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Thread: Analysis: Kyrgyz base a Kremlin test for Obama

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    Default Analysis: Kyrgyz base a Kremlin test for Obama

    Analysis: Kyrgyz base a Kremlin test for Obama

    By DOUGLAS BIRCH – 1 hour ago


    MOSCOW (AP) — The Kremlin's message to President Barack Obama is clear: if the U.S. wants Central Asian help in its war against the Taliban, it must deal first with Russia.

    A $2 billion aid pledge from Russia appears to be behind Kyrgyzstan's announcement that it will close a U.S. air base that has played a key role in American military operations in Afghanistan.

    The announcement Tuesday by the Kyrgyz president came as the Obama Administration prepares a major expansion of military operations in Afghanistan, in order to counter the growing strength of insurgents.

    Russian President Dmitry Medvedev struck a conciliatory tone Wednesday, saying Moscow and its former Central Asian vassal states are "ready for full-fledged comprehensive cooperation with the United States and other coalition members in fighting terrorism in the region."

    But coming a day after the Kyrgyz eviction notice, the underlying signal was that, when it comes to bases in Central Asia, Washington must deal with Moscow or not at all.

    In the short term, the Kremlin may be seeking a bargaining chip in bitter disputes over NATO expansion and plans for a U.S.-built European missile defense system.

    Russia may also link cooperation on the air base to the West's acceptance of Moscow's plans to establish military outposts in two separatist provinces of the former Soviet nation of Georgia.

    In the long term, however, Moscow seems determined to restore some of its historic influence over much of its former Czarist and Soviet empires.

    Tuesday's announcement seemed to catch U.S. diplomats by surprise. Until then, Washington was hoping to see Russia back off from its pressure on Kyrgyzstan to kick the U.S. off the base.

    Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin told reporters Wednesday that the Kyrgyz decision had nothing to do with the Kremlin's huge aid package. "We do not tend to see those things as connected," he said.

    But many experts saw Kyrgyzstan's decision as a straightforward business deal: Bishkek evicts the Americans, Moscow hands over more than $2 billion.

    If so, it was an offer Kyrgyzstan could not refuse.

    Months of crippling electricity shortages, soaring food prices and rampant unemployment have caused misery for much of the population. Kyrgyzstan — which unlike other Central Asian nations has almost no energy resources — received a further shock this winter after neighboring Uzbekistan jacked up prices for natural gas.

    Russia's offer "of a really large bundle of money comes at a time when Kyrgyzstan is pretty much on the brink," said Paul Quinn-Judge, Central Asia Project Director for the International Crisis Group.

    Moscow and the U.S. have a long history of cooperation in Afghanistan, dating back to the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks in the U.S.

    But that cooperation suffered after the August war in Georgia, which saw Russian troops push deep into Georgian territory. The Kremlin accused the U.S. of supporting alleged Georgian aggression.

    The Kyrgyz air base, located at the Manas airport near the capital of Bishkek, is the United States' only military foothold in Central Asia, a strategically located region straddling Europe and close to volatile nations like Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    Central Asia has been the subject of intense rivalry among the major powers since the 19th century, when the novelist Rudyard Kipling called the struggle "The Great Game."

    There were additional moves in the 21st Century version of that game Wednesday, when Russia announced that seven former Soviet nations — including four Central Asian ones — would form a rapid reaction military force.

    The new formation would be part of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, which so far has mostly been a talking shop for leaders of seven former Soviet states.

    Now, it seems, it has become a vehicle to stop the U.S. from striking bilateral military deals with former Soviet states.

    Tuesday was not the first time Kyrgyz officials threatened to evict the U.S. from the base.

    Officials have frequently complained that the U.S. wasn't paying enough rent, currently $63 million annually. Tensions rose in 2006 when an American serviceman shot and killed a Kyrgyz truck driver during a security check at the base gate.

    A number of analysts suggested that Kyrgyz officials may yet change their minds, despite Russian pressure. Parliament could still reject the plan, setting the stage for new negotiations.

    It is not clear what alternatives the U.S. might have to the base, located at the Manas airport outside Bishkek.

    Gen. David Petraeus, chief of the U.S. military's Central Command, said last month that agreements had been reached to use supply routes through Central Asia. But details have not been announced.

    Moscow has sent mixed signals about the prospects for warmer relations with Washington following the election of Barack Obama.

    Both Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin suggested in December that they welcomed overtures from the new administration.

    But Putin in particular remained harshly critical of the U.S. in some public statements.

    The air base is home to tanker aircraft that refuel warplanes flying over Afghanistan. It also supports airlifts and medical evacuation operations and houses troops heading into and out of Afghanistan.

    Peter Leonard in Almaty, Kazakhstan and Lynn Berry in Moscow contributed to this analysis. Moscow Bureau Chief Douglas Birch has covered Russia and the former Soviet Union since 2001.

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    Default Re: Analysis: Kyrgyz base a Kremlin test for Obama

    Kyrgyzstan: Bargaining With the U.S., Russia

    February 4, 2009 | 1737 GMT
    Kyrgyzstan — Man with Sheep Near Manas Air Base


    A man with sheep near Manas Air Base watchtower

    Summary

    There are conflicting reports surfacing in Kyrgyzstan over the closing of the U.S. air base at Manas. While the Kyrgyz president looks to be sending an eviction notice to the Americans, this could just be yet another ploy for him to play the United States off of the Russians for his own country’s financial gain.

    Analysis

    Conflicting reports came from Kyrgyzstan on Feb. 4 concerning the closure of the U.S. military air base at Manas. The Kyrgyz Parliament received a draft of a bill to close the base, although U.S. military officials at Manas said they have not received any official notice of the closure. Kyrgyzstan’s recent negotiations are merely a part of the larger picture of U.S.-Russian relations in Central Asia.

    The contradictions come a day after Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev announced that he would soon close the base — something he has threatened repeatedly in the past. But this time, Bakiyev’s announcement comes as the United States and Russia are in a struggle over each of the Central Asian states. The United States is attempting to solidify its influence in the region as it looks for alternative supply routes to Afghanistan, with Central Asia being America’s main alternative. Russia is attempting to counter the U.S. moves in order to maintain its hold over the Soviet states.

    Manas Air Base itself is not part of the alternative routes the United States is trying to establish, as it has been part of the U.S. airlift capabilities into Afghanistan since 2001. However, with the United States looking to expand its mission in Afghanistan, the loss of Manas would exponentially complicate Washington’s plans.

    The struggle over the Central Asian states or Manas is not new. In 2005, Moscow sought to evict the United States from Manas and its other bases in Uzbekistan — the latter efforts were successful at the time. But Moscow was unable to shake the Americans out of Kyrgyzstan because Bishkek is not interested in political issues between Moscow and Washington. Instead, Kyrgyzstan has been preoccupied with just one thing: money. Kyrgyzstan has used its location as a source of income for several years. In 2005, when the issue of U.S. bases in Central Asia was being hotly contested, Uzbekistan quickly evicted the Americans in order to please their former Soviet masters. However, Kyrgyzstan toyed with both the Russians and the Americans, raising the rent on each of their bases in the country without siding with either in the end.

