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...it was a dangerous world and we knew exactly who 'they' were. It was us versus them and we knew exactly who 'them' was. Today we're not so sure who 'they' are, but we know they're there. George W. Bush, January 2000 (Quoted in Rogers 2000)
The ‘velvet revolution’ that took place in Georgia in fall of 2003 had deep implications for politics of Kyrgyzstan. The former president of Kyrgyz Republic Askar Akaev addressed this ‘crisis’ in light of national security in his book Thinking of future with optimism . The representatives of the opposition have been regarding the year of 2005 as of ultimate importance for the future of Kyrgyzstan due to Parliamentarian and Presidential elections scheduled this year. The opposition-oriented deputies in the Parliament took several actions to secure that Akaev would not run for the Presidential Elections in 2005 such as writing petition to Constitutional Court. It also started talking about the ‘rose revolution’ in Kyrgyzstan. Generally, the question was whether the general elections are going to restrain the growing tendency towards authoritarianism or not.
The purpose of this work is to contribute to the debate on discourse of danger by examining how it is created in Kyrgyzstan. Drawing on post-structural theoretical work in critical international relations theories and newer ideas about “discourses of danger” on Central Asia, this is an examination of how representations of danger are produced, circulated and contested within contemporary Kyrgyzstan, and shows how they work in domestic struggles. The paper will not attempt to determine to what extent terrorism threatens the region. It will not seek answers to questions such as are terrorism and ‘disunity’ real threats to stability in Kyrgyzstan? Or is the threat being exaggerated? The central question of this paper is concerning the role of the elite discourse of danger in domestic power struggle, legitimization of power, in delegitimizing dissent and formation of political identity in Kyrgyzstan.
The methodology used is a review of the pro-government press in Kyrgyz language. However, this is not a classic media review, which assumes the media to be free and present wide public view. In this work, I am looking at the press, through which the former government ‘talked’ directly to the public. Therefore, the analysis is of the former government’s discourse presented through the press. I am looking at the issues of Kyrgyz Tuusu and Erkintoo from late December 2004 till mid March 2005. Erkintoo and Kyrgyz Tuusu circulated nationwide at subsidized prices. The former provides extensive coverage of government activities and contains the texts of new laws and presidential decrees, and the latter runs more intellectual analysis of Kyrgyz politics. Both fully supported the former President and government.
Theoretical framework and historical background
The discourse management is defined according to Isen Galip as strategies and the control of the flow and direction of messages, choice of topics, and techniques of guiding discussions for influencing outcomes. Discourse is not a sum total of semantics or rhetoric. It comprises above and beyond the use of language and symbols, messages never uttered but still communicated implicitly, concealed in utterances. Discourse management is in part a process of setting public agendas, determining the limits and flow of messages, monitoring their sources, impacts and limiting or remedying their damage. It also incorporates the selection of particular arrays of means, modes and media of debate conducive for creating favoured mindsets, ways of seeing, thinking, doing and being –in-the –world.
Critical theories of International relations
Danger is a core theme in international relations literature, where it is commonly discussed in terms of challenges to the ‘security’ or survival of a state. Dominant realist accounts assume that experts can rationally objectify threats that can in turn be neutralized by the employment of relevant security measures. It is this 'realist' account of the state that 'critical international relations theory’ has sought to unpick in recent years, through the writings of Foucault, and through him in turn Said, Butler and Clifford. I will use the writings of David Campbell. Although he writes almost exclusively about US foreign policy, I will argue that his insights can help towards a better understanding of the politics in Kyrgyzstan and the discourse of the former government during pre-elections period in 2005. The general applicable idea here is the representation of danger by governments in any kind of matters. By creating discourse, governments try to put anything that does not fit the policies of them outside the framed box of thinking.
