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Americans in Central Asia: Leave To Stay

19.06.2012 09:15

Maxim Krans, political observer

Washington's decision to transfer a large part of their weapons without compensation to Central Asian countries has caused concern in Moscow. And that reaction is understandable. Because you know, in such a way the United States may tie these states for many years to the American war machine.

Withdrawing the troops from Afghanistan is not a less difficult task than bringing of the allied forces there. The whole history of this country shows that no one has yet managed to establish a comprehensive no control over it or leave it in peace. Thus, the British, unable to prevail over the rebels in 1842, during the evacuation of their expeditionary corps from Kabul, lost up to half of the 17 thousand soldiers and officers. The rest of the corps reached the metropolis with significant losses too.

Over the years of presence of ?a limited contingent of Soviet troops? in the same Afghanistan, we lost 15 thousand soldiers. And many of them died also during the withdrawal of our units from this country in 1989. In the last six months alone 60 fighters were killed.

The losses in the contingents of the United States, NATO and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in this year alone have exceeded 580. And in total since the beginning of operations in Afghanistan in 2001, the United States and its allies have lost 2133 soldiers. Recall that in this mission more than 132 thousand militaries from 48 countries are involved. Including 90 thousand of Americans. Soon, most of them must be driven home, and what is more, with weapons. The German units alone will have transport 1700 vehicles, howitzers and tanks to their homeland.

According to the German weekly Der Spiegel, ?in spite of the contrary assurances, the NATO mission failed, and the case is only about how to take out the equipment and personnel of this country without loss.? But except that it is very important for Washington to maintain its geopolitical positions in the region.

After the U.S. quarreled with Pakistan, the main hope is on the Central Asian states. Recently, NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, has submitted to the public new contracts with Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan on the overland transit of goods and military equipment from Afghanistan. It is known that such secret negotiations are held with Tajikistan too. And incidentally in previous agreements only air transportation were designated.

It is as a bonus for these services that they promise to pass the American modern weapons - tanks, armoured personnel carriers, air defense facilities, and the latest small arms. The Pentagon is ready to also donate medical equipment, communication facilities, fire-extinguishing means, and even portable gyms and other devices for the militaries welfare.

In exchange for the transit and first-rate armament Washington hopes to get the loyalty on the part of the Central Asian countries in relation to its policy in the region. But not limited to. The matter is also about maintaining its military outposts in the region (such as the U.S. Air Force air base at Bishkek Manas international airport, through which within the Operation Enduring Freedom, the troops and cargo redeployment to Afghanistan is carried out, as well as refueling of military aircrafts over this country), as well as creating new facilities there. It is to this decision that the leadership of some countries are persuade by numerous U.S. and NATO emissaries having recently become frequent visitors to the capitals of these states.

It is also clear that besides the Afghan component, the U.S. strategy in respect of Central Asia also has an anti-Russian one. The White House is obviously going to exclude Russia from its traditional sphere of influence in the region.

Here is what a senior researcher at the Institute of Oriental Studies, Alexander Knyazev writes about it: ?The U.S. wants to solidify in Central Asia, and the U.S. regional policy strategic objective is to create a network of its military facilities in the region... Because from here the United States can hold back three big powers at once - China, Russia and Iran. It?s most likely that the main objective is China. Russia is no longer the same competitor to Washington.?

Actually, his intentions, Washington conceals it not so much. As stated recently by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, ?the major part of the future history of the XXI century will be written in Asia and the U.S. should stay there as a ?resident power? in the military, political and economic terms, if we want to preserve our global leadership.? This in full and even more refers to Central Asia, for which the project ?Modern Silk Road? has been already developed, providing for large financial injections into the economy of the region.

For example, in Uzbekistan, some of the largest U.S. corporations begin to implement large-scale investment projects. It is no accident that Clinton during her latest visit to Tashkent visited the General Motors Powertrain Plant, where over 200 thousand advanced technology automobile engines will be manufactured every year. She promised to help Tajikistan in economic development, so that millions of Tajiks were not forced to seek work abroad, primarily in Russia. Both and to solve the water problems between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

For the Central Asian countries leaders, it is clear why they so like the American version. They are concerned that after the withdrawal of coalition troops from Afghanistan, the Taliban wave can roll in their direction. Who can protect them from it? Alas, neither SCO, nor CSTO. Although they recognize the very threat - as recorded in the concluding documents of these organizations recent summits - they are considering it only hypothetically so far, and have no specific plans to respond to it . But on the other hand the presence inthe countries of the region of U.S. bases, as well as retrofitting of the national armies with modern military equipment ? is at least some guarantee of safety.

It is clear that for Russia this version is not acceptable. Because we are connected with the post-Soviet countries by long-term plans of military and military-technical cooperation. But it?s not just that we may lose a substantial segment of the arms export. It is known after all that purchase of any foreign weapons entails a lot of associated services - the need for specialists training, spare parts supply, modernization, creation of repair bases. And eventually ? certain changes in the country?s military and political orientation.

Moscow sees this danger and realizes what this trend may lead to in terms of our geopolitical interests. The Russian side is concerned about the prospect of continuation of the U.S. military presence in Central Asia after the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, said Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov last week. The head of the Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov too expressed standards to his Tajik counterpart his concern of a possible transition of the Tajik army to NATO.

Now it is important that our CSTO and SCO Central Asian partners correctly decode these alarming allusions.