Name? Shavkat Mirziyoyev
Westphalian identity? Uzbek
Why is he in the news? Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev has announced a state of emergency in the autonomous republic Karakalpakstan where rare protests (18 killed, hundreds injured) forced him into a reversal on certain constitutional reforms. Under these reforms, Karakalpakstan would no longer enjoy sovereignty or right to secession. Reforms that will still be voted on include strengthening civil rights and extending the presidential term to seven years from five and resetting Mirziyoyev’s term count allowing him to run for two more terms..
Why do we care? Aside from his constitutional reforms, whatever one might think about it, the world is very interested in Uzbekistan making Mirziyoyev a busy state leader. China is looking to expand its BRI, Turkey just closed a defence and intelligence cooperation with the country and Russia closely watches every move of this former Soviet republic.
Why should you care? One of the reasons the world is interested in Uzbekistan is its climate. With 300 days of sun per year and plenty of landmass available Mirziyoyev is looking to explore renewable alternatives for energy production but international investors are also keeping an eye out. Saudi Arabian companies are investing in solar projects and liquid hydrogen to export green energy to other regions of the world. You should care 6/10 about these green opportunities.
Who else cares? Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi because we want to highlight China’s interest in Uzbekistan again. China just gave the green light for the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway, a project that will connect China with the Middle East via rail. Strategically importing for China to avoid US-controlled seaways and important for Mirziyoyev to boost exports.
Any further comments? Uzbekistan is a strategically interesting country for regional and global powers and its importance will only increase over time. Great news for Mirziyoyev who is on his way to pull a Putin on the country’s constitution, securing power access until 2036.