Campbell is opposed to the 'realist' understanding of international relations that posits states as anthropomorphic entities motivated by 'needs', 'desires' and 'interests' assessed primarily in terms of the rational pursuit of power. For Campbell, foreign policy is not the external orientation of pre-established states with secure political identities, but rather boundary-producing practices central to the constitution, production and maintenance of American political identity . In examining the texts of US foreign policy (speeches, historical accounts, academic books, laws etc.), Campbell found them full with statements about the 'fundamental purpose of the nation', 'God-given rights', 'moral codes', 'the principles of European civilization' and the 'responsibilities and duties thrust upon the gleaming example of America.' In this sense, he argued, "the texts that guided national security policy did more than simply offer strategic analyses of the "reality" they confronted: they actively concerned themselves with the scripting of a particular American identity." In this respect, in Kyrgyzstan newspapers were used to spread the message not only about ‘objective reality’ around the country, but also interpretation of the ‘reality’ in a certain manner.
Campbell promotes two arguments. The first is the post-structuralist argument that all meaning is constituted through difference and that where the logic of difference operates it has the potential to transform into a hostile 'otherness' . This means that the political identity of a state is created by continual practices of demarcating the self from the other, those inside the state from those outside, a domestic from a foreign. Correspondingly in Kyrgyzstan, the elements from the new ideology built around Manas, were overemphasized in the newspaper articles to draw the lines between ‘self’ and ‘other’.
Campbell completes his thesis by asserting that foreign policy secures the boundaries of a state's identity by representation of danger. Campbell argues that this is particularly true of the USA, and traces developing ideas of external and internal threats focusing on the 'Cold War.' Campbell does not deny that events in Berlin, Korea, Prague and Vietnam occurred or were real, but highlights that they had to be interpreted as threats to the USA. Crucially for Campbell, danger is not an objective condition but a subjective interpretation: thus, the McKinley assassination did not lead to a 'red scare', whereas the Haymarket Bombing did, and the Iraqi invasion of Iran was not interpreted as a threat to the USA, whereas its invasion of Kuwait was. The study of foreign policy becomes an investigation into how boundaries of self/other are discursively enacted and maintained through practices of foreign policy that depend upon identifying some 'danger' to the state. The more important to a government policy that sense of danger is, the more it must be constantly reworked and updated in case it loses the power to legitimize certain actions. Campbell believes that his analysis applies particularly to the USA, but might also be significant for other states. Although Campbell's account of USA foreign policy was concluded to be less appropriate for understanding of Kyrgyz politics on the border issue during 1999-2000 by Nick Megoran, at the given moment it provides a powerful tool for interpreting the official Kyrgyz government’s discourse in December –March about stability prior to Parliamentarian elections of 2005. The Akaev government discursively talked about external and internal threats, first being the velvet revolution and the latter those helping the ‘revolutionists’.
Yet, critical security studies are not only concerned with representation of danger as abstract notions, but draws attention to the fact that the successful identification of a threat allows a state to bring up extraordinary measures of control over its own population. As Rawnsley and Rawnsley argue, ‘the threats from an external power are used more to secure internal benefits than external security’. Therefore, whereas realism takes the state as a given entity and ask ‘how can it be secured?’ critical security studies take ‘discourses of insecurity’ or representations of danger’ and asks, “what do they do, how do they work, and for whom?” In other words, discourse of danger is created not only to identify threats and leave it, but to use that image of threat and danger in promoting certain interests.
Government Discourse Management and the Media
The pre-election period, between January and March 2005, is particularly interesting due to the distinctive discourse found within the government-affiliated media. An analysis of the government press, namely the newspapers Erkin Too and Kyrgyz Tuusu (in Kyrgyz) and Vechernyi Bishkek (in Russian), indicated a coherent discourse regarding: the elections; the likelihood of a revolution; and, consequently, the risk to political stability.
It is hard to establish the exact agent responsible for generating the discourse. However, in the case of Kyrgyzstan, the government-affiliated press picked up on, and constantly elaborated, the main themes of the speeches made by the former president. The government formulated and communicated certain messages through the government-affiliated press in the run up to, and during, the elections. These included: notions that the ‘colourful revolutions’ in Georgia and the Ukraine brought political and economic instability in these countries, and that this would also threaten ‘peaceful’ Kyrgyzstan; and the idea that the revolutions did not come from a grass roots level, but were ‘organised and financed by outside forces’, which had in turn de-stabilised the political situation. The ‘outside forces’ were identified as the NDI, the Soros Foundation, USAID, and the US State Department. The OSCE and the remaining group of international observers were also identified as being part of this group. Additionally, the newly introduced exit polls were considered to form part of the strategies of the ‘foreign de-stabilisers’.
