Turkmenistan: Surviving the Despot

After years of dictatorship, the energy-rich country may defy predictions of civil crisis, because of clan weakness and the popular legitimacy of the ruling regime

The sudden death of longtime Turkmen dictator Saparmurat Niyazov last month has fueled talk of an impending crisis, possibly even civil war, in this energy-rich Central Asian republic. Such predictions are understandable in light of the erratic brutality of Niyazov's regime. But they overlook several factors that suggest Turkmenistan may be opening up instead.

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