American base in Uzbekistan?
Recently, the Uzbek Internet resource UzMetronom.com reported on the possible deployment of a US military base in Uzbekistan, which should replace the Transit Center in July in the suburb of Bishkek. And although the information about this has already been refuted by the Uzbek Foreign Ministry, the Americans themselves do not doubt the plans of preserving the military presence in Central Asia.
The reason for the appearance of assumptions about the US intention to place military facilities in Uzbekistan was the visit to Tashkent of the commander of the Central Command of the US Armed Forces, General Lloyd Jay Austin III. According to UzMetronom.com, the purpose of the visit is “to obtain the consent of Uzbekistan to be deployed in the Uzbek city of Termez, which is separated from Afghanistan only by Amu Darya, the American military contingent and military equipment, primarily aviation". Since the legislation of Uzbekistan prohibits the deployment of foreign military bases on its territory, the US base can operate under the guise of a logistics center, while being a full-fledged military structure.
The tasks of the base will include not only control over Afghanistan, but also electronic tracking of all the states of Central Asia, Kazakhstan, and partially Russia and China. For all this, the United States "according to rumors in diplomatic circles" is ready to pay Uzbekistan 1 billion dollars annually.
Americans already have experience of military presence in Uzbekistan. 2001 to 2005 At the military airfield in Khanabad, located in the Kashkadarya region of Uzbekistan near the city of Karshi, there was a US military base. Its status was governed by an agreement concluded in October 2001. The United States actually re-built the airfield, deploying a squadron of military transport aircraft C-130, about ten Black Hawk and 1500 helicopters of military personnel. The base was used to support US military action in Afghanistan. As known, история her stay in Uzbekistan ended after the US, under pressure from the public, demanded that the Uzbek authorities independently investigate the Andijan events 2005. In July, 2005 Uzbekistan stated that the United States should stop using the base for six months, and in November the last American plane left Karshi -Hanabad. The aircraft was partially redeployed to Bagram, and partly to the US base at the Kyrgyz airport Manas. However, the base in Manas was officially closed in July of this year, and the Americans who did not want to leave Central Asia had to find a new place for it.
Information about the possible deployment of a US military base in Uzbekistan is not the first time. In August, 2012, the Kazakh newspaper Liter, an organ of the ruling Nur Otan party, announcing the Central Asian tour of US Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake, reported on the likelihood of a US military base deployed in Uzbekistan. Following this, the Russian Kommersant, citing sources close to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Uzbekistan, reported on the negotiations between Washington and Tashkent over the creation of the Rapid Response Center, whose task would be to coordinate actions in the event of an aggravation of the situation in Afghanistan. The base was supposed to be the largest US military facility in Central Asia, which would assume most of the functions of supporting the American grouping in Afghanistan. In addition, the United States planned to transfer part of the military equipment and equipment being exported from Afghanistan to Uzbekistan.
In response, Russia in November 2012 announced plans to modernize the armies of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, putting them weapon and equipment for 1,5 billion. Since Dushanbe and Bishkek’s relations with Tashkent leave much to be desired, these plans did not cause any enthusiasm in Uzbekistan. In December, Uzbek diplomats assured the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry, S. Lavrov, that there would be no US base in the republic. Nevertheless, Tashkent continued to refrain from participating in all unions and integration projects with the participation of Russia. In December 2012, he left the CSTO, and earlier left the EurAsEC, considering it ineffective. Uzbekistan initially did not participate in the negotiations on the establishment of the Customs Union, considering it as a threat to its sovereignty. In June of this year, President Islam Karimov criticized the agreement on the creation of a Eurasian Economic Union signed by Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus. “They say they create only an economic market and will in no way give up sovereignty and independence,” he said at a meeting with representatives of international business and foreign diplomats. “Tell me, can there be political independence without economic independence?”
The UzMetronom.com message about negotiations on the deployment of a US base in Uzbekistan may well be a “test balloon” designed to probe the reaction of Russia. At the same time, the development of US-Uzbek relations in recent years shows that this possibility should not be ruled out.
Unlike most states in the region, Uzbekistan unequivocally condemned Russia's actions in the Crimea and Ukraine.
4 March, before the Crimean referendum and the inclusion of the peninsula in Russia, the Uzbek Foreign Ministry expressed concern about the "real threats to sovereignty and territorial integrity" of Ukraine, calling for the use of force options and resolving the conflict solely by political means. 24 March, after the inclusion of Crimea in the Russian Federation, the press service of the Uzbek Foreign Ministry reiterated the need "to refrain in international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state." In the opinion of Uzbekistan, the only reasonable way out of the current situation could be direct bilateral negotiations between Russia and Ukraine, the delay of which only leads to the aggravation of contradictions.
