Where in December 2011 – on the Mangyshlak Peninsula – unrest began again among the workers of the oil and gas fields. Their hard and harmful work is paid poorly, and the Kazakh elite from the Shapyrashty clan of the Uysun Senior Zhuz union (about the zhuzes here) live fat. Nazarbayev and all his relatives belong to this clan, including influential nephews - General Samat Abish Satybaldy - the first deputy head of the NCB (Kazakh KGB) and dollar billionaire Kairat Satybaldy.
The new president of Kazakhstan since 2019, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, is also a native of the Elder Zhuz, but from another tribe zhalayir (Kushik clan). In the system of Kazakh clans, he is a "poor" distant relative hired by the rich.
But the soldier who does not dream of the marshal's rod is bad.
It is clear that Tokayev dreamed of it. But all power structures were controlled through his clan by the old Elbasy. And Kassym-Jomart smiled and waited.
And lo and behold, the cards were laid.
In Novy Uzen (Zhanaozen) unrest began. They quickly spread throughout almost Kazakhstan. Only the Russian-speaking outskirts - Petropavlovsk, Ust-Kamenogorsk - remained calm.
The Kazakhs were well aware of what they were demanding.
The abolition of the clan power of Shapyrashta and the equal participation of all zhuzes and clans in the social and financial life of the country. This desire was shared by Westernized intellectuals and technocrats, as well-to-day workers in wells and mines. None of them, except for the members of Shapyrashta, needed a clan state. Some outgrew it, getting used to Europe, others it prevented them from making their small careers.
This was taken advantage of by the "poor relative" Tokayev.
Kazakhs remembered that in December 2011 Nazarbayev and his relatives shot a protest of workers in Aktau and Zhanaozen. Probably hundreds of people died. And he decided not to use force, but, on the contrary, to reassure the protesters and thereby push them to more radical political demands. The security forces were ordered not to use weapons. Gas prices were immediately returned to their previous level. And literally in a matter of hours, Tokayev promised the continuation of reforms, dissolved the Council of Ministers and announced that he would prepare new, democratic elections. Elbasy (Nazarbayev) himself and his relatives, the security forces, were removed from power.
The coup took place gracefully.
It should not be forgotten that Kazakhstan lives by Western investments.
Nazarbayev once dreamed of becoming a Central Asian Lee Kuan Yew, but the Bolshevik past fatally hindered him – he remained a Soviet functionary. And Tokayev, who served as ambassador to Singapore, knew very well this image of an enlightened despot who prepared his people for democracy and gave them wealth, and, he thought, not without reason, which corresponds to him much better than "grandfather".
Hence all the curtseys towards democracy.
Tokayev wanted to strengthen Kazakhstan's turn towards the West, without spoiling relations with Putin's Russia and, most importantly for him, to get rid of the omnipotence of the Shapyrashty clan, becoming the father of the nation himself, as Singapore's Lee once became.
Peaceful protests, demands for democracy and hatred of the Nazarbayev clan have brought tens of thousands of people to the streets. But the leaders of the ruling clan did not sleep. The wise and cruel Elbasy (Nazarbayev) immediately realized that Tokayev had come out of obedience. But what could he do, a sick 81-year-old man? But his nephews could do a lot.
The younger generation of the Shapırashti clan is looking at the co-religionist Islamic world.
Many, including Nursultan's nephews, are fascinated by Islamic radicalism. The Taliban's victory in Afghanistan in August 2021 inspired them. What is their northern neighbor if the co-religionist south promises them everything from Pakistan's nuclear umbrella to the saudi golden shower?
If Tokayev bet on the West and democracy, then the Satybaldy brothers bet on the world of radical Islam. And they are followed by many, especially from the Elder Zhuz. Look at the map - Senior Zhuz is just the south-east of Kazakhstan - Almaty, Taraz, Chemkent. Here is the backbone of the Uysun Union, and these are the most Islamized areas of the republic.
Seeing that they were removed by Tokayev from power, Nazarbayev's nephews quickly mobilized ordinary illiterate people of the south, yesterday's residents of the villages of the foothills of the Karatau and charyn valley. I think they have been preparing for such a response for a long time, putting like-minded radical Islamists in all important positions in the power structures of the country and, especially in the southern regions. And ideas connect people much more strongly than clans.
And therefore, when frightened by the scale of the peaceful protest, which already demanded his removal, Tokayev decided to call his troops , the troops did not come out. General Samat Abish gave a different order. And in the city of Almaty, abandoned by the security forces, the two-million-strong city of Almaty began to pour in - natives of the villages, unanimous and co-religionist and the Taliban, and their radiant adherents in the Kazakh elite.
My friends among the peaceful demonstrators tell how dozens of Kazakh guys in down jackets, quickly pushing them aside, threw Molotov cocktails at the building of the Almaty city administration. And the KNB itself allowed them to quickly arm themselves and handed over the equipment.
When Tokayev realized that all the siloviki were either hiding or opposed him, he rejected, to Putin's delight, his cunning plans to become the new Lee Kuan Yew, and bowed to the Kremlin.