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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Ongoing revolutions in Asia

Surely you have already read/watched/heard about the takeover of Kyrgyzstan by the opposition after some major clashes and of the growing and extremely daring pressure of the
Red Shirts in Thailand, who are in practice taking the capital in defiance of the state of emergency and even stormed Parliament yesterday.

These revolutions are reactions to poverty, nepotism, corruption and autocracy, of course. In the case of Kyrgyzstan, it seems to lack any effective revolutionary project (what may result in further instability), but it is not so clearly the case with the Thai Red Shirts movement.

Whatever the case, what is clear to me is that these revolutions (we'll see if the Red Shirts succeed but it looks rather likely) have geopolitical implications that we cannot ignore (besides our best wishes for dignity, justice and freedom for all): both countries are key US allies in Asia, hosting bases, and both are rather close to China.

In the Thai case, the implications are fairly clear: China supports Cambodia, which in turn supports the Red Shirts movement in a bid to fight from the inside its powerful and authoritarian Thai neighbor. In the Kyrgyz case the situation is slightly more complicated for the presence and interests of Russia, which stands between China and the Western bloc and also has a military base in the impoverished nation. Russia, naturally has denied any influence in the revolt but from the geopolitical viewpoint it cannot be ignored the recent developments in the former USSR region, all favorable to Russia (Georgia war, power shift in Ukraine). So it is difficult to say whether it's China or Russia or both the ones lurking behind the Kyrgyz revolution. In any case, it's not too favorable in principle to US interests, whose only base in Central Asia is precisely in that country.

Geopolitics apart, there is another lesson to be learnt in these revolutions: that a rotten autocratic government is a ripe fruit waiting to fall down, that revolutions can happen and do happen when the conditions are propitious. Whether these revolutions can solve the problems that caused them is another matter but certainly there is no such possibility if the causants of misery and oppression remain in charge.

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