Today, Saparmurat Niyazov, the dictator of Turkmenistan, died of heart disease. He was one of the most brutal and quixotic heads of state in the world:
Mr. Niyzazov forbade independent news media and opposition parties, jailed rivals or drove them to exile, and imposed his name, words and image on all manner of public discourse and life. His face appears on Turkmen currency. His name, given to streets and buildings, is in such abundant local use that it replaced the word January on the official Turkmen calendar.
His pronouncements, many of them disconnected from the normal affairs of state, were sometimes strange enough to assume an irreverent life on the Internet. He banned video games, gold teeth, opera and ballet, and once encouraged his people to chew on bones — good, he said, for their teeth.
For the National Review
General blogger Mario Loyola, Niyazov’s death means a military strike on Iran is an even better idea:
It is possible that the incoming leadership (whenever it does finally settle down) will prove eagerly pro-American, going so far as to permit a U.S. base in the country. This would close the ring around Iran, and dramatically increase the tactical options (e.g., helicopter missions) for any future U.S. operations in the vicinity of Tehran, which is close to the Turkmeni border, and which includes several major nuclear installations.
According to a bi-partisan group of military experts — it doesn’t matter what direction you come from — there are no good military options in Iran.