Saturday, July 17, 2010

Mystery Also Surrounds Pentagon Payment Schemes For Turkmen Transit Facilities


Deirdre Tynan

… But is silent about the size of payments....

Agreement between the U.S. military and the Turkmen authorities are not regulated by the Interstate Agreement on the status of the armed forces, as is usually done, and next to the diplomatic notes....

For over six years, the Pentagon paid the Turkmen authorities for the use of airports this Central Asian country. However, officials in Washington did not want or can not tell how much was paid to Ashgabat from 2002 to 2008. Everything they say, is that payments to the address of Turkmenistan were not intentional.

According to the flight notification NOTAM from 2009, these payments to the Turkmen were to be made at the expense of the State Administration of Civil Aviation through correspondent accounts in Deutsche Bank. This is the account in Deutsche Bank was the subject of attention from the author of the article published in 2006 in the German magazine “Der Spiegel”. The article said that the ex-dictator of Turkmenistan, Saparmurat Niyazov used the account to place “in foreign banks officially unaccounted for revenue.”

The authors of the report for the year 2009 an international organization to combat corruption Global Witness have gone further, arguing that Niyazov had hidden in the account at Deutsche Bank $ 3 billion of public funds, which “had been withdrawn beyond the state budget and were in his personal possession.” And though Deutsche Bank does not violate any international financial laws, the drafters of the report was subjected to criticism for tacit support of Niyazov’s personality cult.

According to the specialist organization Global Witness Thom Mayne, any financial operation with Turkmenistan under Niyazov had to be extremely risky, since the finance could be used for personal needs. “Any amount paid by the Turkmen government in the era of Niyazov, have been subject to great risk. When the money lies outside the budget, it is very difficult to determine for what purposes they are spent, “- said he

“The United States had to deal with Turkmenistan, once there are similar arrangements in the defense sector – he added. – Unfortunately for them under Niyazov all of these funds or the funds themselves in offshore, so that we know how Niyazov used the account at the Deutsche Bank ».

Niyazov died in late 2006. At the head of state he was succeeded by Berdymukhammedov, who has consistently pursued a policy of strengthening self-control of the authoritarian political system.

American warplanes use Turkmen airspace and facilities as part of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan since at least 2002. Ashgabat airport served as a major point of refueling. For example, in the first four months of 2003 in the tanks of American planes there were replenished about 12 million gallons of jet fuel grade TC-1, described in the Spring 2003 issue of the publication «Fuel Line», published by the Center for the fuel supply the U.S. armed forces.

As we found out, in addition to the use of Ashgabat as the center of the refueling aircraft, the U.S. also have permission to use the airport town of Mary and at least one airport of the country. However, how extensively to use the airport of Mary remains unclear.

Ashgabat airport was and remains a key transit point for transport aircraft C-5 and C-17.Fuel Tank C-5 can hold just over 51 thousand gallons (about 195 thousand liters) of fuel.Provided that in January-April 2003 in Ashgabat and from the aircraft flew only P-5, the amount of spent fuel would be enough for 58 flights a month.

Use of Ashgabat was aggravated by secret program the U.S. government, says the report of the Interim Committee of the European Parliament to investigate CIA’s use of European countries for the transportation and illegal detention.

The report describes 98 cases of landing at the airport of Ashgabat’s Boeing 737-300 made during the period from 9 June to 30 November 2005, and one flight of the same aircraft on the route Merv (Mary) – Frankfurt, which took place October 16, 2005.

Disbursements against Turkmenistan for the use aviaobektov were contrary to public policy the United States. In a joint response to the request sent under the Freedom of Information Act, the Center of the fuel supplies of the armed forces and the U.S. Air Force reported that in February 2009 has finally been implemented U.S. policy not oplachivaniya charges for the use of terminals and air navigation services.

As is evident from correspondence between the Center of the fuel supply and the contractors involved in the regulation of relevant benefits and services, in May 2008, Turkmenistan has ignored attempts to carry out this policy and its implementation “at all sites in Turkmenistan” was postponed.“Following intensive negotiations with the Turkmen government on access to airspace and airports in the country in February 2009 and managed to fully implement the policy of the U.S. government in the territory of Turkmenistan”, – said in a joint paper prepared by the abovementioned departments.

“Under the current U.S. government policies we currently do not pay fees for aircraft navigation, overflight and aircraft navigation in the terminal Turkmenistan – discussed later in this document. – However, the contributions paid earlier, produced by the Centre of the fuel supply system for the Army Air Card by Multi Service Corporation company against the contractor of the Centre of the fuel supply AvCard in Turkmenistan. According to our data, after September 2008 is no charge for air navigation services not performed.

Program Foreign Clearance Program has no independent information regarding the amounts paid to the Turkmen. On June 1, 2006 to September 30, 2008 Fuel Supply Center has paid 381,339 dollars for air navigation services while landing in Turkmenistan. Payment for air navigation services have stopped September 30, 2008. During this period, payment for all air navigation services made to the AvCard. Requested information on the status before June 1, 2006 we do not have “- were added in response.

In its report for 2005 the RAND Corporation suggested that payments to the address of Turkmenistan from the beginning were “problematic.” “Turkmenistan has taken a payment directly related to the services refueling (although sometimes required to make advance payments and unspecified),” – said in a report in connection with a series of interviews given by U.S. officials in Turkmenistan during the spring and summer of 2003.

“Negotiations with representatives of civil aviation from the beginning were problematic. As noted above, the financial claims of Turkmenistan to the United States does not always reflect the agreements reached “, – emphasized in the report.

These agreements between the U.S. military and the Turkmen authorities are not regulated by the Interstate Agreement on the status of the armed forces, as is usually done, and next diplomatic notes, the document says.

Editor’s Note: Deidre Tynan is a Bishkek journalist specializing in coverage of the Central Asian events.