April showers in Kyrgyzstan

They say history doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes. We had a shakeup in Ukrainian politics recently, and now another revolution in Kyrgyzstan:
The opposition said Prime Minister Daniyar Usenov had agreed to resign but President Kurmanbek Bakiyev has yet to do so.

The whereabouts of President Bakiyev are not clear but reports say that he has flown out of the capital, Bishkek...

Kyrgyzstan is a strategically important Central Asian state and houses a key US military base that supplies forces in Afghanistan. Russia also has a base there.
The Robert Report, always helpful on matters Central Asian, has a lengthy interview up with one of the opposition figures, a dissident in exile named Edil Baisalov. It's worth reading in full, as well as the comments. Al-Jazeera, Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty, and Eurasianet are all on the scene as well, the latter two being especially good resources.

The biggest issue for the US, of course, will be the impact this will have on the US base there. Whether and how President Obama involves himself will be interesting to watch -- and especially in how the US plays its had vis-a-vis Russia, which also has important interests in the country (there are suggestions that Russia may be pointedly withholding assistance to ousted president Bakiyev). That balancing act will be another important test of US-Russia relations. Also of interest will be the OSCE's reaction, given its chairmanship is held now by Kazakhstan; the OSCE has called for an end to Internet filtering of independent media sources.

Beyond that, the event is worrisome in its implications for democracy in the country. The March 2005 revolution promised transparency and democracy, but ended with Bakiyev, who has been anything but a democrat. But the trouble with revolutions in countries with already fragile institutions, like Kyrgyzstan, is that it creates a negative cycle: revolution becomes an alternative to democracy, the bullet the only viable alternative when the ballot is discredited. Even if shallow reforms do now take root, they will be far less legitimate than if they had taken root in 2005, and people will be more apt to consider revolution the next time a problem comes up. It also appears that the conflict in Kyrgyzstan is centered on tensions between the north and the south, Bakiyev having his power base in the south, which has so far resisted any sign of revolution.