Utilising the ‘War on Terror’
Prior to the parliamentary elections in February 2005, the A. Akaev government arguably created a discourse of danger and instability. In this discourse, the key threat was the potential for chaos in the situation of a ‘revolution’ generated by outside forces. The government-affiliated press identified the ‘crisis’ of the ‘velvet revolution’ in Georgia as a threat to the national security of Kyrgyzstan, and linked that revolution to ‘external factors’. This resonates with Campbell’s notion that foreign policy and foreign issues have implications for domestic politics and for the formation of identities. The foreign policy of Kyrgyzstan, joining in with the coalition against terrorism, while contributing to the international war on terror, played a significant role in identifying dangers at home. Moreover, it moved the global rhetoric on ‘terrorism’ to Kyrgyzstan. The notion that the majority of the countries in the world are engaged in a ‘war on terrorism’ is embedded in the thinking of the people of Kyrgyzstan, and most accept the phrase without question. This was the line of the government before the elections 2005. However, while the former government further developed its policies against terrorism at home, the concept was also used as a tool to de-legitimise the opposition, labelling them ‘terrorists’. And, despite all this, during the election period the former government positioned itself against the ‘West’.
In an analysis of Kyrgyz Tuusu and Erkintoo between late December and mid March, two themes dominate; ‘velvet revolutions’ and ‘clean Kyrgyzstan’. Both are, arguably, part of this danger discourse.
The ‘velvet revolutions’ were presented as being a danger to the political stability that is said to exist in Kyrgyzstan under the leadership of Askar Akaev. The press portrayed the political stability in Kyrgyzstan as an achievement. This was presented in juxtaposition to the civil war in Tajikistan, the Afghanistan tragedy and the escalation of the Osh events in 1990. Moreover, the country was prospering, due to its independence, international recognition and the rule of law. However, the stability of the country was presented as being under threat from ‘tulip revolutions’; these would lead to civil war, bloodshed and instability. The following quote, from an article written before the elections, is indicative:
We remember how the Osh events divided us and our youth, and I hope very much that those who are organising meetings and pickets will not involve our children. Who can guarantee that there will be no ‘small’ wars and no bloodshed during a ‘tulip’ revolution? Thanks to the bright leadership by our president, we were saved from the development of the Osh events in the Tajikistan and Afghanistan tragedies. We have seen what it is like to be in war, and it is for this reason that we do not wish anything like this for independent and prosperous Kyrgyzstan.
The velvet revolutions were also labelled as being dangerous when seen as part of an ideological extremism. In understanding the discourse, one might ask, what is real and what is created? In such terms, one can say that it is a fact that people were setting governmental buildings on fire, that there were attacks on governmental bodies, massive marches were blocking highways, there were hunger strikes, threats of people setting fire to themselves, and demonstrative murders. Let us say that this is what happened in factual terms. In a different setting or from a different point of view, for example, demonstrative murders and attacks on governmental bodies would be referred to as crimes, and massive marches and the blocking of highways would be seen as political participation. However, the government-affiliated press was politicising the events, referring to a kind of ideological extremism which threatened the political stability in the country (because these actions were supported by ‘some political organisations’ and they ignored the law).
The use of the terms ‘ideological, extremism, terrorism, political extremism and ideological radicalism’ was intended to de-legitimise the opposition (who were engaged in demonstrations and velvet revolution). This de-legitimisation was done by creating a link between the opposition and the banned organisations, such as “Hizb-ut-Tahrir” and “IMU” (and, in general, terrorism of the kind that is a threat not only to Kyrgyzstan but to the whole world). In his speech to the Security Council, “On Measures Strengthening the Fight against Extremism and Terrorism”, the former president, Askar Akaev, identified four types of extremism: terrorism, religious radicalism, as well as ethnic and political extremism. According to him, almost all of them took place in Kyrgyzstan. Along with the Hizb-ut–Tahir terrorism, he said that there were growing tendencies towards extremism, developed through ‘demonstrative murders, fires and attacks against governmental bodies’. The main characteristic of these crimes was that they had the objective of de-stabilising the situation in the country. Furthermore, he identified ‘radicalism, through acts that ignore law, in the form of massive highway blocking, protesting acts, hunger strikes etc’.
