US is Losing Footing in Central Asia


In the last decade Washington has clearly demonstrated its intention to strengthen its presence in Central Asia, creating a foothold in the region that quite easily can be described as the “heart of Eurasia”. Should it have succeeded it would have had a perfect opportunity to apply military pressure on Russia, China, Iran and the entire Eurasian continent. In geopolitical terms, the United States actively sought to connect Central Asia to South Asia – Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, to “tear it away” from Russia and prevent China from gaining access to its raw materials.

Today the region is a strategic corridor of utmost importance that stretches between continental Europe and Asia, and it is somewhat critical for the growth of Chinese markets. The United States was desperate to establish control of this region in order to jeopardize the New Silk Road project that tries to outflank the much discussed Pivot to Asia by building land routes. In addition, the expansion of its military and political presence in Central Asia, would have allowed it to counter Russia’s strengthening influence.

In the past, the United States preferred to “negotiate” their terms with respective leaders of the countries that were in the zones of its geopolitical interests, but in recent decades this practice has been abandoned long ago. Instead, the White House has adopted a new strategy of toppling unwanted governments, and replacing them with semi-criminal, but somehow “legitimate” political groups and states, or by simply creating failed states that cannot control their own territory. This allows Washington to fulfill its agenda faster and cheaper. Recent events in a number of Middle Eastern and North African countries serve as a perfect example of this strategy.

This choice of modus operandi of the White House is understandable: should a specific country be controlled by a strong government, the US oligarchy cannot gain easy access to its resources. Should American intelligence agencies succeed in provoking a coup d’etat in a country, Washington will not simply get is hands on desired resources, but will be able to use the rapid spread of violence as a pretext to further increase US military presence across the region in question.

That is why the US expansion in Central Asia manifested itself in the form of an active military expansion. America was happy to get involved in the construction of local military bases, outposts, centers for training, and reconstruction of educational institutions. Thus in Tajikistan alone US Central Command is carrying at least 60 military drills a year. The US massively recruited people in military circles, intelligence communities and government circles to use them to overthrow a legitimate government, as has already been done many times around the world. Moreover, against the background of ongoing cuts in the US military budget, additional funds have been allocated to operations in Central Asia.

However, the United States was not patient enough in its expansion in Central Asia, which led to a critical political mistake: the White House rushed the process of “democratization” across the countries of Central Asia, while trying to provoke unrest that would pave the way for a coup d’etat in a number of states. But the course of events has clearly shown that the “color revolution” tactics have fallen short. Ironically enough, the growing influence of the White House in Central Asia has been stopped by the Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan in March 2005 and the events in the Uzbek city of Andijan in May of the same year.

US meddling in local affairs has provoked a sharp rise of discontent among the regional leaders, which in turn affected their relationship with the United States. There’s a reason why one state after another started declaring their adherence to the principles of cooperation with Russia and China. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization has clearly played a vital role in counterbalancing the US strategic advance in the region.

The latest confirmation that Central Asian leaders are well aware of the cunning ways of Washington’s politicians is the latest denunciation of the Cooperation Agreement between the US and Kyrgyzstan, that was signed 22 years ago. A Kyrgyz opposition figure has been sentenced to life by the Supreme Court of Kyrgyzstan for incitement of riots and the murder of a policeman during the “Tulip Revolution” in 2010. As a result, the country has refused to cooperate with the US in the construction of a “democratic society”.

It should also be noted that this agreement was not treating sides as equals, since there was a number of obvious deviations from the norms of international law, as it was supposed to provide diplomatic immunity to a wide range of US citizens, in particular, the civilian and military personnel of the US government, stationed in the Republic. Such international agreements were considered controversial by many international experts, who saw in them the obvious violation of the sovereignty of Kyrgyzstan. But Bishkek has made a number of steps to get on an even footing with Washington, the first of which was the closure of the US air base “Manas”, Bishkek, along with the fact that it increased its activity amid the Collective Security Treaty Organization. The participation of Kyrgyzstan in this defense alliance confirms the fact that officially Bishkek shares a common view with its regional allies. However, the Manas closure is but the first step Bishkek will take.

Vladimir Odintsov, political commentator, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

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