[The US is counting on its ability to slowly sneak into key positions in all of these countries, where it can provide some kind of service which will come to be seen as indispensable, i.e., border control, counter-terrorism, counter-narcotics, crowd control (SEE: Washington’s New Foxy Plan To Sneak Into the Central Asian Hen House).]
Russia’s Central Asian neighbors Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan have become strategically important for the US as Washington seeks to diversify cargo routes to Afghanistan following a split with Islamabad.
The US Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee has published a report on the transit of cargoes via Central Asia to Afghanistan. Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan are described as being of exceptional political and strategic importance for the international operation in Afghanistan. According to statistical data, 40% of cargoes entered Afghanistan via Uzbekistan this year. The remaining 60% were delivered via Pakistan. However, Islamabad has blocked cargo traffic twice over the past few months. It did so last after a NATO air strike against Pakistani border guards in November. Even though the report says that the US-Pakistan relations might still normalize, the Senate has chosen not to depend on Islamabad and look for other options.
As long as this cooperation serves humanitarian needs, Moscow has no objections. Daniil Kislov, chief editor of the Fergana International Agency, comments:
“Russia was the first to grant its overland routes and airspace for the US and NATO to transport cargoes to Afghanistan and back when the withdrawal of troops begins. There are no grounds for conflict, not until the US or NATO announces the opening of new military facilities in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan or Kyrgyzstan.”
A step of this kind is fairly possible. In September this year US Congress resolved to abolish the 2004 restrictions on granting military aid to Uzbekistan and offered to supply Tashkent with weapons no longer needed in the Afghan campaign. A military base would be logical to come next, and then the region will be declared a US interest zone. What will follow becomes clear too if we recall the developments in the Middle East and North Africa, says Andrei Grozin of the Institute of CIS Countries.
“As a rule, this is followed by a variety of problems in this so-called “interest zone” as the US has its own vision of what course the “interest zone” countries should follow and won’t heed local opinions. The secular regimes of the five Central Asian countries are weak compared to countries of the Middle East. An outside intervention threatens to shake the unsteady situation in these countries and may lead to numerous conflicts, both internal and external.”
The Senate’s report recommends rendering economic assistance to the Central Asian countries as a measure to counteract the influence of Russia and China, two major players in the region. Russia, China and other countries of Asia and Pacific which have direct economic and political interests in Central Asia are unlikely to put up with this. Andrei Grozin has this to say:
“None of the states with interests in Central Asia will welcome a US presence in the region. All countries concerned will resist such a step. And they will resort to various methods in doing this.”
Given that Russia shares its past with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, it can’t turn a blind eye on what’s happening in close proximity to its borders....