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The Arab Spring, Kyrgyzstan and Reaping What We Sow

U.S. servicemen board a plane bound for Afghanistan at the U.S. transit center at Manas airport in April 2011.
Pundits and politicians have offered no shortage of explanations as to what inspired the Arab Spring.

Tunisian street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi setting himself on fire in December to protest his humiliation at the hands of a corrupt government was the literal spark that lit the flame of regional protest. But Bouazizi's selfless act was merely the tip of the iceberg: the yearning for democratic change has evidently been deeply embedded within the Arab world, the most resistant region to the waves of democratization that have swept the globe since the end of World War II.

It's doubtful that the masses that gathered in the streets of Tunis and Cairo were anything more than remotely aware of the tumultuous events that swept the Central Asian nation of Kyrgyzstan in April 2010, if they were aware of them at all. But in many ways, Kyrgyzstan offers a template for the revolutionary changes currently roiling the Middle East. There, an autocratic and corrupt leader, Kurmanbek Bakiev, was forced out of office by a massive street protest (which, unlike those in Tunisia and Egypt, turned violent). An interim government quickly took the former regime’s place, held a constitutional referendum three months later, and followed that with a successful parliamentary election in November 2010.

Read the rest of this commentary here.