    The same situation is happening now. In late 2008, when the United States began to negotiate with the Central Asian states on possible alternative routes, Kyrgyzstan (though not a part of that plan) knew it was time to once again to play its strategic location for monetary benefit. Here is how the recent events have unfolded with Bakiyev playing one side off the other:

    * In early December 2008, the United States finally offered to pay the raised rent agreed upon by both sides in 2007 — an increase from $80 million to $150 million.
    * In late December 2008, Russia quickly countered the Americans with a $2 billion “loan” for Kyrgyzstan at a time when the country is on the brink of bankruptcy. Moscow and Bishkek both know that the money was never intended to be a loan, but a cash prize to influence the small Central Asian state back to its side. The Americans are still not quite aware that the loans Russia is offering are actually just cash like the United States is offering, so their counteroffers tend to be a bit skewed.
    * On Jan. 12, Bakiyev announced that he had sent papers to Parliament for the expulsion of the U.S. forces from Manas.
    * On Jan. 19, U.S. Central Command Chief Gen. David Petraeus visited Kyrgyzstan, where he topped off the earlier offer with another $64 million to the Kyrgyz government and, according to Stratfor sources, a $25 million signing bonus for Bakiyev.
    * On Jan. 22, Bakiyev announced that he never actually sent the papers to Parliament and that the United States would remain at Manas.
    * On Feb. 2, Bakiyev agreed to another series of “loans” from Moscow for $300 million plus a $150 million grant write-off and a $180 million debt write-off.
    * On Feb. 3, Bakiyev again announces the eviction of the United States from Manas.

    The next step is to watch for a U.S. counterproposal. Bakiyev is playing the game well for now, even though he knows that, in the end, Russia has much more influence within his country politically, economically, financially and militarily.

    Until recently, Russia has not worried itself about the U.S. presence in Manas, especially since Kyrgyzstan is not one of the critical Central Asian states to keep under its influence. However, Russia now sees the small state as a bargaining chip within its larger negotiations with the United States. Russia might be pressing the issue in order to give the United States an indication that it is unwilling to accommodate Kyrgyzstan’s vacillation and also reinforce the fact that Washington needs to deal with Moscow before throwing another bone to Bishkek.

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    Default Re: Analysis: Kyrgyz base a Kremlin test for Obama

    February 5, 2009
    Dispute Mounts Over Key U.S. Base in Kyrgyzstan
    By ELLEN BARRY and MICHAEL SCHWIRTZ

    MOSCOW — A day after the president of Kyrgyzstan announced plans to close a key United States military base in his country, potentially jeopardizing NATO supply lines to Afghanistan, American diplomats and military officials in the region said Wednesday the base was still operating and negotiations on its future were continuing.

    But the Kyrgyz government said it has already approved a law to end its cooperation with Washington, and its Parliament will vote on it Friday.

    A statement released Wednesday argued that the American mission in Afghanistan has outlasted its original goals, saying that the terrorist threat “has been removed,” and that NATO air strikes in Afghanistan have caused an unacceptable rise in civilian casualties.

    President Kurmanbek Bakiyev announced the decision to close the facility on Tuesday during a visit to Moscow to seek financial support. The closure would be a victory for Russian leaders, who saw the base as an American attempt to assert control in the region. And by eliminating a vital refueling and transport point for NATO forces, it would present a blunt challenge to President Obama’s highest foreign policy priority: the war in Afghanistan.

    In a statement on Wednesday, the United States Embassy in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, said it had not received a formal notification of the decision, and that discussions with Kyrgyz authorities are continuing. If Parliament approves the law, Kyrgyz authorities must give Washington 180 days’ notice before closing the base, according to the original treaty, which was signed in 2001 by Mr. Bakiyev’s predecessor.

    The move could disrupt a fragile détente between Moscow and Washington that emerged after President Obama took office. Afghanistan has been seen as a jumping-off point for cooperation between the United States and Russia, which is wary of the spread of Islamic extremism.

    “It’s an extremely serious point, because the premise of American policy is that there is a common interest here,” said Stephen Sestanovich, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, which is based in New York. “If they’re trying to tell us otherwise, that message will get through.”

    The question of supply lines to NATO and American forces in Afghanistan has become increasingly acute with attacks on the centuries-old route from Pakistan over the Khyber Pass.

    On Tuesday, Taliban militants blew up a bridge, forcing the suspension of road shipments. According to The Associated Press on Wednesday, militants then torched 10 trucks stranded in Pakistan as a result of the destruction of the bridge.

    The uncertainties surrounding the supply lines have added urgency to American and NATO efforts to secure alternative supply lines through Central Asia.

    This is not the first time United States officials have rushed to forestall expulsion from the base at Manas. During negotiations this summer, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the U.S. would pay more than $150 million in assistance and compensation for the base this year. At the time, a government statement said the United States had contributed more than $850 million to support democracy, economic development, aid projects and security in the Kyrgyz Republic since its independence from the Soviet Union.

    At a news conference in Moscow on Tuesday, Mr. Bakiyev complained about a 2006 incident in which a U.S. serviceman had shot a Kyrgyz truck driver on the base, and said Washington had ignored his requests for more money.

    “Eight years have passed,” he said. “We have repeatedly raised with the United States the matter of economic compensation for the existence of the base in Kyrgyzstan, but we have not been understood.”

    Mr. Bakiyev arrived in Moscow under intense pressure to ease economic troubles in Kyrgyzstan, which is heavily in debt to Russia and dependent on remittances from migrant workers. President Dmitri A. Medvedev said Russia would extend a $2 billion loan and $150 million in aid to Kyrgyzstan.

    Andronik Migranyan, an analyst at a Kremlin-backed think-tank based in New York, said the United States presence in Central Asia was supposed to be temporary. If the American side makes concessions — on missile defense and NATO enlargement, in particular — Russia may be willing to support American aims in Afghanistan, he said.

    “This needs to be viewed from a wider context,” said Mr. Migranyan, of the Institute of Democracy and Cooperation. “The American government is involved in many things that Russia does not like, and this is something of a bargaining chip.”

    But others saw it as a blunt projection of Russian power in its neighboring countries — and in the world.

    “The fact that a rather little country has decided to take the payoff is intriguing,” said Paul Quinn-Judge, a Central Asia expert with the International Crisis Group, a nongovernmental organization that seeks to resolve deadly conflicts. “But what is really striking is that the Russians seem to be at this point tightening the screws and trying to get D.C.’s attention in the nastiest possible way.”

    Kyrgyzstan’s close relations with the United States have long unsettled Russia and China, which both have military interests in the region.

    In 2005, the country appeared to move further into Washington’s orbit after a popular uprising, supported in part by the United States, toppled the corrupt and increasingly authoritarian government of Askar A. Akayev, sending the president fleeing across the border. The bloodless coup was part of a wave of popular revolts, known as colored revolutions, that remain a source of anger and suspicion among Russian officials, who consider them Washington-hatched schemes meant to undermine Russia’s influence in the region.

    Similar uprisings in Georgia and Ukraine ushered in governments that quickly sought to shut out Moscow’s influence in favor of stronger ties with the West. Kyrgyzstan, however, has often sought to strike a balance among Washington, Moscow and Beijing. The government has allowed Russia to maintain a military base on Kyrgyz soil and is a member, along with China, Russia and three other Central Asian countries, of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a security alliance.

