The Turkmen Opposition

From the “I don’t know anything about this but I’m suspicious” files comes Nurmuhammet Hanamov’s op-ed about Turkmenistan in The Washington Post:

The United States must send a clear message to Niyazov’s holdouts in the “interim government” in Ashgabat: that they will not have its support unless they agree to hold free and fair elections — ones that allow all citizens of Turkmenistan, including exiled opposition leaders and political prisoners, to take part.

In particular, exile leader “Khudaiberdy Orazov, a former chairman of the National Bank and an accomplished and energetic leader” needs to be allowed to run. He’ll be able to rely on the help of the “thriving community of bright Turkmen students and intellectuals who are living in Western countries and are ready to return and help rebuild their country.” Never fear, however, we and Orazov will be greeted as liberators: “According to a recent poll, Orazov’s candidacy would have the support of a majority of Turkmen voters.” New regime’s key priorities?

Priorities for a democratically elected government during the initial post-Niyazov reconstruction must be to release all political prisoners, conduct open tenders and allow Western companies to bid for a stake in developing Turkmenistan’s oil and gas fields; to consider new ways of getting our gas and oil to Western markets; to restore private property that Niyazov confiscated from Turkmen citizens; and to create a reconstruction fund using Niyazov’s personal bank accounts and proceeds from the sale of oil and gas to revive the health-care and education systems.


Mmm…oil and gas fields. Seriously, for all I know this is totally legit, but it sure doesn’t seem legit. The author “is the founding chairman of the Republican Party of Turkmenistan in exile. Before announcing his opposition to President Saparmurad Niyazov’s regime and going into exile in 2002, Hanamov served as Turkmenistan’s ambassador to Turkey and Israel and chairman of Turkmenistan’s State Planning Committee.”