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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 4/10/10

Kyrgyzstan And The Battle For Central Asia

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Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was deposed five years after and in the same manner as he came to power, in a bloody uprising.

Elected president two months after the so-called Tulip Revolution of 2005 he helped engineer, he was since then head of state of the main transit nation for the U.S. and NATO war in Afghanistan.

The Pentagon secured the Manas Air Base (as of last year known as the Transit Center at Manas) in Kyrgyzstan shortly after its invasion of Afghanistan in October of 2001 and in the interim, according to a U.S. armed forces publication last June, "More than 170,000 coalition personnel passed through the base on their way in or out of Afghanistan, and Manas was the transit point for 5,000 tons of cargo, including spare parts and equipment, uniforms and various items to support personnel and mission needs.

"Currently, around 1,000 U.S. troops, along with a few hundred from Spain and France, are assigned to the base." [1]

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The White House's Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke paid his first visit in his current position to Kyrgyzstan - and the three other former Soviet Central Asian republics which border it, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan - in February and said "35,000 US troops were transiting each month on their way in and out of Afghanistan." [2] At the rate he mentioned, 420,000 troops annually.

The U.S. and NATO also established military bases in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan for the war in South Asia, but on a smaller scale. (U.S. military forces were ordered out of the second country following what the government claimed was a Tulip Revolution-type armed uprising in its province of Andijan less than two months after the Kyrgyz precedent. Germany maintains a base near the Uzbek city of Termez to transit troops and military equipment to Afghanistan's Kunduz province where the majority of its 4,300 forces are concentrated.)

In February of 2009 the Kyrgyz government announced that it was also evicting U.S. and NATO forces from its country, but relented in June when Washington offered it $60 million to reverse its decision.

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Kyrgyzstan borders China.

It not only borders China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, but is only separated from Russia by a single nation, Kazakhstan. To gain an appreciation of Russian and Chinese concerns over hundreds of thousands of U.S. and NATO troops passing through Kyrgyzstan, imagine a comparable amount of Chinese and Russian soldiers regularly passing through Mexico and Guatemala, respectively. For almost nine years and at an accelerating rate.

It is not only a military "hard power" but also a "soft power" threat that the Western role in Kyrgyzstan poses to Russia and China.

The nation is a member of the post-Soviet Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) along with Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan - seen by many as the only counterpart to NATO on former Soviet space - and of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) with China, Russia and the three above-mentioned Central Asian nations.

According to U.S. officials, during and after the Tulip Revolution of 2005 not a single U.S. or NATO flight into the Manas Air Base was cancelled or even delayed. But a six-nation CSTO exercise scheduled for days afterward was cancelled.

The uprising and the deposing of standing president Askar Akayev in March of 2005 was the third self-styled "color revolution" in the former Soviet Union in sixteen months, following the Rose Revolution in Georgia in late 2003 and the Orange Revolution in Ukraine in late 2004 and early 2005.

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As the Kyrgyz version was underway Western news media were asking the question "Who's next?" Candidates included other former Soviet states like Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Moldova and Uzbekistan. And Russia. Along with Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan those nations accounted for ten of the twelve members of the post-Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

As Agence France-Presse detailed in early April of 2005: "The CIS was founded in December 1991 on the very day the Soviet Union disappeared....But over the past year and a half, three faithful Kremlin allies were toppled in...revolutions: Eduard Shevardnadze in Georgia, Leonid Kuchma in Ukraine, and, last week, Askar Akayev in Kyrgyzstan....Even though Kyrgyzstan's new interim leaders have vowed to continue their deposed predecessor's Moscow-friendly policies, the lightning toppling of the government there has spawned speculation that the CIS would soon collapse." [3]

The leader of the "color revolution" prototype, Georgia's Mikheil Saakashvili, gloated over the Kyrgyz "regime change," attributing the "brave" actions of the opposition in Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan "to the Georgia factor," and added, "We are not waiting for the development of events, but are doing our best to destroy the empire in the CIS." [4]

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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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