    Upon his election in 2005, Mr. Bakiyev vowed to pursue an independent foreign policy, saying that Kyrgyzstan would not be “a place for the fulfillment of someone else’s geopolitical interests.”

    Alan Cowell contributed from London.

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    Default Re: Analysis: Kyrgyz base a Kremlin test for Obama

    Russia, Allies Offer to Assist U.S. in Afghanistan (Update2)

    By Lucian Kim and Ken Fireman

    Feb. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Russia and four former Soviet republics offered to help the U.S. campaign in Afghanistan even as one, Kyrgyzstan, moved forward on a decision to cut off American access to an air base used for war supplies.

    Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said the five countries, including the Central Asian nations of Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan, are ready for “full-fledged and comprehensive cooperation” with NATO forces in the region. He spoke on state broadcaster Vesti-24 today.

    At the same time, Kyrgyz Security Council Secretary Adukhan Madumarov said on the same channel that the U.S. air base at the Manas airport near Bishkek must cease operations within 180 days. The base would be crucial to President Barack Obama’s plans for a buildup of troops to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan.

    The Kyrgyz Parliament will likely vote Feb. 6 on legislation formally renouncing the agreement allowing U.S. operations at the base, the Interfax news agency reported from Bishkek.

    Andranik Migranyan, a Russian institute director with ties to senior officials in Moscow, said Russian cooperation on Afghanistan may be linked to progress on resolving differences over issues such as missile defense and NATO expansion.

    “I am absolutely sure the Russian side is going to cooperate,” said Migranyan, director of the New York-based Institute for Democracy and Cooperation, in an interview. “But Russia needs some security guarantees. Not guarantees about dominance, but about its own security.”

    Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev disclosed the move to close the base in Moscow yesterday after receiving a Russian pledge for more than $2 billion in economic assistance.

    No Notification

    The U.S. hasn’t received any notification from Kyrgyz officials about a base closure and still hopes to negotiate a way to preserve American access, spokesmen for the State and Defense departments said. “We’re having discussions with the Kyrgyz about this and we’ll continue to do so,” said State Department spokesman Robert Wood.

    There may be basis for the hope of keeping the base accessible to the U.S., said an expert on the region, Stephen Larrabee of the RAND Corp. policy research organization in Arlington, Virginia.

    “It is not clear if this is a final and formal decision or whether they’re playing hardball to try to get more money out of the United States,” said Larrabee, who is head of European security at RAND. “It’s just not clear whether the game is over.”

    Afghan View

    Afghanistan’s ambassador to the U.S., Said Jawad, said that based on recent history he thought a solution could be found to preserve U.S. access to the base.

    “In the past we have had these ups and downs with some of the northern neighbors, but always a solution was found,” Jawad said in an interview yesterday. “Usually they ask for more money or some kind of concession. In the end they will come forward.”

    Russia’s role and motive in the base closure are also open to interpretation, said Larrabee and Paul Saunders, a Russia expert at the Nixon Center in Washington.

    Saunders said that, while Russian pressure was a factor in the Kyrgyz move to close the base, Kyrgyzstan and other Central Asian governments have grown increasingly wary of a U.S. presence in their region.

    Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin told reporters today that the base closure was Kyrgyzstan’s independent decision and not connected to the Russian aid package.

    Central Asia

    Saunders said the main message Russian leaders are trying to deliver is that they insist on playing a brokering role between the U.S. and the Central Asian nations.

    “The message is that they really want us to take into account their interests in that part of the world, and we’re going to need to deal with them,” he said. “We can’t just go directly to all these governments and get what we want if they’re not involved.”

    Jawad agreed, saying Russia was concerned about Western influence in Central Asia. “Russia is trying to push some of our northern neighbors not to be too cooperative with the U.S. and NATO,” he said.

    Larrabee said Medvedev’s statement about cooperation on Afghanistan was an effort to “keep their options open with the United States and see whether some kind of arrangement can be worked out.”

    He said Russian leaders may be prepared to offer help, such as the use of their airspace to transport supplies, in return for U.S. concessions on issues of importance to them. Such issues include Russian resistance to U.S. plans for a missile defense system based in Eastern Europe and support of NATO membership for Ukraine and Georgia, he said.

    Russian Leaders

    Migranyan agreed with that interpretation, saying Russian leaders “would like to discuss with the United States in a broader context the problem of cooperation.”

    Migranyan’s institute was established to seek improved U.S.-Russian relations. While it isn’t directly connected to the Russian government, he has what he described as “very good relations with our authorities.” He said he just returned from a trip to Moscow, during which he consulted with several senior Russian officials.

    Karasin, speaking to reporters on a conference call, said Russians are “interested in the success of the anti-terrorist coalition in Afghanistan because it’s our common concern.”

    Russia and its partners in the so-called Collective Security Treaty Organization agreed to form a rapid-reaction force at their meeting in Moscow today, Vesti-24 reported. Medvedev said the unit won’t be any worse than equivalent forces belonging to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

    A bruising 10-year war in Afghanistan helped lead to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and gave rise to Islamic militants such as Osama bin Laden, who resisted the Russian invasion.

    To contact the reporters on this story: Lucian Kim in Moscow at lkim3@bloomberg.net; Ken Fireman in Washington at kfireman1@bloomberg.net
    Last Updated: February 4, 2009 19:52 EST

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    Default Re: Analysis: Kyrgyz base a Kremlin test for Obama

    Kyrgyzstan Says U.S. Will No Longer Have Access to Critical Air Base

    Wednesday, February 04, 2009

    After announcing $2 billion in loans from Russia, the president of Kyrgyzstan announced the United States will no longer have access to the Manas air base, the lone base U.S. commanders have permission to use in Central Asia and a key supply line for U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

    "More than once we have discussed with our American partners the subject of the economic compensation to Kyrgyzstan for the presence [of the U.S. base], but unfortunately, we did not find an understanding from the United States," Kyrgyzstan President Kurmanbek Bakiyev said Tuesday. "For over three years, we have been talking of the need to review the terms of the agreement, which do not satisfy us completely, yet we have not seen an understanding from the United States."

    Less than 24 hours later, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said he and his ex-Soviet allies want to cooperate with Washington in Afghanistan in return for no expansion among NATO membership and a U.S. reversal on a missile defense shield for Europe that Russia opposes.

    "Missile defense is a piece of it," said George Friedman, CEO of Stratfor Security. "The entire question that's on the table here is will the U.S. recognize the Russians' sphere of influence in the former Soviet Union in return for providing a supply line into Afghanistan?"

    The Kyrgyz Parliament has started drafting legislation demanding the exodus of the U.S. military, which pays $17.4 million annually to lease the base that sees 15,000 U.S. personnel and 500 tons of equipment pass through its doors each month. That lease agreement is part of $150 million given to the Kyrgyz government for various programs.

    U.S. officials, however, say they haven't received an eviction notice.

    "We have not received any formal communication from the Kyrgyz authorities of any decisions to close the base," State Department Deputy Spokesman Robert Wood said.

    The current lease, which expires in July, requires that the Kyrgyz give 180 days notice to break the agreement.

