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U.S. And NATO Allies Escalate Military Buildup Against Iran

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The U.S. has also recently confirmed that it will supply Kazakhstan with six retrofitted UH-1 Iroquois (Huey) helicopters to be used in the Caspian Sea where border demarcation issues exist among its five littoral nations: Kazakhstan, Iran, Russia, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan.

In late October Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev met with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and afterward announced that Kazakh troops would be assigned to NATO's International Security Assistance Force headquarters in the Afghan capital. Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, on opposite ends of the Caspian Sea, along with Azerbaijan's South Caucasus neighbors Armenia and Georgia, are the only non-European nations that have been granted a NATO Individual Partnership Action Plan.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently returned from visits to Kazakhstan, where she attended the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) summit in the nation's capital and met with President Nazarbayev and Foreign Minister Saudabayev to discuss "various aspects of the U.S.-Kazakhstan strategic partnership," [12] and afterward to Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Bahrain.

On December 2 Hillary met with Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbayeva [13] and indicated that the Pentagon has no intention of leaving the Transit Center at Manas (formerly the Manas Air Base) in Kyrgyzstan where the latest figures estimate that 50,000 U.S. and NATO troops transit each month into and out of Afghanistan. According to a Reuters dispatch, "Clinton said Washington would examine again in 2014 whether it needed the Manas base." [14]

On the same day a Kyrgyz website disclosed that Foreign Minister Ruslan Kazakbaev met with Dirk Brengelmann, NATO's Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs and Security Policy, to discuss bilateral cooperation.

Clinton next travelled to Uzbekistan on December 2 in the first visit by a Secretary of State to the country since Colin Powell's nine years ago.

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During her trip the local press quoted earlier statements by two of Clinton's subordinates at a subcommittee hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs on November 17:

Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert Blake affirmed that "This administration considers Central Asia to be an important pillar of our security policy and regional US interests," and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia David Sedney said, "We must increase our engagement with Central Asia at all levels." [15]

Across the Caspian from Kazakhstan, the U.S. and NATO have cultivated Azerbaijan as a military outpost on the sea and in the volatile South Caucasus region. [16] Azerbaijan borders Iran.

The Azerbaijan-NATO Cooperation Institute and the Romanian embassy - the current NATO Contact Point Embassy in Azerbaijan - will host a conference entitled "NATO After the Lisbon Summit: New Strategic Concept" in the capital of Baku on December 7.

Recently Borut Grgic, founder of the European Policy Centre's transCaspian Initiative and senior fellow at the Atlantic Council - the U.S.-based pro-NATO think tank [17] - stated:

"NATO has a stabilizing role to play in the region, most of all in providing the broader security framework for the countries of the South Caucasus.

"I think all three South Caucasus countries can become NATO member states...." [18] All three nations - Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia - have NATO Individual Partnership Action Plans and have troop contingents assigned to NATO's International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. Georgia is a U.S. and NATO frontline on the Black Sea and in the Caucasus. The American guided missile destroyer USS Gonzalez visited the Georgian Black Sea port of Batumi last week and on December 3 American ambassador John Bass stated:

"The United States remains firmly committed to Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity. We enjoy a strong defense relationship, defense cooperation, and we're currently working closely with the Ministry of Defense and other ministries in Georgia to improve Georgia's ability to defend itself." [19]

On December 1 the chairman of the Armenian parliament's Committee on Defense, National Security and Internal Affairs gave a lecture at the NATO Defense College in Rome. On December 3 NATO Deputy Secretary General Claudio Bisogniero met with Armenia's representative to NATO, Samvel Mkrtchyan, to discuss current and future cooperation. Armenia borders Iran and has maintained good relations with its neighbor. It is also a member of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization. Ties with Iran and Russia will not grow any closer as Armenia is further integrated with NATO.

After leaving Central Asia, on December 3 Clinton was in Bahrain to deliver a special address at the Manama Dialogue 2010 Regional Security Summit sponsored by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies and the Kingdom of Bahrain.

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Rick Rozoff has been involved in anti-war and anti-interventionist work in various capacities for forty years. He lives in Chicago, Illinois. Is the manager of the Stop NATO international email list at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/stopnato/

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