Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Oil: For autocrats everywhere, the risk of becoming toast

From Foreign Policy's The Oil and the Glory blog:

Lost among the high-profile shakeups going on in the Middle East -- Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, Lebanon, Yemen, Sudan -- is a little development 2,500 miles away in the petrostate of Kazakhstan. President Nursultan Nazarbayev yesterday discarded intricately laid plans for a 10-year extension of his rule. If enacted, the plans would "set the wrong guidelines for further generations of politicians," he said.

Nazarbayev is right, but what about his substitute for the extension - a snap election in a few months that will add five years to his already-two decades in office?

We've been discussing how far the ripples of the turmoil in Egypt might be felt. Until now, only Middle East dictatorships have appeared to be at risk. But it's early -- it look awhile in the late 1980s before the Gorbachev-era democracy wave took hold, and longstanding political and commercial walls fell from Latin America, to Asia, to Europe.

Over the weekend, Russell Zanca argued on this blog that the former Soviet Union in particular feels impervious. To that list one might add Iran. When such uprisings have occurred in their midst in recent years, Russia and Iran have demonized their participants as stooges of western-inspired "velvet revolutions." Imaginative U.S. diplomats assigned to these countries themselves have conjured up an inflated role in events....MORE
Also at FP:
Just How Long Can Hosni Hang On?
This Just (Not) In: What's Missing from the 24/7 Cairo News