Uzbekistan demands withdrawal of US army bases

The USA supported Osama bin Laden in the 1980s in the war against the USSR in Afghanistan

The Senate of Uzbekistan has passed an unexampled resolution for the present world recently. Members of the upper house of the republican parliament demanded the USA should withdraw its army base from the Khanabad airdrome. According to the Uzbek parliament, the USA does not fulfill its financial obligations. In addition, Uzbek authorities do not wish to indulge the USA in conducting revolutions in Central Asia.

It took the discussion more than two hours to last, which eventually ended with a unanimously approved document. The document runs that the Senate of the republic of Uzbekistan does not see any grounds to prolong the US-Uzbek agreement for Khanabad (the agreement was signed on 7 October 2001), for the current situation in Afghanistan does not require such measures. In addition, senators pointed out that the USA used the Afghan factor as a cover up with a view to settle down in Central Asia and continue to organize so-called color revolutions, which destabilize the region.

It has been quite a while, since someone could dare to use such a tone to speak with the USA. It has never happened even with Iran or North Korea, the sworn enemies of the USA.  Most likely, Uzbek senators and President Islam Karimov thought that Russia and China, their Shanghai Cooperation Organization partners, that passed the resolution together with Uzbekistan, would not leave the former Soviet republic face to face with the USA. However, the US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in response to such an initiative that American bases were not leaving anywhere. Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev has already agreed that the US base in Manas, Kyrgyzstan, would continue its existence.

It is also possible that Uzbek authorities have been frightened with the recent uprising in the republic, which swept across the town of Andijan in the middle of May. Islamic extremists have been exercising their activity without any foreign support, but now Uzbek authorities can witness quite different matters. Most likely, the US administration would like to have their own people in the government of Uzbekistan, who would establish a certain regime there that would be loyal to the West. However, such people are not easy to find: representatives of one of Islamic movements of Uzbekistan call themselves “democrats.” It just so happens that Uzbekistan would have been ruled by extremists, if the current regime had collapsed after the Andijan events.

The USA supported Osama bin Laden in the 1980s in the war against the USSR in Afghanistan. The enemy's enemy did not prove to be a friend. Hardly had the previous adversary left Afghanistan, when Al-Qaeda set about the former sponsor. It brings up the idea that Uzbek Islamists, the majority of which have ties with Bin Laden, are not likely to do something different. The USA is digging its own grave, as it tries to harm Russia and China.

If Uzbek President Islam Karimov supports his senators and releases adequate statements, the whole matter may lead to unpredictable consequences. Uzbekistan will probably be added on the “axis of evil,” and the USA will start supporting any anti-governmental agencies and even threaten to bomb Tashkent, the republic's capital. It is very important for Russia and China to take a firm position at this point in order not to let the US administration go too far in its aspiration to “bring freedom” to most remote places of the globe.

For the time being, it is not clear whether the statements from the Uzbek Senate will remain just a declarative announcement, or Uzbekistan starts taking certain measures to oust the USA from Khanabad. It would be possible for the republic's authorities to block food shipments to the US army base, for example. It is Washington's turn to do something now. The decision of the Bush's administration will influence stability not only in Central Asia alone, but in the whole world. If the USA decides to aggravate relations with Uzbekistan, Russia will probably have to face serious problems.

Ivan Shmelev

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Author`s name Olga Savka