According to him, there was a new phenomenon called “ideological terrorism”. This, the most threatening type of terrorism, was characterised by an ‘ignorance of the law and the state’ and was an ‘ideological attack against public order and security’. Clearly there were two forms of ideological terrorism, one of which involved Hizb-ut-Tahrir and its alleged overseas supporters, so-called human rights fighters. Another form was the ‘aggressive circulation (by certain groups, organisations and media involved in the political fight) of their understanding of the country’s development, social justice, democracy, freedom of speech and demonstrations, which is projected onto the society’. According to the former president, it was not only the ‘internal forces’ (the opposition) that were revolutionary, but also the religious organisation “Hizb-ut-Tahrir”. For this reason, this organisation was also seen as a threat to Kyrgyzstan’s national security and political stability, as it had a single aim of seizing the power.
DISCOURSE AROUND ‘OUTSIDE FORCES’
The Threat of ‘Neo-Colonialisation’
In addition to the threats of terrorism and extremism, associated with the velvet revolutions, was the threat of becoming a neo-colony in the 21st century. Kyrgyz Tuusu and Erkintoo published articles which explained what the ‘colour revolutions’ were, where they came from and who was behind them. According to them, the danger came from ‘external aid’ (vneshnie sily in Russian and syrtky kuchtor in Kyrgyz). The colour revolutions had started in Serbia, Georgia, and the Ukraine, and now they were threatening to come to Kyrgyzstan.
According to the article published in December, “the scenario was worked out by the USA ambassador, first in Serbia, and, at the time, each ambassador was trying to implement it in his or her country. The USA was funding the preparations for such revolutions, directly or indirectly, through NGOs such as the National Democratic Institute, the International Republican Institute, the Carnegie Fund, and the Open Society Institute. For this reason, the Kyrgyz state was forced to ask whether Mr. Young, the US ambassador to the Kyrgyz Republic, was a diplomat, or an instructor who was interfering in the domestic affairs of the country and exceeding his competence.”
Previously, all of these organisations had been welcomed, respected and recognised by Akaev. His government had quoted these organisations and referred to them as reliable institutions. However, due to the special political situation created by the parliamentary elections, as well as the events in the world regarding velvet revolutions, the government changed its rhetoric. Akaev’s government denied the fact that the people demonstrating on the streets were just ordinary people, and instead presented them as ‘agents of the external forces’ who got paid hourly and were provided with food and places to sleep, as has been the case in the Ukraine. If a ‘velvet revolution’ did occur, then it would mean that Kyrgyzstan had been subjected to the status of a neo-colony of the ‘West’ and its money. The newspapers blamed Ukraine’s former opposition for what was seen as the present ‘misfortunes’ of that country (Oppositisia Ukrainanyn ubalyna kaldy, Ukrainanyn koz jashy) and stated that Ukraine was on the brink of a dangerous civil war.
Externalising the Internal
In de-legitimising the idea of a velvet revolution, the government externalised internal opponents. The grievances and proposals of the opponents, such as Hizb ut-Tahrir and the opposition, were never reasonably examined or explained. This strategy externalised the opponents because, rather than being indigenous proponents of alternative forms of government, the threats to Kyrgyzstan were portrayed as external. Akaev spoke darkly of the "outside forces", whilst depicting those citizens of Kyrgyzstan who joined them as traitors, who were selling their dignity, their motherland, their stability and the unity of the nation for money. The labelled external forces were the National Democratic Institute, the Open Society Institute and the Soros Foundation Kyrgyzstan. Even though the opposition, who support the idea of a velvet revolution, were local and indigenous, they were dismissed as being external.
“Clean Kyrgyzstan,” was a long-term modernisation strategy, declared by former President Askar Akaev on February 5th 2005 at the 5th Kurultai of the People of Kyrgyzstan. From that point until the middle of March, the official government newspapers, Kyrgyz Tuusu and Erkintoo (in Kyrgyz language) allocated a page or two to the topic of, “Clean Kyrgyzstan”. The rubrics were entitled, “Clean Kyrgyzstan, You and Me,” and “Clean Kyrgyzstan”.
