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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 4/20/10

Kazakhstan: U.S., NATO Seek Military Outpost Between Russia And China

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At the same time "the state energy firms of Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan agreed [on November 14] to begin shipping Kazakh oil across the Caspian Sea from 2013.

"The deal follows up on a 2006 deal for Kazakhstan to partake in the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline project, a pipeline that bypasses Russia to transfer oil from Azerbaijan, through Georgia, to Turkey." [17]

The month before Washington's Special Envoy for European Affairs and Special Envoy for Eurasian Energy C. Boyden Gray, speaking of the Nabucco natural gas project, spoke in a vein similar to Bodman's in stating "a deal may soon be sealed allowing natural gas from ex-Soviet nations to reach western Europe bypassing Russian territory." [18]

The following January, after the change in U.S. presidential administrations, U.S. ambassador to Kazakhstan Richard Hoagland stated that "President Barack Obama's administration will adhere to policies to develop alternative energy routes from Central Asia," and "I am quite confident that Obama's administration will adhere to several alternative-routes policies for hydrocarbons transportation."[19]

Shortly afterward the same American envoy promoted the long-nurtured U.S. ambition to construct an oil pipeline under the Caspian Sea to transport Kazakh oil to Azerbaijan and connect with the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline into Europe, a project fiercely opposed by fellow Caspian nations Iran and Russia for both environmental and economic reasons.

In February of last year Hoagland said: "The U.S. government backs the so-called Kazakh Caspian transport system which calls for supplying crude oil from Eskene in Kurik [in Kazakhstan, the beginning of an Eskene-Kurik-Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan route] via a pipeline and onwards to Baku via tankers....We think the Trans-Caspian pipeline is technically and economically more advantageous than providing supplies via tankers. It is also politically well-grounded." [20]

It was announced in April of 2009 that Barack Obama would be the first American president to visit Kazakhstan, relations with which he described as "strategic." The plan didn't materialize, but may now after the further warming of relations between the two nations. [21]

On June 24-25 of last year NATO held its third-ever Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council Security Forum in the Kazakh capital of Astana, the first conducted outside Europe and on former Soviet space. It focused on "discussions of Afghanistan, Central Asia and the Caucasus and energy security." [22]

Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer presided over the event and said, "My presence here today means that cooperation between NATO and Kazakhstan is deepening." [23] Kazakhstan is the only Central Asian nation with a NATO Individual Partnership Action Plan.

"Today, Kazakhstan is NATO's most active Partner in the Central Asian region. We have also achieved solid progress in defence and military co-operation, particularly in enhancing the ability of our military forces to work together," Scheffer added. [24]

The Kazinform news agency conducted an interview with Scheffer after the forum, a gathering in which "NATO [was] seeking to deepen cooperation with its partner countries in Central Asia - Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan," and the Alliance's chief's comments included:

"I do believe that both Kazakhstan and NATO influence each other. Kazakhstan's position as an energy supplier and the political role of your president play an important role in different areas and international organizations active in this region.

"I've just come back from the Palace of the President. We did not only discuss the Central Asian region but the Middle East region as well." [25]

In August U.S. Ambassador Hoagland met with Kazakh Defense Minister Adilbek Dzhaksybekov, and the Kazakh Defense Ministry later issued a statement that said in part: "Speaking about interaction in defense and security, it is necessary to stress the importance of the five-year cooperation plan. Operations are successfully conducted in peacekeeping, training, technical assistance and development of military education.

"During the meeting Kazakh Defense Minister Dzhaksybekov paid special attention to the increased number of actions of the plan of military contacts directed to developing Kazbrig, the study of the advanced experience and organization of the U.S army, as well as the exchange of experience.

"Opportunity for training of teachers of our military institutions in the U.S. Military Academy at West Point is new and a very promising trend. During the training they can familiarize [themselves] with advanced methods of teaching and various training programs." [26]

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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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