    "Whether or not we pay more money is certainly a subject of discussion," Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said. "But that shouldn't be a surprise. In any negotiation, money is often at issue and hopefully we'll come to an agreement and can continue the use of the air base."

    Morell said the Russian government is aware that the Obama administration wants to nearly double the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan this year and that the two land routes into Pakistan — through which the U.S. military receives 80 percent of its supplies — are increasingly vulnerable to attack. Insurgents destroyed a 100-foot iron bridge in the Khyber Pass Tuesday, cutting the main route for supplies bound for NATO forces in Afghanistan.

    Supreme Allied Commander Gen. John Craddock has suggested NATO allies could approach Tehran about opening up an Iranian route.

    Russia, meanwhile, is holding a summit in Moscow today with four former Soviet Central Asian states to arrange a Joint Security pact that would allow it to use the Manas air base and place 10,000 troops there.

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    Default Re: Analysis: Kyrgyz base a Kremlin test for Obama

    updated 1 hour, 2 minutes ago

    Post-Soviet nations to form military force

    * Story Highlights
    * Seven nations agree to form rapid-reaction force
    * Russian media say force will fight terrorism, respond to disasters
    * It will be based in Russia under a single command
    * Report comes after Kyrgyzstan says it will close U.S. base


    MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) -- A Russian-led bloc of post-Soviet nations has agreed to establish a rapid-reaction military force to combat terrorists and respond to regional emergencies, Russian media reported Wednesday.

    The decision came a day after reports that Kyrgyzstan is planning to close a strategically important U.S. military base that Washington uses to transport troops and supplies into Afghanistan.

    On Wednesday, the Collective Security Treaty Organization -- made up of Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan -- decided on the rapid-reaction force at a Kremlin summit, the Russian news agency RIA-Novosti reported.

    The group's security council "spent a long time discussing the central issue of forming collective reaction forces and, generally, of rapid reaction to possible threats," said Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, according to Russian news agency Interfax.

    "Everyone agreed that the formation of joint forces is necessary," he said.

    Officials told Russian media that all the members had signed the agreement, though Uzbekistan submitted a special provision.

    Uzbekistan doesn't mind contributing military units to the rapid-reaction force "but does not consider it necessary for the moment" to attach emergency responders, drug-control forces and other special services, organization spokesman Vitaly Strugovets told Interfax.

    Russian media reported that the force will be used to fight military aggressors, conduct anti-terror operations, battle regional drug trafficking and respond to natural disasters. The force will be based in Russia under a single command, with member nations contributing military units.

    On Tuesday, Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev announced at a Moscow news conference that "all due procedures" were being initiated to close Manas Air Base, RIA-Novosti reported. The announcement was made after news reports of a multimillion-dollar aid package from Russia to Kyrgyzstan.

    Gen. David Petraeus, who oversees U.S. operations in the Middle East and Central Asia, including Afghanistan, was in Kyrgyzstan last month, partly to lobby the government to allow the United States to keep using the base. He said he and Kyrgyz leaders did not discuss "at all" the possible closure of the base and said local officials told him there was "no foundation" for news reports about the issue.

    The United States is planning to send an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan to halt a resurgence of the Taliban. Petraeus described Manas as having "an important role in the deployment of these forces" and in refueling aircraft.

    The relationship between the United States and Kyrgyzstan was damaged when a Kyrgyz citizen was killed by a U.S. airman in December 2006. The airman was transferred out of Kyrgyzstan, and the dead man's family was offered compensation. Petraeus said in January that the investigation was being reopened.

    As he announced the base closure Tuesday, Bakiyev said he was not satisfied with the inquiry into the accident and his government's "inability to provide security to its citizens" was proving a serious concern.

    Medvedev also weighed in on the issue Wednesday, saying the base closure shouldn't hamper anti-terrorism operations, according to Interfax.

    "It would be great if their numbers meant there were fewer terrorists, but such action depends on other things as well," he said.

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    Default Re: Analysis: Kyrgyz base a Kremlin test for Obama

    EURASIA INSIGHT RUSSIA: TRYING TO PUT THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION ON THE DEFENSIVE
    Sergei Blagov 2/04/09

    As part of a one-two punch combination designed to send the Obama administration a powerful message, the Kremlin has followed up on Kyrgyzstan’s announced intention to close the lone US air base in Central Asia by unveiling a Russian-led rapid reaction force.

    The rapid reaction force, the creation of which was announced February 4 during a meeting of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) in Moscow, will be designed to respond to regional security challenges. The backbone of the new force, according to a report by the official Russian RIA Novosti news agency, may be the 98th Guards Airborne Division, a unit that participated in Russia’s lightning war with Georgia in August 2008. The rapid reaction force would also likely have at least token contingents from the other CSTO member states, including Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.

    That the creation of new CSTO force came immediately after the Kyrgyz government’s initiative to oust American forces from the Manas base does not seem coincidental. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive]. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev went out of his way to draw parallels between the envisioned CSTO unit and NATO’s peace-making capabilities.

    "This will be a formidable [CSTO] force, adequate in number [and] equipped with the most modern equipment," RIA Novosti quoted Medvedev as saying. "In their military potential, they [CSTO the rapid reaction troops] should be no worse than North Atlantic alliance forces."

    The clear implication of Medvedev’s statement is that the CSTO force could be a ready replacement for departing US and NATO troops, should the eviction process at Manas continue. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive].

    To emphasize the seriousness of its intent, the Kremlin orchestrated a strong show of CSTO unity. Such a sense of unity was glaring in its absence in 2008, when the CSTO failed to unequivocally endorse Russia’s actions in Georgia and Moscow’s subsequent recognition of the separatist entities of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive].

    Even Tajikistan, which has been barely on speaking terms with Russia in recent weeks, rallied behind the Kremlin’s plans. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive]. In early February, aides to Tajik President Imomali Rahmon announced that pressing duties at home would prevent him from attending the CSTO summit. But there Rahmon was in Moscow on February 4, going out of his way to downplay speculation about a rift between Moscow and Dushanbe.

    Kazakhstan went along with Russia’s plans too. But there are signs that Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev did so reluctantly. In a February 2 article distributed by the Interfax news agency, Nazarbayev hinted in a backhanded way that the Kremlin may be getting carried away with trying to get back at the United States for precipitating the global financial crisis. Russia has been one of the hardest hit nations by the global market nosedive over the past few months. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive]. Kazakhstan, for that matter, has also taken a big hit [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive].

    Rather than apportion blame, or seek a measure of revenge, Nazarbayev said the scope of the crisis is sufficiently huge that any given nation’s attention and resources should be focused on promoting a recovery. Nations should be coming together, rather than taking swipes at each other. "At present, it is more important to concentrate on identifying the deep defects in the system that have caused these strong global cataclysms, and above all, on searching for ways of completely eliminating them," Nazarbayev wrote.

    Russian political analysts have hailed the recent geopolitical turn of events in Moscow, especially the move to rid Central Asia of its American military base. Some experts expressed wariness on two counts, however. Kyrgyzstan could prove an unpleasantly expensive client state for Russia, a few said. Others cautioned that the United States, if it sees no other alternative to keeping its troops in Kyrgyzstan, might try to promote a coup to remove Bakiyev from power.

