The instant analysis by many political observers, as well as the Bush administration, is to classify Kyrgyzstan as part of the global domino effect of democracy. In the former Soviet Union, popular revolutions over the past 18 months have swept away the old order first in Georgia, then in Ukraine and now in Kyrgyzstan. But the forces at work in Kyrgyzstan are markedly different than those that produced change in both Georgia and Ukraine. Indeed, Kyrgyzstan is a classic case of the maxim: Be careful what you wish for.
From a civil society perspective, a happy ending to Kyrgyzstan's revolution is far from assured. While democracy certainly has an opportunity now to take root in a region that has so far proven inhospitable and resistant to pluralistic impulses, it could also turn out that Islamic radicalism emerges as the ultimate winner of the Kyrgyz revolution.
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Justin Burke is EurasiaNets editor.