Description and Purpose
Askar Akaev identified five branches of his new ideology. These were: clean water; clean elections; clean technology; clean nature; and clean hands. The purpose of the programme was to renew and clean the country, and to develop the economy. The five branches of the president’s programme were directed:
• against corruption (clean hands);
• towards the development of water resource management (clean water);
• towards the development of an informational era (clean technology);
• at the protection of nature (clean nature); and
• at conducting fair and free elections (clean elections).
A Wider Interpretation
The discussions on the pages of these newspapers went beyond simply restating Akaev’s new programme. These themes will be analysed in terms of conventional and classic categories, such as economic, social and political stability, and national purity (or solidarity). Using Campbell’s self/other dichotomisation, where boundaries are enacted discursively, the analysis, in terms of these categories, will also be considered in terms of dichotomies, such as economic stability versus instability.
‘Clean’ versus ‘Dirty’
Once again, demonstrations and ‘velvet revolutions’ were presented as the work of the ‘internal forces’ serving as the catalysis of the external threat. This was done under the pre-text of fighting for human rights and freedoms. Velvet revolution threatened the democracy of the Kyrgyz people, it was claimed. Similarly, the theme of ‘Clean Kyrgyzstan’ referred to political stability by presenting ‘dirty’ politicians as a threat. The underlying idea of this theme was that only clean governors can guarantee political stability in the country. This political stability was now under threat, because the politicians promoting a velvet revolution were dirty. The following is a quote from an article published a week before the election.
A bad politician is “koomdun kolkosuna chykkan jara” (a disease of the whole society), and therefore in order to take care of the health of our fatherland, it is our responsibility to cure these ‘ill’ people by ‘explaining’ to them. The idea behind Clean Kyrgyzstan is that it proves, time and again, the holiness of our fatherland, and that nobody should touch it with dirty hands. Cleanness is a slogan of our holy Ala-Too. Our buildings, for the sake of our people and the future generations of the country, should be able to withstand earthquakes, should have clean internal ecology, and should be politically and seismically stable and strong. Certainly, no country has the right to intervene, from the outside, in our country-building. However, we need to punish and ‘explain’ this to the ‘internal strangers’ who want our buildings to be vulnerable to earthquakes.
One can trace an analogy here between the destructive force of earthquakes and the ‘threat from internal strangers’.
Another dominant theme was that of harmony. This also touched on political stability and stressed the importance of Akaev’s leadership for the unity of the Kyrgyz people. According to the newspapers, Kyrgyzstan was stable politically because it was under a strong leadership. The Mufti of Kyrgyzstan was quoted as saying that the president was “the shadow of Allah on Earth”.
“It was Akaev who led Kyrgyzstan after the chaos of the USSR collapse, when the Kyrgyz people did not know where to head and what to do. When Akaev is the captain of the White ship, which is being overcome by tsunamis, people do not worry about anything. They are wealthy with peace and prosperity!”
This political stability was threatened when people questioned the power of the leader and ‘hated’ the president. To hate the president meant to hate the people, it was argued. Only ‘ary joktor oz Ajosyn koralbait’, which translates as, ‘only the stupid can hate their own Ajo’ (the historical title for the head of Khanate).
The theme of harmony was used in order to defend the value of political stability over any other issue. The following proverbs, “Bekter ketet el kalat, betege ketet bel kalat” (grasses are not eternal, but the mountain is, leaders come and go, but people stay), and “eki too kagylyshsa, ortosunda mal olot” (if two mountains crash, cattle die between them), gave the message that it is not worth sacrificing the harmony of the whole nation for politics. Furthermore, it stressed that innocent people should not be made victims of two fighting forces. This is a quote from an article which was written right after the second round of the elections:
“Ancient, holy Kyrgyz people have always overcome any challenge with wisdom, national unity and harmony. The source and power of happiness is always found in harmony.”