    Editor's Note: Sergei Blagov is a Moscow-based specialist in CIS political affairs.
    Posted February 4, 2009 © Eurasianet
    http://www.eurasianet.org

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    Default Re: Analysis: Kyrgyz base a Kremlin test for Obama

    Bakiyev Pleases Moscow, Seeks to Oust U.S. Military Base

    Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 6 Issue: 23
    February 4, 2009 04:48 PM Age: 7 hrs
    Category: Eurasia Daily Monitor, Kyrgyzstan, Military/Security, Home Page, Featured
    By: Erica Marat

    At a February 3 press conference in Moscow Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev announced that his government had decided to shut down the U.S. military base at the Manas airport. Although Bakiyev had previously been playing with the idea of ousting the U.S. base, his statements were rather taken as an attempt to please Moscow than readiness to break relations with Washington. This time, however, Bakiyev seems to be determined to satisfy Moscow's demands and get rid of the U.S. presence. In return, the president secures Kremlin's political support and more financial flows.

    Jamestown has repeatedly informed about the strong pro-Russian views in Kyrgyzstan among politicians and the masses. The views are nurtured by the Russian mass media that has a near monopoly in the country. Since the mid 2000s, both Russian and local newspapers have been attacking the U.S. government and the Manas base from various angles. There were repeatedly reports that the base was enmeshed in drug trafficking, contained nuclear weapons, and planned to attack Iran. The anti-U.S. campaign was highly successful, with rumors such as these shaping public opinion. The accidental killing of a Kyrgyz track driver by a U.S. serviceman in December 2006 served as a catalyst for the public's negative perception of the U.S. politics in the country. Then, mass media outlets speculated that the U.S. was intentionally seeking to destabilize the country through a military presence.

    Uncompromising pro-Russia views in Kyrgyzstan are homegrown too. A flock of experts openly propagate Russian nationalist visions. Leonid Bondarets, a former member of the president's Institute for Strategic Studies, for instance, often merges reality with fantasy while talking about the U.S. government's intentions in Central Asia. Last May Bondarets told Jamestown that the U.S. systematically undermined Kyrgyzstan's stability. According to him, only Russia was able and genuinely interested in helping Kyrgyzstan resist security threats. Bondarets and experts similar to him are arduous public campaigners in Kyrgyzstan.

    During his visit to Moscow, Bakiyev and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev formed a joint stock company between Kyrgyz Elekrticheskie Stantsii and Russian Inter RAO EES. Russia will allocate $1.7 billion credit for the construction of the Kambarata-1 hydropower station from 2009 through 2013 (www.24.kg, February 4). This sum is part of the $2 billion assistance to Kyrgyzstan promised by then-President Vladimir Putin in August 2007. The prospective funding has been broadly broadcast in the Russian mass media and by Kyrgyz politicians.

    The Kremlin in turn has been pressing Bakiyev to shut down the U.S. base since March 2005, when he came to power. Moscow chose, however, to pressure Bakiyev harder at a time when U.S. President Barack Obama intends to increase efforts to stabilize Afghanistan. The base's strategic value is increasing, while America's international image is recovering. By closing the base, Bakiyev is securing Kremlin support in the upcoming Kyrgyz presidential elections.

    Yet, the success of the $1.7 billion deal for Kambarata-1 is less clear. Medvedev's recent visit to Uzbekistan has shown that the Kremlin considers Uzbek gas ahead of any other issue in Central Asia. Medvedev supported his Uzbek counterpart's view that upstream countries-Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan-must comply with the conditions set by downstream countries. While agreeing to purchase Uzbek gas for the market price, Medvedev approved the Uzbek regime's hostility toward the construction of the Rogun hydropower site in Tajikistan, which would make the Tajik energy market more independent. In constructing the Kambarata hydropower station, the Kremlin is similarly prioritizing its relations with Tashkent.

    Furthermore, according to Shukhrat Ganiyev, a lawyer from Uzbekistan, Russia is eager to force former Soviet states into greater dependence on the ruble in order to avert devaluation of its national currency. For the past few months labor migrants working in Russia have been allowed to transfer money home only in rubles, thus supporting its value.

    Omurbek Tekebayev, leader of the opposition Ata Meken party, told Jamestown that Bakiyev once again demonstrated his primitive approach to foreign policy, contradicting his own promises and disregarding the country's national interests. Tekebayev expressed his concern that changes in Kyrgyzstan's foreign policy would lead to changes in domestic policy, further dragging down its democracy and human rights record. Instead, he argued, Bakiyev should have been negotiating the rights of Kyrgyz labor migrants working in Russia. According to the Bishkek office of the International Organization for Migration, 400,000-600,000 Kyrgyz are now working in Russia.

    Meanwhile, almost no Kyrgyz politician publicly expresses support for U.S. engagement in Afghanistan. The U.S. government pays $150 million annually for use of the base, while over $850 million has been spent by the U.S. government in Kyrgyzstan for programs supporting democracy since the collapse of the Soviet Union. According to Tekebayev, the price of Afghan heroin is cheaper in Kyrgyzstan than in Tajikistan, the major transit country. "This means that the costs associated with the drug trade are lower in Kyrgyzstan," he said.

    Bakiyev's recent announcement came as a surprise to many in Kyrgyzstan. Yet, some experts still see a possibility for negotiation between Bakiyev and the U.S. "Bakiyev is known for changing his viewpoint abruptly, bargaining for the best deal like at a bazaar," says an employee of an international organization in Bishkek. The parliament is currently revising the president's order on the closure of the U.S. base. Whether Bakiyev will prove willing to continue his bargaining will be clearer in the coming days.

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    Default Re: Analysis: Kyrgyz base a Kremlin test for Obama

    February 4, 2009 -- Updated 0122 GMT (0922 HKT)
    Post-Soviet nations to form military force

    Seven nations agree to form rapid-reaction force

    Russian media say force will fight terrorism, respond to disasters.

    It will be based in Russia under a single command
    .

    Report comes after Kyrgyzstan says it will close U.S. base

    MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) -- A Russian-led bloc of post-Soviet nations has agreed to establish a rapid-reaction military force to combat terrorists and respond to regional emergencies, Russian media reported Wednesday.


    Russian soldiers march during a military ceremony


    The decision came a day after reports that Kyrgyzstan is planning to close a strategically important U.S. military base that Washington uses to transport troops and supplies into Afghanistan.

    On Wednesday, the Collective Security Treaty Organization -- made up of Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan -- decided on the rapid-reaction force at a Kremlin summit, the Russian news agency RIA-Novosti reported.

    The group's security council "spent a long time discussing the central issue of forming collective reaction forces and, generally, of rapid reaction to possible threats," said Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, according to Russian news agency Interfax.


    "Everyone agreed that the formation of joint forces is necessary," he said.

    Officials told Russian media that all the members had signed the agreement, though Uzbekistan submitted a special provision.

    Uzbekistan doesn't mind contributing military units to the rapid-reaction force "but does not consider it necessary for the moment" to attach emergency responders, drug-control f orces and other special services, organization spokesman Vitaly Strugovets told Interfax.

    Russian media reported that the force will be used to fight military aggressors, conduct anti-terror operations, battle regional drug trafficking and respond to natural disasters. The force will be based in Russia under a single command, with member nations contributing military units.

