Points of view – A Kazakh Conundrum

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Technical ministries seem to have replaced the historically strategic role of diplomacy and individual national foreign policies find little room for maneuver amid newly established global conventions. This Kazakh case appears to be an unfortunate product of this new distribution of roles.

In the foreign policy of a regional power too small to have much bearing on international politics, yet too large to lie back and unconditionally accept events that concern it, there are not only summits, treatises, UN debates and major negotiations. There are also small, unexpected events, mishaps, errors of judgement, human blunders and spanners in the works. The arrest and rough and tumble deportation of Alma Shalabayeva, the wife of rich Kazakh dissident Mukhtar Ablyazov, from Italy back to Kazakhstan falls under the latter category. As happened in France a few weeks later, the Italian police acted upon an international warrant and thus took the utmost precautions, fearing the wanted party might resist arrest. Their methods ended up being too rough, the number of officers involved excessive and the treatment of the dissident’s wife and daughter, the only people in the house, unnecessarily aggressive. Yet in other circumstances, had the police deployed a smaller squad and the operation failed, we’d have accused them of carelessness and incompetence.

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