The Kyrgyz poverb, “Aiyldyn iti ala bolso da, boru korso chogulat” (though dogs of a village are not united, they unite against wolves), was used to invoke the notion that the opposition and the government should unite for the holy motherland. Prior to the elections, the newspapers presented this social stability as inter-ethnic, inter-religious peace and stability. However, according to Akaev, the ‘yellow plague’ of the colourful revolutions was threatening the healthy Kyrgyzstani society. According to the article, everybody was aware of what a plague was for humanity.
“Our people will not allow the ‘yellow plague’ to enter our land and there is no reason for such disease. The western reactionary forces are greedy and evil. We need to understand that this type of politics will enslave us. Why should we sell our national interests and freedom for evil money?”
“We have seen with our own eyes how the “West” smartly used the religious factor to destroy the people of Yugoslavia. It is obvious that the leaders of the colourful revolution will not treat the ‘colonised’ country well. They are spreading the poison of slavery onto our people, but our people have always been free and will never let it happen.”
Expanding the Mankurt Myth
The velvet revolution was also portrayed as threatening the social stability by appearing as a ‘mankurt’. Chyngyz Aitmatov (a famous Kyrgyz writer) used the mankurt as a character in his novel, “One Day Lasts Longer Than a Century”, which is well known among Kyrgyz people. It is a legend about a bird which sang differently. During Chyngyzkhan’s invasion, a tribe called Naiman was enslaved. The Mongols tortured the captives and turned them into working ‘machines’. They ‘deleted’ the memory of men by putting a hot camel stomach on their head, which would then squeeze the head as it dried. The only son of a Naiman mother becomes one such slave. In the story, he shoots his mother when she comes looking for him. He is called ‘Mankurt’ because he lost his memory, he lost his identity and he killed his mother. This word is used widely to name somebody who is faithless and a person who has forgotten his history. In the current situation, the danger of a revolution conducted by the USA was exaggerated so that it appeared as though that country wanted, in a way, to enslave the Kyrgyz people and turn them to ‘mankurts’.
In one of the issues in the beginning of February, Kyrgyz Tuusu wrote that some forces wanted to turn the people into mankurts. It made references to certain groups which were supported by outside forces and planning to make a ‘tulip’ revolution.
“Imposing somebody’s will on others is a violation of sovereignty. In a wider sense, it is a method of turning people into mankurts. By imposing their own ideas on the people, and deciding the results of the elections, outside forces are introducing, on a large scale, the creation of mankurts.”
The themes of clean Kyrgyzstan, velvet revolution and harmony appeal to the new national ideology, worked out after independence, around the ideas of the unifying theme of Manas. One of the seven principles of Manas was the national unity and Great Kyrgyz Empire, the ancient Kyrgyz statehood.
The President’s Purity
Alongside the idea of “Clean Kyrgyzstan” there were also a discourse evolving around the legitimacy of President Askar Akaev’s rule. His image was portrayed as ‘clean’, ‘innocent’ and ‘blessed by Manas,’ to lead Kyrgyzstan on a new, ‘clean’ path. Happy and independent Kyrgyzstan is acknowledged to be an island of democracy under the leadership of Askar Akaev, yet it needs to clean itself from the dirt of colourful revolutions, the power of the “dollar witch” and traitors. The legitimisation of Akaev’s rule is presented within the framework of this theme by portraying him as a ‘clean’ person. Only a clean person with clean hands and clean thoughts can suggest a programme of Clean Kyrgyzstan. An unclean person cannot push through such a historical achievement. The Mufti of Muslims in Kyrgyzstan, Murataly ajy Jumanov, said: “the King is the shade of God on Earth. Whoever respects the King, respects God.” God is clean and likes cleanliness. The president of the country is on God’s path. Akaev’s good reputation is also promoted (whilst his unpopularity among the population is ignored) because ‘bad people are not capable of valuing true wealth’. A Kyrgyz Tuusu article states that, ‘Asyl barkyn asyl gana tushunot’, i.e. only good people can understand good, and therefore only intelligent and smart people can define Ajo’s rating. Certainly the programme ‘Clean Elections’ had the implication of only electing those who were ‘clean’ to rule the country. Clean hands are supposed to prevent corruption, and select those who are ‘clean-loyal’ to stay in power.