    On Tuesday, Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev announced at a Moscow news conference that "all due procedures" were being initiated to close Manas Air Base, RIA-Novosti reported. The announcement was made after news reports of a multimillion-dollar aid package from Russia to Kyrgyzstan.

    Gen. David Petraeus, who oversees U.S. operations in the Middle East and Central Asia, including Afghanistan, was in Kyrgyzstan last month, partly to lobby the government to allow the United States to keep using the base.

    He said he and Kyrgyz leaders did not discuss "at all" the possible closure of the base and said local officials told him there was "no foundation" for news reports about the issue.

    The United States is planning to send an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan to halt a resurgence of the Taliban. Petraeus described Manas as having "an important role in the deployment of these forces" and in refueling aircraft.

    The relationship between the United States and Kyrgyzstan was damaged when a Kyrgyz citizen was killed by a U.S. airman in December 2006. The airman was transferred out of Kyrgyzstan, and the dead man's family was offered compensation. Petraeus said in January that the investigation was being reopened.

    As he announced the base closure Tuesday, Bakiyev said he was not satisfied with the inquiry into the accident and his government's "inability to provide security to its citizens" was proving a serious concern.

    Medvedev also weighed in on the issue Wednesday, saying the base closure shouldn't hamper anti-terrorism operations, according to Interfax.

    "It would be great if their numbers meant there were fewer terrorists, but such action depends on other things as well," he said.


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    Default Re: Analysis: Kyrgyz base a Kremlin test for Obama

    Moscow, Tehran force the US's hand
    By M K Bhadrakumar

    It may seem there could be nothing in common between the blowing up of a bridge in the Khyber, the usage of an air base nestling in the foothills of the Pamirs and the launch of a 60-pound (37.2 kilogram) satellite into the night sky that will circle the Earth 14 times a day.

    But band them together and they trigger the political and diplomatic equivalent of what is known in the game of chess as zwischenzug, which means an intermediate move that improves a player's position.
    Persians, who invented chess, would have mastery over zwischenzug.

    Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavi said in Tehran on Wednesday, "Iran has no plans to stop its nuclear activity. At its forthcoming meeting, the 'Iran Six' should draw up a logical approach and accept the fact that Iran is a nuclear state."

    The Taliban don't play chess

    It is unlikely the Taliban factored Iran's imminent zwischenzug when they blew up the 30-meter iron bridge in the Khyber Pass 24 kilometers west of Peshawar in northwest Pakistan on Monday, which halted the supplies for North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) troops in Afghanistan. But the disruption of traffic once again exposed the vulnerability of the main NATO supply route and focused attention on Tehran.

    This is forcing NATO into a major policy shift. NATO's top military commander in Afghanistan, General John Craddock, admitted that the alliance would not oppose individual member nations making deals with Iran to supply their forces in Afghanistan. To quote Craddock, a four-star American general who is also NATO's supreme allied commander, "Those would be national decisions. Nations should act in a manner that is consistent with their national interest and with their ability to resupply their forces. I think it is purely up to them."

    Craddock was transferring rapidly to the operational plane what the alliance's secretary general Jaap de Hoop Scheffer had said only a week ago that NATO member countries, including the United States, should engage Iran to combat the Taliban in Afghanistan.

    Scheffer wouldn't have spoken without Washington's nod. Craddock underscored it. NATO is keen to use the new highway built by the Indian government from central Afghanistan to the Iranian border at Zaranj, which would allow access to Iran's deep-sea Persian Gulf port at Chabahar. The road is largely unused.

    The Indians completed work on the highway hardly a fortnight ago. NATO is scrambling. It must somehow reduce dependence on Pakistani supply routes, which are currently used for ferrying about 80% of supplies. The irony cannot be lost on onlookers. NATO seeks an Iranian route when Tehran is demanding a US troop pullout from Afghanistan.

    Last Thursday, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki remarked that Iran had paid attention to the plans of US President Barack Obama's administration to withdraw US troops from Iraq and "we believe this should be extended to Afghanistan as well".

    The irony deepens insofar as a fortnight ago US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in his first congressional testimony in the new administration leveled allegations about increased Iranian "interference" and doublespeak in Afghanistan, and implied that Tehran was fueling the insurgency.

    Russia's zwischenzug

    The heart of the matter is that the US's efforts to open supply routes from the north across the Amu Darya have got caught up in the great game in Central Asia. American spokesmen blithely claimed Russia and the Central Asian states were providing supply routes. But the geopolitics do not bear that out.

    Kyrgyzstan President Kurmanbek Bakiyev dropped a bombshell on Tuesday by demanding the closure of the US military base in Manas, which is used for ferrying supplies for Afghanistan. He said this after talks with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, during which Moscow pledged to Bishkek that it was writing off $180 million debt and would also provide Kyrgyzstan with a $2 billion soft loan and an outright grant of $150 million.

    NATO's envoy to Central Asia, Robert Simmons, rushed to Bishkek in a last-ditch attempt to stall the Kyrgyz move, but only to regret the development and admit that NATO's Afghan operations would be adversely affected. Washington still hopes to salvage the situation, but that involves taking Moscow's help.

    Moscow is willing, as always - provided the US is prepared to shelve its untimely geopolitical agenda to broaden and deepen its (and NATO's) strategic presence in Central Asia on the pretext of developing new supply routes for Afghanistan. Plainly put, Moscow feels irritated about Washington's abrasive diplomacy in Central Asia in recent weeks.

    The US signed an agreement with Kazakhstan, Russia's key ally, offering to procure "a significant part" of its supplies for Afghanistan from that country and in turn is pressuring it to make troop deployments in Afghanistan.

    Conceivably, Moscow (and Beijing) view with disquiet the US move to court their key Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) ally into the Western strategic orbit.

    Conceivably, Moscow's zwischenzug to evict the US military from Kyrgyzstan would enjoy tacit Chinese encouragement as well.

    Nyet to selective engagement
    Washington prefers "selective engagement" without addressing the underlying factors that caused the chill in relations. The Kremlin remains cautiously optimistic that Obama may address relations from a fresh perspective. The mood is reflected in a pithy comment by former Russian president Mikhail Gorbachev that "there are grounds for optimism, so far".

    But an underlying sense of exasperation is visible. As a Moscow commentator put it, the George W Bush era may be over, but the "consequences are still there"; Obama might have new ideas, but the "old wire-pullers" are still there in the establishment in key positions; and, therefore, Obama might need "years rather than months to shape a new foreign policy".

    So, Moscow resorted to zwischenzug. Last Saturday, the influential Moscow paper Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported that Russia proposed to reopen the key Soviet air base of Bombora on the Black Sea coast in Abkhazia. On Tuesday,

    Russia signed an agreement with Belarus setting up an integrated air defense system. On Wednesday, Medvedev used the CSTO forum to reiterate he was open to cooperation with the US in the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan.

    Again, in related comments on Wednesday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said, "We hope that we and the United States will hold special and professional talks on this issue [of transit routes to Afghanistan] in the near future. We will see how effectively we can cooperate ... The US, Central Asia, China - we are all interested in a successful anti-terrorism operation in Afghanistan."

