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Mainstream, Vol XLIX, No 9, February 19, 2011

Kyrgyzstane: Renewed US Pressures

Monday 21 February 2011, by Benjamin Todd

Due to the favourable geographic location and vast natural resources, Central Asia’s importance in US calculations has been growing with every passing year. Washington is fully conscious of the fact that increasing tensions among those states which are in mutual competition over Central Asian oil and gas as well as the local crossroads on old routes between Hindustan, Europe, Russia, the Middle East and the Middle Kingdom are turning the region into one of major international powder-kegs. That is why the White House, Foggy Bottom and Pentagon are consistently mounting pressures on the post-Soviet administrations in the Central Asian countries to gain control over their external and domestic policies as also their militaries and security set-ups.

The US’ efforts in the area are currently concentrated on Kyrgyzstan—the aim is to get a firm foothold in the state. Washington is keen to use the Manas Air Base in perpetuity and acquire another military base in the south of this lost country situated near the crossroads of the Silk Route. Through bribes and intimidatory tactics the US was able to wrest permission for such facility close to the borders of Uzbekistan on the pretext of setting up an Anti-Terror Centre. American diplomats and CENTOM repre-sentatives took advantage of the vulnerability and sheer greed of the former ruler Mr Bakiev and his son, M. Bakiev, at the time the erstwhile regime was on its last legs.

The WikiLeaks threw some lights on those dealings that the ever enlightened and morally incorruptible White House officials had with that rotten First Family of Kyrgyzstan completely smeared with corruption even as it proved highly ‘useful’ for a period. The extent of long-term strategic gains the US has been able to secure in Kyrgyzstan compared to the minuscule American investments in the local economy, infrastructure and education bear testimony to the enormous sums of hard currency paid to the Bakievs. A certain part of the money received from Washington is learnt to have been utilised by those loyal to the former President to finance the Osh and Jalalabad pogroms of June 2010.

It is incumbent upon the new Kyrgyz leaders to draw proper lessons from those developments in the recent past and desist from transforming themselves into US stooges. After assessing the experience of the first successful colour revolutions and failed revolts in Central Asia (Kyrgyzstan 2005 and 2010, Fergana valley, Uzbekistan 2005) as well as the popular uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and other Arab states at present, the Obama Administration is now eager to reinforce its grip over politics in this region. Washington, as the WikiLeaks cables show, is extremely resourceful in promoting its loyalists in local political parties, youth movements and NGOs. Currently these are in a dormant state but they can be activated anytime to destroy an autocrat coming in conflict with Washington or a leader who has simply ceased to be useful for the US—be it Mr Nazarbayev, Mr Karimov or Mr Rakhmon. The fate of President Hosni Mubarak in the wake of the Egyptian mass upsurge confirms the old truth: Washington has no qualms of betraying any foreign ally, howsoever loyal, even after two or three decades of outstanding service for safeguarding and promoting US interests.

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