Condoleezza Rice's current visit to Central Asia is connected with the fact that the USA has been losing its positions in the region
The US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has started her debut tour of Central Asian states. The program of the tour includes official visits to Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan. Ms. Rice may also visit Pakistan to express sympathies on behalf of the USA in connection with the recent devastating earthquake.
Condoleezza Rice arrived in the republic of Kyrgyzstan yesterday. “It is important for Kyrgyzstan to maintain friendly relations with its neighbors, there are no reasons for the republic to choose between Russia and the USA,” the US Secretary of State said at the briefing in Kyrgyz capital Bishkek. Russian politicians had a similar reaction to the visit of the top US official. The Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sergei Lavrov, stated during his visit to Paris that there was no opposition between Russia and the USA in Central Asia, although there were certain legal interests in the region, the minister added.
Pravda.Ru interviewed the chairman of the department for Central Asia of the CIS Institute, Andrey Grozin, regarding USA's plans in Central Asia.
”Condoleezza Rice's current visit to Central Asia is connected with the fact that the USA has been losing its positions in the region, which the US administration won after 2001. The situation has been changing to Washington's detriment lately: it became especially clear after Uzbekistan's wish to get rid of the US military presence on its territory. The USA hoped that Islam Karimov (the Uzbek president) would change his mind on the matter, although it was revealed later that Uzbekistan was not willing to do so.
”Furthermore, the USA wishes to create a certain group, which would include Central Asian states and Afghanistan, without the participation of Russia, China ands Iran. The pro-American Afghanistan will thus control the political and economic direction in Central Asian states. This concept is also connected with the USA's plan to build the so-called Big Middle East, although they prefer not to touch upon the issue because of the ongoing war in Iraq.
”The notorious President of Turkmenistan, Saparmurat Niyazov, is not interested in the US presence in the republic whatsoever. Turkmenistan has isolated itself from the rest of the world: the republican administration is not likely to break the structure just to let the USA move its base from Uzbekistan to Turkmenistan.
”It may become possible with Tajikistan, though. However, the President of Tajikistan, Emomali Rakhmonov, has been under a strong Russian influence lately: the Tajik president realizes that the redeployment of the US base to the territory of Tajikistan will inevitably result in a rather negative reaction from Russia, which may subsequently aggravate the social situation in the republic.
”There are some Central Asian leaders, though, who possibly hope and count on the USA's support. If it happens, Russia may introduce visa rules with such states in return – it goes about Tajikistan first and foremost. The Russian administration has already developed certain measures in the event the Tajik president changes foreign political priorities of the republic.
”Condoleezza Rice stated during her visit to Kyrgyzstan that the USA intended to support all democratic forces in the region. The statement from the secretary probably means that the USA is trying to make advances with Kazakhstan. The local opposition is staying in a state of confusion: US officials clearly said a short while ago that there would be no support given to the Kazakh opposition. Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan are the two leading states in the region, that is why the USA is paying so much of its attention to them. However, the list of Kazakhstan's major partners includes Russia and China: if the republic ruins relations with these two superpowers, it will bring severe consequences for the nation. One may thus infer that there will be no US military bases deployed on the territory of Kazakhstan in the near future.
”The current administration of another Asian state, Kyrgyzstan, has been trying to balance between Russia and the USA. It is rather hard to say when it is going to end. Kyrgyzstan is experiencing a rather complicating moment in its socio-economic development: the local government is too busy trying to survive. The Kyrgyz administration will therefore be trying to consolidate all possible resources to settle vital problems and not to let another revolution occur,” the expert concluded.