kurmanbek Bakiyev has been driven from power, yet refuses to step down as President. While obscure to American eyes, Kyrgyzstan remains one of the world’s most strategic states, as it borders China’s vulnerable western border. Kyrgyzstan is the proposed site of several major gas pipelines linking Afghanistan to China. It is also one of the world’s major gold exporters.

Kyrgyzstan Palace

A police truck burns in front of the presidential palace in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan on the day opposition protesters overthrew the government.

Whoever controls this strategic state has an important entry point for the Chinese market and China’s massive demand for energy. As gold continues to rise in price given the world’s economic depression, this small country is more strategic than ever.

Kyrgyzstan is also the site for two major military bases: one Russian and one American. The American air base at Manas was nearly ejected from the country by Bakiyev last year. Only when the US drastically increased its rent payments did Bakiyev relent, but was considered untrustworthy as a leader ever since. This would have crippled the US war effort in Afghanistan, since this base is one of the main suppliers to the US forces there. Manas has been used as an entry point for the CIA to stir up trouble in Tibet and the Xinjiang region that serves as home to China’s advanced weapons testing areas. The Russian navy also has an advanced testing facility on Lake Issyk-Kul.

While Bakiyev’s economic record is generally excellent, as of late, the economy has taken a substantial downturn. Sporting economic growth rates upwards of 8% over the last several years (with tremendous help from Chinese investment), this rate has turned negative in 2009, with the added problem of rising inflation. In 2008-2009, industrial output declined by 20%.

Anti-Bakiyev rioting has not been unusual in Kyrgyzstan. Last year several major riots broke out as the economy went into a major tailspin. China has the most to lose in that much of the economy of the eastern parts of Kyrgyzstan is in Chinese hands. The rioters in this recent round of unrest have targeted Chinese businesses (yet have not attacked western owned businesses). China has invested more than $2 billion in this country over the last several years, an economy whose total GDP is $11 billion.

Recent unrest in Tibet (bordering Kyrgyzstan) had all the stamps of a CIA operation, and the strategic Xinjiang region has long been a major target of the American government.

But the real interest in the American establishment has been the elimination of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), an organization of anti-western powers that seek, among other things, “the protection of national sovereignty” from the inroads of the New World Order. This Organization comprises China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. India and Iran serve as observing members. Whoever controls this region controls the world’s energy supply as well as its major transit points as well as the economies of both Russia and China and a market of several billion people. The SCO has made the search for untapped energy supplies under Central Asia a major economic priority. This is the interest the CIA has in these riots.

Bakiyev has made it clear to the world that his government has a vested interest in protecting its energy supplies and gold reserves, and keeping the income from them in the country. This patriotic purpose made him persona non grata among western investors. The opposition has rejected this demand.

Kyrgyzstan’s gold mines have been underwritten by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and currently run by the Canadian firm, Centerra Gold. Bakiyev has been a major thorn in the side of Centerra, and has consistently demanded a larger piece of the gold income for the state.

It is difficult to see China’s interest in the violence, since Chinese investment has been a major target of the rioting. Russia too has a great economic stake in the country, as all of her major oil firms are active there. Only the United States and western investment has any real interest in this violence, and her recent history of involvement in Chinese riots in the west makes her a highly suspicious target.

The European investors in Centerra specifically have a great interest in removing Bakiyev, as he has been trouble for elite investors in the country. Amazingly, so far, the main Centerra mine in the country, Kumtor (which provides about 10% of the country’s entire GDP), has been totally unscathed by the protests. Opposition leaders held that they will not demand a greater share of the Centerra mines, according to The Turkish Weekly. Hence, Centerra sides with the opposition to Bakiyev, clearly giving it a vested, financial interest in supporting the violence, if not helping to direct it along with western intelligence.

Matthew Raphael Johnson, Ph.D. is a former history professor, a professional author, a priest of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and a VoR radio host. His Web site is The Orthodox Medievalist. Email him at   fr_raphael