| LONDON, April 14
LONDON, April 14 Following last week's uprising
in Kyrgyzstan, the main questions remain whether violence rises
and how the United States, Russia and China react to turmoil in
a country where all have interests.
The United States leases the Manas airbase to support NATO
troops in Afghanistan. Russia also leases a base, while China
has a long border with Kyrgyzstan and will be concerned for the
growing number of Chinese residents and businesses there.
A Russian official has said Moscow alone should have a base
Domestic strains appear to be the main reason for the
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VIOLENCE OR STABILISATION?
Around 80 people were killed in the uprising that forced
President Kurmanbek Bakiyev to flee to his southern stronghold,
and Bakiyev is now hinting he may attempt to go into exile.
The new leadership, led by former opposition leader Roza
Otunbayeva, looks to be in control of the security forces, some
of whom fired on opposition demonstrators last week.
The self-proclaimed government at first offered Bakiyev safe
passage abroad should he resign but on Monday said it was
planning a special operation against him after he warned that
any attempt to seize him would lead to bloodshed. It now says
says it wants to put him on trial.
However, on Tuesday Bakiyev hinted he could leave the
country if the interim government guarantee his safety and that
of his family [ID:nLDE6030BA].
What to watch:
-- Does Bakiyev yield, or does the self-proclaimed
government move against him? Does he have sufficient support to
attack in Bishkek or control areas in the south where he has his
power base and will hold rallies this week? So far, outside
powers look to be abandoning him.
-- What happens with the security forces? So far, they look
to have switched loyalty to the new leadership. Is this the case
across the country, particularly in the south? What happens to
commanders involved in shooting opposition demonstrators?
-- Does looting continue and is it put down? So far, mining
businesses [ID:nLDE63C1CJ] and the minority Jewish community
have been targeted [ID:nLDE6381CQ]. Does it target Chinese
businesses in the capital, as some previous violence has? If so,
how would China react?
-- The Ferghana Valley in the south, where Bakiyev has his
power base, has been the scene of ethnic violence in the past,
and there are some signs that tension surrounding the ethnic
Uzbek minority may not be far below the surface. [ID:nLDE63D0RF]
The United States and Russia are at loggerheads, although
neither publicly acknowledges this.
Washington's priority will be keeping its Manas base open
while a Russian official with President Dmitry Medvedev's
delegation said last week Moscow wanted it closed.
A senior White House adviser on Russia told reporters in
Prague: "This is not some anti-American coup. That we know for
sure, and this is not a sponsored-by-the-Russians coup."
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has denied Russia played a
part in the turmoil, but a Kyrgyz opposition leader, Omurbek
Takebayev, said: "Russia played its role in ousting Bakiyev."
So far Russia is the only country to recognise the interim
government officially -- although Medvedev warns the country is
on the brink of civil war. [ID:nN13106562].
On Wednesday, a visiting U.S. diplomat said Washington was
willing to help the new rulers, putting additional pressure on
Bakiyev to go into exile [ID:nLDE63D01Q].
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin approved a $50 million
aid and loan package for Kyrgyzstan hours later.
What to watch:
-- How overt is Russian support for the self-proclaimed
government, not to mention pressure to close the base? Does
Russia offer military support?
-- Does the uprising worsen broader Russia-U.S. relations
just as Washington hoped they were improving?
-- Do other countries -- particularly the United States and
China -- ultimately recognise the self-proclaimed government or
continue to support the ousted leadership?
-- How does China react? Analysts say it had lent money to
the ousted government. Does it shift to the new rulers, perhaps
sweetening relations with a new loan, or support Bakiyev tacitly
or overtly? Does it make any comment on the U.S. base?
Interim govt draws on diplomacy to seal rule [ID:nLDE63C14V]
Turmoil puts Central Asia on alert [ID:nLD638US]
Kyrgyz unrest plays into regional rivalry [ID:nLDE6360UW]
The United States has cut back flights through Manas, which
officials it has been central to the war effort in Afghanistan,
allowing round-the-clock combat airlift, airdrop, medical
evacuation and refuelling. [ID:nLDE63900R]
Pentagon officials say they have other options to Manas,
although they are more expensive, and the base is not in itself
U.S. officials say only around 20 percent of their supplies
into Afghanistan go by air, with 30 percent transported overland
through former Soviet states and 50 percent by road through
Pakistan, a route which is vulnerable to attack on both sides of
What to watch:
-- What happens to the base? The new rulers talk of
shortening of the five-year lease rather than outright immediate
U.S. departure. Is it able to operate fully?
-- Does the dispute prompt Washington to rethink its
strategy of relying heavily on transport through the Russian
sphere of influence?
See also: High stakes for US base [ID:nN08193339]
Russia eyes U.S. airbase in Kyrgyz turmoil [ID:nLDE6308W7]
Factbox on the Manas base [ID:nLDE63720O]
ECONOMY AND INVESTMENT
Kyrgyzstan's economic problems are seen as a big factor in
the uprising. Recent energy tariff increases have been unpopular
and many people are angry about alleged government corruption
and recent privatisation deals. The self-proclaimed government
says it badly needs financial aid.
As much as 40 percent of gross domestic product is estimated
to come from remittances from Kyrgyz workers in Russia, Russia's
Foreign investors are mainly Russian and Chinese, with
little Western interest outside the small gold mining sector.
Canadian mining company Centerra Gold (CG.TO) and London-listed
Chaarat Gold Holdings Ltd (CGH.L), both of which operate in the
country, have seen their shares fall.
South African gold miner Gold Fields GFJJ.J said groups of
villagers had seized one of its camps,one of a series of attacks
and looting episodes against businesses. [ID:nLDE63C1CJ].
Kyrgyzstan has no significant oil and gas reserves, although
Russia's Gazprom (GAZP.MM) is involved in exploration.
What to watch:
-- How long does the crisis last? Analysts say there is
already little Western interest in investing, but that buying
insurance at present would probably be impossible, potentially
prompting delays in any planned ventures. Does looting continue
or do the police step in?
-- Does Russia or someone else provide financial aid, or
does the U.S. agree to pay more for its base?
-- Most analysts say the uprising does not mean other
central Asian states are less stable, but might investors view
events as a sign of heightened regional risk and charge higher
premiums for investing in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and elsewhere?
(Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)