The events of Kazakhstan, a country with an important geopolitical position and abundant riches, have received worldwide attention in the past few days following the eruption of violent public protests on 2 January triggered by the decision of President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s government to increase the price of “butane and propane”, known as the fuel of the poor due to its cheap price, from 1 January.
Consequently, protests brimmed with resentment against the pervasive corruption of the government, inequity in salaries and economic hardships aggravated by the coronavirus pandemic mushroomed throughout the country. The protests soon turned into omens of a popular uprising against the regime demanding the departure of former President Nursultan Nazarbayev, the de facto ruler of Kazakhstan, and led to the death of dozens of protestors and security operatives.
As the protests turned into riots and several security operatives deserted their positions and military uniforms and joined the protestors, President Tokayev seized the opportunity to declare a state of emergency, purge some of the commanders whose loyalty was questionable and sought the support of Russia to regain control of the situation. President Tokayev claimed in an address to the nation that the protests proved the “intervention of foreign hands” and that they were “terrorist acts.”
In a swift measure aimed at containing the situation, the government announced its resignation on 5 January and several members of the national security council, including former President Nursultan Nazarbayev, were dismissed in a bid to appease the protestors, while America called for refraining from using violence against the protestors, exactly as she did during the “Arab Spring”. The Russian foreign ministry for its part called for the need to “reach a peaceful solution” and a return to “normality.” The Kremlin spokesperson said “there should be no foreign intervention”, meaning “American intervention”, and explained that troops were dispatched to Kazakhstan to support the authority after it had been “targeted by world terrorism”.
Members of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation responded to the request of the Kazakh President to dispatch peacekeeping forces to maintain stability in his country and help his government get rid of the “terrorists”. News reports also said “security forces have succeeded in regaining control of the city’s main streets” following the arrival of Russian paratroopers who shored up efforts aimed at quelling the uprising, knowing that the areas that targeted the economic interests were in the city of Almaty which is deemed as the stronghold of the Russian community in Kazakhstan.
Having monitored the events, their causes, their eruption and circumstances, as well as the surrounding interests and intertwined relationships, it would be safe to say that the objective causes of the uprising against the corrupt regime were present exactly as they were in Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia and the Arab countries before the “Arab Spring”, with the difference being that the preparation for the Colour Revolutions and the Arab Revolutions were engineered, orchestrated and directed through training, supervision and media support, whose bridgehead in the Arab countries was Al-Jazeera.
However, unlike the situation in Arab Revolutions, in Kazakhstan where events reveal that sheer protests and livelihood demands were swiftly amplified by public resentment and foreign guided incitement for the sake of achieving immediate aims pertinent to America’s pressure on China as Kazakhstan is the only country linking major markets in China and South Asia to Russian and European markets through land, rail and a seaport in the Caspian Sea, and is deemed the juncture of the major Chinese project known as the Belt and Road Initiative.
The immediate aims are also pertinent to the Russo-American tussle in the Ukrainian file and America’s attempts to snatch the influence in the countries within the Russian periphery, besiege Russia and keep her in a state of tension with the West, especially as the talks between Russia, America and NATO on the Ukrainian crisis got underway on the 10th of January),.
This is in addition to the impact of the events in Kazakhstan on the Russo- Turkish relationship, considering that destabilising Kazakhstan would provide Turkey with a new bargaining chip against the Russians, and their impact on the price of gas and its supplies to Europe, since Kazakhstan is a transit route for Russian gas to Europe.
Hence, the tension in Kazakhstan terrifies the Russians and the Europeans who subsequently would be compelled to side with America in her talks with Russia over Ukraine. Although those loyal to America such as former Kazakh energy minister, Mukhtar Ablyazov, who resides in Kiev that is swarming with CIA agents, have been instrumental in inciting the Kazakhs against the regime, this does not however mean that America wants to generate long-term total chaos in Kazakhstan, since the Kazakh regime is more resolute than the Ukrainian regime, and toppling the regime in favour of the nationalist and liberal forces loyal to the West and hostile towards Russia could not be guaranteed since Russia would not stand idly by towards a threat of such magnitude, notwithstanding other considerations pertinent to America’s interests and need for 16% of Russian uranium and about 25% of Kazakh uranium to operate her nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers.
Hence, America dreads the collapse of the regime and its fallout on her interests; Kazakhstan is the leading uranium producer with 41% of world production and American multinational energy corporation Chevron owns half of the Tengiz oilfield which produces a third of the country’s oil, knowing that Kazakhstan is the 9th largest oil-producing country in the world.
This implies the presence of joint interests between America and Russia and previous understandings on Kazakhstan and on sharing her huge resources with the collusion of her criminal rulers. This narrative is corroborated by the way in which former Kazakh President Nour Nazarbayev collaborated with America and secured her interests throughout his tenure despite his strong links to Russia; in 2019, the commander of United States Central Command, Joseph Leonard Votel, described the relationship with Kazakhstan as being “the most mature and forward-thinking in Central Asia.”
What corroborates further the understanding between America and Russia in Kazakhstan is the fact that the latter had been characterised by political stability for about 30 years despite the Colour Revolutions that stormed the Russian lebensraum with US guidance and backing and never came close to Kazakhstan, the most crucial country to Russia and her lebensraum, which implies the presence of a reality that had imposed itself in Kazakhstan and in which both the Americans and the Russians had been endeavouring to exploit to their advantage.
The protests are expected to be quelled and the regime reproduced in a manner that will keep the Kazakh “cake” in the hands of Russia and America while the domestic cracks within the regime are expected to remain. It seems that the events erupted due to the corrupt regime, the deteriorating economic situation and the mafia-like tussle for power, as well as the bad and criminal distribution of wealth.
Kazakhstan’s GDP is estimated at $170 billion and yet more than one million citizens live below the poverty line. This is why Russia leapt to rescue the Kazakh regime in self-defence due to the threat posed by the situation on her negotiating standpoint with the US, her security and economic interests and her entire lebensraum, and to seize the opportunity to reinforce her military presence to secure and bulwark the regime against the liberal forces loyal to the West and the nationalist and “Islamist” forces which Putin dreads the transmission of their “disease” to Russia.
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