- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating is associate editor at Foreign Policy and the editor of the Passport blog. He has worked as a researcher, editorial assistant, and deputy Web editor since joining the FP staff in 2007. In addition to being featured in Foreign Policy, his writing has been published by the Washington Post, Newsweek International, Radio Prague, the Center for Defense Information, and Romania's Adevarul newspaper. He has appeared as a commentator on CNN International, C-Span, ABC News, Al Jazeera, NPR, BBC radio, and others. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he studied comparative politics at Oberlin College.
Someone in the Ashgabat embassay has a sense of humor. This Dec. 19, 2009 cable from the U.S. Embassy in the Turkmen capital contains a not-so flattering description of President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov (my emphasis):
Our source said Berdimuhamedov is very clean and neat and requires all around him to be the same. XXXXXXXXXXXX When Berdimuhamedov became the head of a dental clinic, he insisted that the other men who worked there had creases in their pants. About 30 years ago, when Berdimuhamedov owned an old Russian car, he would leave it at home if it rained and take a taxi instead.
4. (C) Berdimuhamedov apparently does not think all Turkmen are the same. He once told our source that the true and first Turkmen come from the area between Kaka and Baharly in Ahal Province. Other people are not real Turkmen.
5. (C) Berdimuhamedov does not like people who are smarter than he is. Since he’s not a very bright guy, our source offered, he is suspicious of a lot of people. Our source claimed Berdimuhamedov did not like America, Iran, or turkey, but likes China. (COMMENT: Berdimuhamedov probably views other countries in terms of what they can do for him and his country, rather than in terms of like or dislike. END COMMENT.) He also asserted that the president is not fond of either Uzbek President Karimov or Kazakhstan President Nazarbayev.
The cable also contains speculation that Berdimuhamedov has a 14-year old child with his Russian mistress. His wife has been living in London since 2007.