Central Asia: October 1, 2003


Turkmenistan is having a hard time making the armed forces work. The "president for life" (a dictator in all but name) is trying to reform the armed forces by changing the rank names back to the ancient Turkish ones ("leader of ten" instead of sergeant) and make troops forget the fact that they are being conscripted for two years mainly to harvest cotton, work on building roads and doing other non-military labor. Unrest is growing, but it has no focus.


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