    Karasin assured that the US's eviction from Manas "would not prove an obstruction". He said, "We [Russia] hope that we and the United States will hold special and professional talks on the issue in the near future. We will see how effectively we can cooperate."

    In sum, the ball is in Obama's court. The big question is whether he can bulldoze the hardliners and jettison the heavy baggage of geopolitics that his faltering Afghan war is needlessly carrying.

    Meanwhile, the shadow of US-Russian relations falls on the Hindu Kush. The Russian media reported that a high-level Afghan military delegation is expected in Moscow in the "near future". With a growing possibility that Obama may withdraw support for Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Moscow will be weighing its options.

    The US is perched on a slippery slope in Afghanistan. The Taliban resurgence continues and the security situation is deteriorating, but NATO is unable to increase its force level or evolve an effective strategy. NATO supply lines have come under threat, but alternate routes are yet to be negotiated. The US's rift with the Karzai regime is widening, but a replacement is never easy to be catapulted into power in Kabul. Again, Washington should pressure Islamabad, but the situation in Pakistan is far too fragile to take any greater pressure.

    It is against this complex backdrop that Iran's satellite took off into the star-studded night sky on Monday. Named Hope, its launch has a multiplier effect on geopolitics. Warning bells are ringing in Western capitals that any expectation of Tehran lowering its guard is misplaced. The launch can be seen as a technological feat, which it indeed is, but Hope also gives a hard message about Iran's military capability.

    Experts estimate that the two-stage rocket used for its launch could easily carry a small warhead to a target 2,500 kilometers away. It may not be an inter-continental ballistic missile, but southern Europe comes within its range, as indeed the whole of Israel. Simply put, Iran has in hand a credible deterrent against a US-Israeli military attack.

    White House press secretary Robert Gibbs described the launch as of "acute concern to this administration". German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeir said after his first meeting with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, "We want to be helpful in making sure that the outstretched hand of President Obama is a strong hand." No doubt, these are strong words.

    But an unmatchable German word is more to the point - zugzwang. It literally means "compelled to move". That is, a situation develops on the chessboard when any move a player makes can only weaken his position, but he is nonetheless compelled to make his move.

    It may be far-fetched to say that Moscow and Tehran coordinated their respective zwischenzug, but certainly both keenly await Washington's zugzwang.

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    Default Re: Analysis: Kyrgyz base a Kremlin test for Obama

    Kyrgyz closure of US base 'final'

    Kyrgyzstan says its decision to close a US base that serves as a vital supply route for US and Nato operations in Afghanistan is "final".

    It contradicts US statements that talks are ongoing about the base's future.

    Meanwhile, the US has asked to move supplies through Russia, and Tajikistan has said it will allow the transit of non-military goods into Afghanistan.

    Nato is understood to be increasingly concerned about the security of its supply routes through Pakistan.

    Most of its supplies come through Pakistan's Khyber Pass, which has come under increasing militant attacks.

    Critical timing

    "The decision has been made," said Kyrgyz government spokesman Aibek Sultangaziyev.

    "The US embassy and the [Kyrgyz] foreign ministry are exchanging opinions on this, but there are no discussions on keeping the base."

    Manas, just outside the capital Bishkek, is the only US base in Central Asia and is a vital transit point for Nato and US operations in Afghanistan - an hour-and-a-half's flight away.

    The base is used to refuel Afghan-bound planes, and is the first point of stop for the majority of coalition troops on their way in and out of Afghanistan.

    The closure announcement came after Russia promised Kyrgyzstan $2bn (£1.4bn) in aid. However, Kyrgyzstan says the moves are not linked.

    Kyrgyz MPs will vote on the closure later this month.

    Russia has long opposed the presence of American military forces in Central Asia, says the BBC's Richard Galpin in Moscow.

    Russia says it has agreed to a request from the US to allow the transit of non-military Nato supplies across its soil, but says it is waiting for details of specific shipments before issuing permissions.

    "As soon as that happens we will give the corresponding permission," said Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, quoted by Russian media.

    For the US, the base closure comes at a critical moment, as the new administration of President Barack Obama plans a sharp increase in the number of American troops in Afghanistan.

    For Russia, on the other hand, its closure would be a significant diplomatic victory as it seeks to reassert its influence in all former Soviet republics and beyond, analysts say.

    The Manas base was set up in 2001 to assist the US military operation against al-Qaeda and the Taleban in Afghanistan.

    Under the lease agreement, the US must be given six months' notice to close its operations.

    Meanwhile, diplomatic sources say that the US is close to a deal with Uzbekistan as part of back-up plan.

    The US left its air base there following a dispute over human rights in 2005.



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    Default Re: Analysis: Kyrgyz base a Kremlin test for Obama

    US alone can’t solve Mideast tangle

    Ghazanfar Ali Khan
    Arab News


    RIYADH: Turkish President Abdullah Gul said yesterday that Arab and Muslim countries should not depend on the United States alone for peace in the Middle East. He stressed that Ankara would continue its efforts to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, saying it would be its greatest contribution to world peace.


    “The bloodbath in the Palestinian territories must stop and Palestinian ranks should be united. It is the duty of everybody. We should not leave the solution in the hands of the new American administration alone but help it to establish peace in the region,” the president said while speaking to reporters in Riyadh.

    He said Turkey, both as member of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and NATO, would continue to play the role of a possible bridge between the Muslim world and the West.

    “Turkey has been in a pivotal geopolitical position and recent months have only highlighted the unique nature of Turkey’s dual role,” said Gul, when asked whether his country’s bid for EU membership would be hampered because of its intense involvement in the affairs of the Middle East and Islamic world in general.

    Answering a question on the effect of the Gaza onslaught on Turkish-Israeli relations, Gul said: “Our relations with Israel must be utilized for stability in the region. Had it not been the Gaza blitzkrieg we could have made a major breakthrough in Syrian-Israeli peace negotiations.”

    Gul, who arrived in Jeddah later as part of his four-day official visit, said the Palestinian issue was at the core of his meetings with Saudi officials. Overcoming the division and establishing national unity in Palestine would be given top priority, he said while expressing Turkey’s full support for the Arab peace initiative, which was originally proposed by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah.

    “We hope Israel would also consider this initiative for lasting peace,” he added.

    The Arab peace initiative calls for Israel’s return to the 1967 borders, a “just solution” to the problem of Palestinian refugees and the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. In return Arab states would consider the conflict over and normalize relations with Israel.

    Gul said he appreciated King Abdullah’s efforts to reconcile Palestinian rivals Fatah and Hamas by hosting a meeting in Makkah in 2007.

    He hoped that two Palestinian groups could restart negotiations to form a national unity government. He called on all related parties to take action to revive the Arab plan.

    Gul, who will be meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ankara early next week, said that Turkey would support every country, every faction and every individual who seeks peace.

    Arab News asked him whether Turkey’s comments in support of Hamas would jeopardize the country’s EU membership bid.

    “Turkey’s relations with the EU is a different subject,” he said, pointing out that negotiations with the EU continue.

    He was speaking on the sidelines of a reception hosted by Turkish Ambassador Naci Koru at the Turkish Embassy on Wednesday night. The reception followed a lavish dinner attended by about 200 members of the Turkish community, Saudi officials and guests, including Gul’s wife Hayrunnisa. Both Gul and his wife cut a cake while the president received several plaques and trophies, including a plaque from Yuksel Insat Company. Yuksel, which has a massive presence in Saudi Arabia, is currently building three dams in the Kingdom.

