Thursday, August 02, 2012 -
Uzbekistan is looking to prohibit all foreign military bases on its territory, local sources reported Thursday.
For some time, analysts believed that new talks between Uzbekistan and the U.S. could result in the re-opening of the U.S. military base at Karshi-Khanabad (K2), shut by Uzbekistan after the U.S. openly criticized the Uzbek crackdown on protesters in Andijan in 2005. This new measure puts an end to that speculation.
Earlier this week, the Uzbek parliament – which follows the lead of totalitarian leader Islam Karimov – voted to approve a new foreign policy in which Uzbekistan will join no political or military blocs.
However, Uzbekistan is believed to become an active participant in the Northern Distribution Network (NDN) – a loose alliance of states bordering Afghanistan that will allow U.S. and NATO troops to ferry goods and military materiel out of Afghanistan ahead of NATO withdrawal in 2014.
One analyst believes that this latest measure is a signal from Karimov to Russia that he will not actively oppose Russian interests in the region.
“It looks like Karimov is sending a signal to his Russian partners: ‘If I am no longer with you, this does not mean that I will now be against you’,” Moscow-based Central Asian expert Arkady Dubnov told the Reuters news agency.
“What’s more, Uzbekistan’s declarative ban on deployment of foreign bases on its land will not hamper its cooperation with the Americans.”
The U.S. is actively looking for a new base in Central Asia, as Kyrgyzstan has repeatedly stated that it will close the Manas Air Transit Center, located just outside the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek, to U.S. forces in 2014.