In earlier years of independence, Kyrgyzstan could not afford breaking ties with USA. But with the help of capital organizations such as IMF, and World Bank and after accumulating certain capital in his hands, Akaev used the discourse of danger extensively prior to Parliamentarian Elections. After the events of Aksy, when for the first time in years of independence, the population stood up for rights of arrested Parliamentarian Beknazarov and police fire killed five demonstrators, it was clear for the government that it is no longer possible to ignore the popular mood. The framing of the message through the press to influence the people’s thinking about a ‘velvet revolution’ was used extensively at this time. ‘External aid’ of western organizations supporting the ‘internal traitors’ was characterized as the ‘evil other’, against which Akaev was to defend the nation.
Dodds suggests that foreign policy discourse serves to create and police boundaries of identity that are ideological visions of who belongs within the state and who does not. In the material practices and texts of 'foreign policy,' official discourse constitutes and maintains a vision of Kyrgyzstan’s political identity. Kyrgyz Tuusu and Erkintoo discourse about the stability was a rewriting of the character of Kyrgyzstan, and framed and defined a particular identity. This was performed by the repetition of a series of contrasting images about Kyrgyzstan and neighbors Afghanistan and Tajikistan. Kyrgyzstan was a haven of ‘cleanliness’, ‘stability’, ‘unity’ and ‘harmony’ under the ‘shadow of the God’ i.e., Akaev’s leadership. In contrast, ‘others’ were ‘unclean’ and therefore ‘cleaned by Tsunami’, hosted ‘the democracy of Iraq’, civil wars and bloodshed.
I have highlighted the importance of 'danger' in structuring the Kyrgyz polity. Campbell argued that the representation of danger was integral to understanding US foreign policy, but was unsure how the model would work for other states. Although he did not use Campbell's theoretical approach, Newman has shown that for over fifty years Israel's political identity has evolved in connection with notions of danger, security and collective safety. This paper argues that Campbell's theory fits Kyrgyzstan well. The identification of 'danger' to the state was important in discursively enacting and maintaining boundaries of self/ other that constituted the political identity of Kyrgyzstan.
The representation of danger in form of dichotomization of ‘us’ versus ‘them’ extended into penetration of such divisions to issues that concern everybody. If an economic stability was guaranteed under the government, the ‘danger’ would bring economic instability and unemployment. Similarly, political and social stabilities were under threat of civil wars, ‘mankurtism’, and neo-colonialism in contrary to peaceful, independent and strong nation under the leadership of Akaev and his government. In addition, the heritage of Khan Manas’s unity and harmony is being contaminated and threatened from within with support of without. These practices and discourses were part of strategies that protected the power of the ruling elite. The omnipresent existence of danger justified sometimes measures of control and surveillance that enabled to it entrench its power base against opposition and delegitimize possible dissent.
Weldes J, Laffey M, Gusterson H and Duvall R, 1999, "Introduction: constructing insecurity", Cultures of Insecurity: States, Communities and the Production of Danger, Ed. J Weldes, M Laffey, H Gusterson and R Duvall (University of Minnesota Press, London) pg. 1-33 (qtd in Megoran, Nick .“The critical geopolitics of danger in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan” in Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 2005 pg. 7)
Akaev, Askar. Thinking Of Future With Optimism. Moscow Mejdunarodnye Otnoshenia 2004, pg.6
“Myrza Young, diplomatby je instruktorby?” Kyrgyz Tuusu, 18-21/12/2004
They performed the same role as the Kazakhstani terrorists in the Hollywood film Air Force One, who, Bichel argued, were essentially scripted to show that we live in a dangerous world and therefore their aims and goals were irrelevant. They were dismissed as evil others, 'religious extremists' or 'international terrorists,' whose beliefs are parodied and grievances ignored. Slavoj Zizek has described this general process as the "fetishisation of the radical evil of our neighbour into the absolute Otherness... which is rendered untouchable, unpoliticisable, and impossible to be accounted for in terms of a power struggle." Zizek, Slavoj. The Fragile Absolute, or, Why is the Christian Legacy Worth Fighting For? London: Verso, 2000. pg. 112 (noted in Megoran, Nick, Megoran, Nick. “The borders of eternal friendship? The Politics and pain of nationalism and identity along the Uzbekistan-Kyrgyzstan Ferghana Valley boundary, 199-2000.” pg. 88)
Tazalyk -Ala Toonun uraany sen” Kyrgyz Tuusu 15-17/02/2005 pg. 8
“Ary joktor oz Ajosyn koralbait” Erkintoo 25/02/2005 pg. 3
“Ata jurttun birimdigi yiyk” Kyrgyz Tuusu” 11-14/03/2005 pg. 9
“Elibiz ‘sary chumaga’ jol berbeit” Kyrgyz Tuusu 18-20, 21-27, 27-31/01/2005 4-7/02/2005
“Elibiz ‘sary chumaga’ jol berbeit” Kyrgyz Tuusu 18-20, 21-27, 27-31/01/2005 4-7/02/2005
Aitmatov, Chyngyz. Kylym karytar bir kun. Frunze: Kyrgyzstan, 1988.
