Tags: Moscow | Opposes | U.S. | Presence | Asia

Moscow Opposes U.S. Presence in Asia

Saturday, 23 February 2002 12:00 AM

He admits that U.S. troop deployment in these republics was necessary for the success of the anti-terrorist operation but adds that "these bases are there on a temporary basis and only until the end of the operation.

"I wouldn't raise the degree of our concern to an unnecessarily high level," Mr. Ivanov said, pointing to statements by U.S. officials who have said that no permanent bases are planned.

His statement, however, reflects the view of Moscow's political elite, which has voiced fear that the U.S. might use its military presence to end Russia's sway over the region, which the Russian Empire conquered in the 19th century.

Russian leaders are deeply concerned over this question, because they understand very clearly that U. S. presence in the region will reduce Moscow's influence in the former Soviet Central Asian republics and could create in these and neighboring countries a new strategic environment that would be advantageous to America and our friends and allies.

Currently, U.S. troops have been deployed at the former Soviet air base in Uzbekistan and at an airport in Kyrgyzstan. Other allied forces are expected to move into bases in Tajikistan and Kazakhstan.

Until now, the local regimes in these countries, whose people are sick and tired of Moscow's domination, have happily accepted the presence of U.S. and allied forces as a counterbalance to Russian intentions to operate in Central Asia as if it were Russia's own private backyard.

The presence of the U.S. and our allies in the area, which NEVER had any semblance of democracy in its entire history, will be helpful for the Western world. By promoting democratic ideas, human rights and principles of freedom, we can destroy the foundation of radical Muslim fundamentalism, the basis for international terrorism in the region.

There is no doubt that a minimal and reasonable U.S. presence in Central Asia will provide us with a unique historical opportunity to advance America's strategic interests.

The situation in Afghanistan is different, however, because destruction of open and massive resistance from Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters is being followed by clear evidence of guerrilla war and clashes between warlords,who previously were engaged in the war on terror.

As interim Afghan leader Hamid Karzai said on Feb. 17, he would do everything necessary to ensure security after the assassination of his tourism and civil aviation minister and an attack on British troops.

But as Mr. Karzai pledged security, reports came in of factional clashes in northern and eastern Afghanistan, where old tribal and ethnic rivalries have exploded into bloodshed since the defeat of the Taliban.

It is obvious that we have to keep our troops away from direct military involvement in Afghanistan's domestic turmoil as much as possible and expend our resources supporting only those powers in the country that can accept and promote ideas of democracy and a free-market economy.

It is as difficult to know how long this situation will exist in Afghanistan as it is to predict the duration of the war on terrorism.

However, the strategic position of Afghanistan, located in the heart of Asia, is important in the development of future events in the area that could prove favorable to American interests only if we preserve our presence there.

In this case it's not necessary to limit the U.S. position by having only permanent bases for American troops in Central and Southern Asia, because the U.S. has many other ways of maintaining its presence in the strategically important future of the region.

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He admits that U.S. troop deployment in these republics was necessary for the success of the anti-terrorist operation but adds that these bases are there on a temporary basis and only until the end of the operation. I wouldn't raise the degree of our concern to an...
Saturday, 23 February 2002 12:00 AM
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