Thursday, December 21, 2006

Turkmenbashi Dies at 66 (Finally)! Now what?

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News is trickling in about the death of Turkmenbashi the Great. Preliminary reports suggest that the infamous totalitarian leader of Turkmenistan died of a heart attack today and will be buried on December 24 (Christmas eve). The People's Council is scheduled to have an extraordinary meeting to discuss succession on December 26. In the meantime, opposition groups in exile are claiming they are ready to return to the country. This could be the biggest test of post-Soviet succession to date.

Many questions remain. Who in the black box of Turkmen politics will influence succession? What is Russia doing now? What will be the role of Turkmenbashi's infamous Turkish, Russian, and Isreali advisors, especially Ahmed Chalik of Turkey? What of Turkmenbashi's son? Stay tuned....this will be interesting.

Anybody want to add their two-cents as to who will be Turkmenbashi II (or if one will exist)? Comments welcome!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is an incredible, exciting situation, especially for those of us in the region. The latent guilt is that such excitement is not created (as it is in democratic countries) once every four or six years due to organized regime change - but the shock of someone who has been in place, completely controlling the populace now no longer in power and a huge void only remaining - well, the only word is 'thrilling'.

The great hope of course is that there is no hand picked successor and that the people will be able through their own intelligence, and instincts, find the proper leadership. This is naive and not likely - but such thoughts are the positive, euphoric flip-side after years of observing a modern-day despot.

I doubt that the Boshi has anyone in place which makes the immediate future very frightening. Or, it may also simply expose what many have thought - that the Intelligence and Military Arms are/have been the real agents in that country, and they will guide the process of succession. They just need to find another stupid, obnoxious Fred Flinstone lookalike to fill in the shoes of the Father of Turkmenistan.

11:43 AM  
Anonymous James said...

Over the medium term, it is hard to imagine that things will get worse than they were during his reign; how low can you go?

12:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Too bad Shikhmuradov doesn't have enough of his brain left to come back. He was the only one who could rationally manage affairs.


4:51 PM  
Anonymous kzblog said...

Not my area really, but the word on the street here is his son will take over. I think the region is just so used to dynasties and clan mentality that they assume he must have set up a heridatary lineage.

10:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

James - things could get a lot worse. Picture those cute Seattle riots at the WTO meetings a few years back and multiply it by a factor of 10 or 100. People are willing to tolerate - even in these places - a not-the-most-comfortable life, in exchange for relative stability, given that they all have a history of being trampled over.

Doubtful that Bashi Jr. will take over immediately. Security services are not that dumb. My guess is an interim fix until Jr. realizes that the pension fund is dwindling down...then he jumps back in the fray.

10:46 PM  

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