Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Make Uzbekistan great again!

I'm skeptical that Mirziyaev can do much more than make Uzbekistan slightly less authoritarian than it was under Karimov, but if he does pull off a more ambitious reform effort, it could finally make Uz the cultural and political leader in the region. Uzbekistan has the most people of the former soviet Central Asian republics. It has some of the biggest cities, the best tourist sites (hey everyone, look at my holiday photos!), and its location plop in the center of former soviet central Asia gives it the potential to become a hub for regional trade. Under Karimov Uzbekistan languished and the much lower population but oil rich Kazakhstan positioned itself as the regional leader. But with Kazakh President Nazarbeyev's reign probably entering their sunset years, Uzbekistan has an opportunity to take the lead.

It just needs to open up a lot more, which would mean confronting and ultimately dismantling the clan system, which I guess is pretty unlikely consider that system is what put Mirziyaev into power in the first place.