Nursultan Nazarbayev is the President of Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan is one of the richest countries in the world in terms of oil and uranium reserves. Nazarbayev is a Muslim of Turkic origin, like most of the people of Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan). However for as long as the countries of Central Asia were Russian colonies, that is until 1991, Nazarbayev was a communist atheist, because that’s what Russia demanded, in order to prevent the Arabs, the Iranians and the Turks from using Islam to gain influence in her colonies.
However things changed after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Nazarbayev, who was the General Secretary of Kazakhstan’s communist party, and he knew how to “move” around, became Kazakhstan’s President, a post that he holds to this very day (September 2015). Kazakhstan does not want to depend on China for its oil exports, and wants to send its oil to Europe too, through Turkey. However Kazakhstan has to take Russian threats seriously before selling oil to Europe, which is Russia’s major client. Putin has declared that there was never a country called Kazakhstan, making clear what will happen if Kazakhstan decides to send its oil to Europe.
Nazarbayev is trying to have good relations with Russia, because Russia has the military advantage in the region, but he is no longer the atheist communism he once was, and he is promoting Islam, in order to come closer to Turkey. Nazarbayev counts on Turkey’s help to counter the Russian threats and send Kazakhstan’s oil to Europe. Turkey is in very good terms with Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, which both need her to counter the Russian threats and export their oil and natural gas to Europe, but she has problematic relations with Uzbekistan, because Uzbekistan wants the oil and natural gas of the region to move eastwards in order to pass from Uzbekistan.
With Tajikistan Turkey does not have strong relations, because Tajikistan is close to Iran, but Turkey has good relations with Kyrgyzstan, because the pipelines pass through Uzbekistan and not through Kyrgyzstan before reaching China. Therefore Kyrgyzstan does not have much to lose. However Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan are now talking about a pipeline through Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan to China. If this pipeline is constructed at some point the relation between Turkey and Kyrgyzstan might be affected.
There are three major influences in Central Asia. Russia’s military influence, China’s economic influence, and Turkey’s cultural influence (Islam). Some people call Central Asia the Middle East of the 21st Century. Nursultan Nazarbayev is dancing between communism and Islamism because he wants to sell the oil of his country to both the East and the West. As you can read at the following Bloomberg article, Nazarbayev has appointed his daughter as the deputy Prime Minister, because he wants her to succeed him in Kazakhstan’s leadership. Communists and Islamists have something in common. They are not very democratic.
“Kazakh Leader Names Daughter to Cabinet With Succession in Focus”, September 2015