CAP Papers 179, CERIA Series, October 2016
By Franco Galdini and Zukhra Iakupbaeva
If the ‘Global War on Terror’ (GWOT) emanated from the United States (US), its consequences have been felt far and well beyond its borders, due to US adventures in Afghanistan and Iraq and their disastrous consequences for those countries, combined with autocratic regimes borrowing the same discourse of the fight against terrorism in order to stay in power and to reduce even further the already limited space for dissenting voices. This is certainly true in the Middle East and Central Asia, two regions whose study in Western policy circles post-9/11 has been skewed by a security prism because of their Muslim majority populations and the assumption that any Muslim is, by default, susceptible to radicalization.
Kyrgyzstan, long hailed as an island of democracy in a tough Central Asian neighborhood, has not been immune to this trend. The fight against terrorism has been and continues to be a powerful discourse for the country’s elites and security apparatus used to secure funds internationally and silence popular discontent domestically, while averting attention from more pressing matters. Significantly, terrorism is on everyone’s mind but the security services actively discourage research on the issue, preferring a near-total monopoly on information that the population is supposed to accept as revealed truth.