“Airymdar bizdi mankurtka ailandyruuga arakettenishuudo” Kyrgyz Tuusu 2-3/02/2005 pg. 5
“Askar Akaevdin reitingi jonundo: Askar Akaev ak kishi” Kyrgyz Tuusu 11-14/02/2005 pg. 9, 11
“Muz kozgoldu” Kyrgyz Tuusu 15-17/02/2005 pg. 13
Dodds, Klaus. “Geopolitics and foreign policy: recent developments in Anglo-American political geography and international relations”. Progress in Human Geography, 1994. pp: 199-202 (qtd. In Megoran, Nick. “The borders of eternal friendship? The Politics and pain of nationalism and identity along the Uzbekistan-Kyrgyzstan Ferghana Valley boundary, 199-2000” pg. 107)
Newman, David. “Citizenship, identity and location: the changing discourse of Israeli geopolitics” Geopolitical Traditions: A Century of Geopolitical Thought, edited by K. Dodds and D. Atkinson. London: Routledge, 2000. pp: 309-314 (qtd. in Megoran, Nick. “The borders of eternal friendship? The Politics and pain of nationalism and identity along the Uzbekistan-Kyrgyzstan Ferghana Valley boundary, 199-2000” pg. 107)
Books and publications
Aitmatov, Chyngyz. Kylym karytar bir kun. Frunze: Kyrgyzstan, 1988.
Akaev, Askar. Thinking Of Future With Optimism. Moscow: Mejdunarodnye otnoshenia, 2004.
Campbell, David. Writing Security: United States foreign policy and the politics of identity. Minnesota: Minnesota Press, 1992.
Crooke, Alastair “It is essential to talk to the ‘terrorists’,” The Guardian, 10 Dec. 2004: http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0.3604.1370708.00.html accessed on 17 Dec. 2004.
Heathershaw, John “The Paradox of Peacebuilding: Peril, Promise, and Small Arms in Tajikistan” Central Asian Survey Vol. 24, No 1(2005).
Horsman, Stuart “Themes in official discourses on terrorism in Central Asia” Third World Quarterly, Vol. 26, No. 1, (2005)
Isen, Galip. “Discourse of Evil: Speaking Terrorism to Silence”. Reconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture Volume 3. No. 3 (2003): pg. 2. Accessed on 1 Feb. 2005 http://www.reconstruction.ws/033/TOC.htm
MacFarlane, S. Neil and Stina Torjesen “Distortions in the Discourse of Danger: The Case of Small Arms Proliferation in Kyrgyzstan” Central Asian Survey Vol. 24, No 1 (2005).
Megoran, Nick “The critical geopolitics of danger in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, (2005).
Megoran, Nick. “The borders of eternal friendship? The Politics and pain of nationalism and identity along the Uzbekistan-Kyrgyzstan Ferghana Valley boundary, 199-2000” PhD Dissertaion Cambridge, 2002 in Nick Solly Megoran. Accessed on 20 Jan. 2005
Reeves, Madeleine “Locating danger: konfliktologiia and the search for fixity in the Ferghana valley borderlands” Central Asian Survey Vol. 24, No 1 (2005).
Thompson, Chad and John Heathershaw "Introduction” Central Asian Survey, Vol. 24, No 1(2005).