Since the beginning of this year, diplomatic contacts between the United States and Uzbekistan have noticeably intensified, not only at the political, but also at the military level. For example, 15, 28 and 30 in January at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Uzbekistan met with US Ambassador George Krol, who discussed with his Uzbek colleagues "relevant aspects of bilateral relations." On February 21, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Uzbekistan was visited by a group of students from the US National Defense University headed by retired general Joseph Hoar. On February 26, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Richard Hoagland arrived in Tashkent and held talks with Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov. On April 18, a delegation of senior diplomats from a number of US diplomatic missions headed by Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia, US Secretary of State Eileen O'Connor, visited the capital of Uzbekistan. May 7, US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns arrived in Tashkent on a working visit. 13 June, the head of the Uzbek Foreign Ministry in Tashkent held talks with the senior director for Russia and Eurasia of the US National Security Council Celesta Anna Wallender. 20 June A. Kamilov received the US delegation led by US Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Laurel Miller.
Finally, on July 29-30, a visit to Uzbekistan of General Lloyd Jay Austen took place, which raised suspicions about the possible opening of a US military base in the republic. Moreover, unlike all previous delegations, it was adopted by I. Karimov.
British diplomacy in Uzbekistan was quite high, although not as significant as the United States. January 29 and February 7 in the Uzbek Foreign Ministry held a meeting with British Ambassador George Edgar. 30 January, he participated in the negotiations that took place in the foreign ministry of Uzbekistan, together with American and French diplomats. In April, Baroness Saida Varsi, Senior State Minister for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, visited Tashkent and met in the Senate, the Cabinet of Ministers, the Foreign Ministry, and the Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations, Investments and Trade.
Western international organizations, dominated by US influence, also maintain active diplomatic ties with Uzbekistan. In January, the Special Representative of the European Union for Central Asia, Patricia Flor, visited Uzbekistan, discussing the development of economic relations. On June 4, the head of the Uzbek Foreign Ministry met with the new EU envoy for the region, Janos Herman. On May 9, 16 A. Kamilov met with the Special Representative of the NATO Secretary General for Central Asia and the Caucasus, James Appathurai, who visited Tashkent in connection with the official opening of the Alliance's bureau of relations with the states of the region.
In total, since the beginning of this year, according to official data, 10 meetings have been held with various officials and delegations of the USA, 4 - Great Britain, 2 - EU and 1 - NATO. In total, 17 rounds of various negotiations, and the 3 US delegations that visited the capital of Uzbekistan, were composed of military. For comparison, Russian diplomats held meetings with Uzbek colleagues, 5 diplomats, and 3 rounds of ministerial consultations, and official Russian delegations, according to information from the Uzbek Foreign Ministry, were not noticed in Tashkent.
That is, the activity of Russian diplomacy in Tashkent was at least twice lower than the combined efforts of the United States, Britain, NATO and the European Union.
Their interest in developing ties with Tashkent suggests that in the context of the unfolding confrontation with Russia, the West might like to stake on it, turning it into an outpost on the extremely strategic military-strategic southern frontiers of the Russian Federation.
The official pretext for this is the continued US presence in Afghanistan. Despite the fact that most of the US troops this year should leave it, some of them will remain there at least until 2016. And perhaps even longer, since no one is stopping the US President from making a new statement "in view of the changed situation." In Iraq, for example, it has already changed and demanded military intervention by the Americans. The format of the US military presence in Afghanistan is not completely clear. We are talking about a contingent of several thousand to several tens of thousands of military personnel who, naturally, will have to be supplied with everything necessary. Their presence is the pretext by which the United States wants to gain a foothold in Uzbekistan for a long time, increasing its influence in Central Asia. US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, during his June visit to Tashkent, openly proposed the creation of an aviation maintenance office in the country to provide air transportation to Afghanistan. "The United States will be committed to maintaining peace and stability in Afghanistan and throughout the region after 2014, he told Uzbek journalists," The United States’s obligations in this very important region of the world remain. The USA is not going anywhere. ”
One gets the feeling that, both in Ukraine and in Central Asia, Americans are persistently acting on the patterns of Z. Brzezinski, who noted the key role of Uzbekistan in confronting the alleged “imperial ambitions of Moscow”.
"Uzbekistan, which from the national point of view is the most important and most populous country in Central Asia, is the main obstacle to the resumption of Russia's control over the region," he argued in the "Grand Chessboard." “The independence of Uzbekistan is crucial for the survival of other Central Asian states, and besides, it is least vulnerable to pressure from Russia.” The reasons for the fact that the republic is the main candidate for the role of regional leader in Central Asia, American geopolitics considered the most numerous population in the region, its mono-ethnic composition and strong national identity, based on deep cultural and historical traditions. He especially emphasized the fact that Uzbekistan has always consistently opposed the creation within the CIS framework of any supranational institutions capable of somehow limiting its sovereignty.
At the same time, caution of Tashkent in terms of deploying the US base is quite understandable.
Economically, Uzbekistan is still highly dependent on the Russian Federation, which is a major investor and a major labor market for guest workers, whose remittances, according to some estimates, provide up to 1 / 5 GDP.
In addition, the presence of a foreign military base, which in a critical situation can be the object of military strikes, is not the most pleasant acquisition. Under the conditions of the strongest years of crisis in relations between Russia and the collective West, which is the strongest in the last 20-30, Tashkent has to consider this option.
- Alexander Shustov
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