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Washington Intensifies Push Into Central Asia

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opednews.com Headlined to None 1/29/11

Washington Intensifies Push Into Central Asia
Rick Rozoff

A recent editorial on the website of Voice of America reflected on last year being one in which the United States solidified relations with the five former Soviet republics in Central Asia: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

One or more of the five nations border Afghanistan, Russia, China and Iran and several more than one of the latter. Kazakhstan, for example, adjoins China and Russia.

The U.S. and Britain, with the support of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, invaded Afghanistan and fanned out into Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan in October of 2001, less than four months after Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan founded the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to foster expanding economic, security, transportation and energy cooperation and integration in and through Central Asia. In 2005 India, Iran and Pakistan joined the SCO as observers and Afghan President Hamid Karzai has attended its last five annual heads of state summits. [1] 

Now the U.S. and the NATO have over 150,000 troops planted directly south of three Central Asian nations.

Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan are also on the Caspian Sea, a reservoir of oil and natural gas whose dimensions have only been accurately determined in the past twenty years and where American companies are active in hydrocarbon projects.

After the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, the Pentagon and its NATO allies deployed military forces to, in addition to Soviet-constructed air bases in Afghanistan, bases in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The first two countries border China.

As of last March the U.S. military confirmed that a monthly average of 50,000 American and NATO troops passed through Kyrgyzstan's Transit Center at Manas as part of the war in Afghanistan. Also last year, U.S. officials mentioned building new military training centers in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

The Voice of America feature mentioned above cited a speech by U.S. Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert O. Blake, Jr., who two years ago succeeded Richard Boucher in that role.

The State Department's Blake delivered a speech at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University in Houston, Texas entitled "The Obama Administration's Priorities in South and Central Asia."

Shorn of superfluous banter and obligatory diplomatese, his address accentuated American geopolitical designs in an area which Blake highlighted as being of vitally important interest to Washington:

"Central Asia lies at a critical strategic crossroads, bordering Afghanistan, China, Russia and Iran, which is why the United States wants to continue to expand our engagement and our cooperation with this critical region." [2]

In furtherance of U.S. designs in an area that not only abuts the four nations named, but if controlled by the U.S. would prevent regional cooperation between them except insofar as it is mediated by an outside power, Washington, Blake listed the three priorities for the region as being to:

Support international efforts in Afghanistan

Build a strategic partnership with India

Develop more durable and stable relations with the Central Asian countries
 
He commented after the above itemization: "After describing these priorities at greater length, I will then focus on energy resources in Central Asia, which I imagine is of particular interest in Houston," where ConocoPhillips,  Shell Oil Company and Halliburton's Energy Services Group have their headquarters.

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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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