The situation in Afghanistan and Central Asia after the withdrawal of US and NATO troops from this country was discussed at the end of last week at two representative events in Almaty. President Nursultan Nazarbayev promised that disasters in the region after the NATO troops partially leave Afghanistan, will not happen. “I absolutely do not think that the countdown timer has already been turned on, bringing the region closer to a certain hour“ X ”in 2014, when the active phase of the operation of the international coalition forces will end in Afghanistan. I am sure that nothing critical will happen. Although there are willing or frightening in such a scenario, ”said the leader of Kazakhstan at the Eurasian Media Forum.
His statement was probably the result of the negotiations that ended with US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Robert Blake, who recently said that the United States will maintain its presence in Central Asia after the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. Apparently, Kazakhstan has been chosen as a new center.
The fact that negotiations were held between Astana and Washington on the possibility of using the Caspian port "Aktau" as a transit point for the transportation of goods, became known after the publication of WikiLeaks. Later this information was indirectly confirmed in an interview with local media by the deputy governor of the Mangystau region Birzhan Kaneshev. He, in particular, stated that the Kazakh authorities, together with representatives of the United States, are considering the transformation of the Caspian port Aktau into a key transshipment point within the framework of the Northern supply network. According to him, the Kazakh authorities intend to turn Aktau into the largest transit hub by expanding the port, increasing the airport’s carrying capacity in terms of freight traffic and building railway lines to Turkmenistan and Iran. “This will enable the US to transport its cargo through the port and the airport, and Kazakhstan will gain experience in organizing multimodal transport operations,” he said in an interview with local media. Experts called the statement of the official “unauthorized”, the very possibility of placing the American military in the port of Aktau unlikely. “If even for a moment it is assumed that the US military will appear in the region, this will accelerate the arms race in the region, especially from Russia and Iran,” Stanislav Pritchin, an expert at the Center for the Study of Central Asia and the Caucasus, told NG.
President Nazarbayev put an end to the protracted discussion. But questions remained. “The Caucasus and Central Asia are two regions of increased conflict potential, separated by the Caspian Sea, which did not allow to unite them within the framework of the well-known Brzezinski“ arc ”, which was recently romanticly called the“ New Silk Road ”. Relations between jihadists in the Russian Caucasus and in Azerbaijan with the West Kazakhstan Islamist radicals existed before, but these connections have not yet been systemic. The stability of the Caspian was intended to contribute to the decision of the heads of state of the "Caspian Five" to prevent any non-Caspian countries from being present in the Caspian water area, "Alexander Knyazev, an expert on Central Asia, told NG. According to him, the participation of the American military in the creation of the Navy of Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan until now, Russia and Iran closed their eyes, although they rapidly increased their naval presence in the region. And if the transformation of Azerbaijan into an Israeli-American military base was more disturbing to Tehran, then Moscow forgave its "strategic partner", Kazakhstan, training by American instructors of Kazakhstani naval personnel. “In the case of the realization of the declared Nazarbayev, the cherished dream of the Anglo-Saxon military establishment immediately comes true. The selected “linear” strategy opens up the possibility of several traffic at once - weapons, militants, drugs, according to the Aktau – Baku vector, the transfer of all and every threat from the Caucasus to the problematic Mangystau region begins.
Naturally, the actual port "Aktau" automatically becomes the base of the Pentagon and its allies, no matter what "transit" node or center it is called. In fact, the already fragile architecture of the Caspian security is collapsing, ”the expert believes. In the near future, according to Knyazev, the Western military who settled on the Kazakh coast of the Caspian Sea and have long been established in Azerbaijani will take on the “security” of the Trans-Caspian hydrocarbon pipelines. “Naturally, the US military base in Aktau will also be included in the scenarios of aggression against Iran, when and if time will mature for such. The functioning of the North-South transport corridor for the real economy of the Caspian countries can certainly be forgotten, ”the expert noted.