    “Turkey supports the entire Palestinian nation and does not specifically support one group over the other,” said the Turkish leader.

    Gul, who became the first-ever foreign Muslim leader to address the Saudi Shoura Council, said Wednesday that relations with Saudi Arabia had been very cordial and were improving in all areas. In the interview, Gul said: “The growing cooperation between the two leading countries of the Muslim world — Saudi Arabia and Turkey — would contribute to regional peace.”

    He said that the two countries signed several agreements, including the avoidance of double taxation, maritime transport and culture.

    He reaffirmed Turkey’s desire to increase the volume of investment in the Kingdom, a country that is least affected by the global financial crisis.

    Gul’s entourage included Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul, Minister of Transport Binali Yildirim, Agriculture and Rural Affairs Minister Mehdi Eker and State Minister for Foreign Trade Kursat Tuzmen.

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    Default Re: Analysis: Kyrgyz base a Kremlin test for Obama

    FEBRUARY 5, 2009
    Moscow Moves to Counter U.S. Power in Central Asia


    By ALAN CULLISON and YOCHI J. DREAZEN

    MOSCOW -- Russia is reasserting its role in Central Asia with a Kremlin push to eject the U.S. from a vital air base and a Moscow-led pact to form an international military force to rival NATO -- two moves that potentially complicate the new U.S. war strategy in Afghanistan.


    On Wednesday, Russia announced a financial rescue fund for a group of ex-Soviet allies and won their agreement to form a military rapid reaction force in the region that it said would match North Atlantic Treaty Organization standards. That came a day after Kyrgyzstan announced, at Russian urging, that it planned to evict the U.S. from the base it has used to ferry large numbers of American troops into Afghanistan. Russia said the base may house part of the planned new force instead.

    The steps mark Russia's most aggressive push yet to counter a U.S. military presence in the region that it has long resented. They pose a challenge for the administration of President Barack Obama, which sees Afghanistan as its top foreign-policy priority and is preparing to double the size of the American military presence there.

    Kyrgyzstan said the U.S. must leave the Manas Air Base, which American forces use to send troops and equipment to Afghanistan.

    The developments also underscore the difficulties for Mr. Obama as he seeks to build a closer relationship with Moscow. Russia is signaling that it will be a tough defender of its interests, especially in its traditional backyard of the former Soviet Union. Though its huge cash reserves are rapidly draining because of falling oil prices, the greater needs of its poorer neighbors are still giving it an opening.

    "Russia would like to reassert itself in the region, and it is using the financial crisis as an opportunity," said Nikolai Zlobin, senior fellow at the World Security Institute, a Washington think tank.

    Russian paratroopers are to form the core of the new military force, which is planned to be about 10,000 men. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said the force will be ready "to rebuff military aggression," fight terrorism, drug trafficking and organized crime, and handle natural and technological disasters.

    "These are going to be quite formidable units," Mr. Medvedev said. "According to their combat potential, they must be no weaker than similar forces of the North Atlantic alliance."

    When Kyrgyzstan said Tuesday that it intended to shut the base to U.S. troops, Moscow announced that it was extending the country $2 billion in loans plus $150 million in financial aid. That's a tidal wave of cash for Kyrgyzstan, whose budget is barely more than $1 billion, and whose populace has been harried by electric shortages, rising food prices and rampant unemployment.

    The Kremlin also is discussing aid packages to Armenia and Belarus, other former satellites hit hard by the financial crisis.

    The seriousness of the Kyrygz push to close the Manas air base stunned Pentagon officials, who noted Bishkek had made similar threats before. "Frankly, we thought it was a negotiating tactic, and we were ready to call their bluff," said a military official. "But it's becoming clearer that, no kidding, they want us out."

    U.S. officials now say they expect the Kyrgyz parliament to formally approve ending the deal this weekend, which would give the U.S. six months to vacate under the countries' agreement.

    The loss of the Manas base would be a major blow to the escalating U.S. war effort in Afghanistan. In 2008, 170,000 American personnel passed through Manas on their way in or out of Afghanistan, along with 5,000 tons of equipment.

    "We have contingencies, and it's not fatal, but there's no way around the fact that this would be a real blow," said a senior Pentagon official. "It could also leave us more dependent on Russia, which is not a place we'd like to be."

    The main U.S. supply route into Afghanistan runs through Pakistan, and militants have mounted a wave of attacks recently designed to prevent goods from entering Afghanistan. This week, militants demolished a key bridge on the route, forcing the U.S. to temporarily halt all shipments through Pakistan.

    With Pakistan increasingly tenuous, U.S. officials have had to turn to Russia for help. The U.S. already ships large quantities of fuel through Russia, and senior military officials hope to start sending more supplies.

    The Kremlin has long criticized the U.S. for maintaining bases in Central Asia, saying Washington initially promised a temporary move after the terrorist attacks of 2001.

    On Wednesday Russia stressed that it supports the U.S.-led effort in Afghanistan, but that Washington needs to work more closely with Moscow and Central Asian countries.

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    Default Re: Analysis: Kyrgyz base a Kremlin test for Obama

    Geopolitical Diary: Hard Choices for the Obama Team

    February 6, 2009 | 0300 GMT



    A global security conference opens in Munich on Friday. In attendance will be key military and diplomatic personnel from every country in the world that has significant geopolitical weight (and quite a few more that do not).

    In terms of opportunities for leaders to meet and speak candidly to one another, there are no serious venues that compare to the size and scope of the Munich Conference. NATO summits, for instance, bring together the allies, but relegate would-be members and Russia to the back rows — and there is not an Asian in sight. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum tosses all of the Pacific Rim leaders into one room, but doesn’t involve the Europeans. The Middle East only really has the Arab League, and oftentimes that doesn’t even attract all the Arab leadership.

    For the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama, the conference means one thing: crunch time. Since taking the reins on Jan. 20, the Obama team has felt like it was still in transition. This is hardly intended as a criticism, but is simply a statement of fact: thus far, the world really does not yet have a feel for what the Obama administration’s foreign policy will look like. At Munich, however, the Obama administration will have no choice but to start making hard choices and taking stances. Effective Friday, the transition is over.

    Interestingly, the U.S. secretaries of defense and state will not be in attendance in Munich. Instead, U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden will be representing the United States — raising the possibility that he might have the kind of influence in the Obama administration as former Vice President Dick Cheney had in the Bush administration.

    Biden will have a full plate. The French are planning on formally re-entering NATO, the Germans are looking for more responsibility for European security policy, the American effort in Afghanistan could use more international help, and there is always the chance of running into the Iranians and having an impromptu meeting about the future of Iraq.

    But the man that Biden will not be able to avoid will be Sergei Ivanov, the Russian deputy prime minister and one of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s most reliable allies.

    The Obama team has inherited from the Bush and Clinton administrations a policy of broad and deep confrontation with Russia. This began with the rapid expansion of NATO followed by deep economic and military penetration into Central Asia, and most recently has involved the development of ballistic missile defense (BMD) systems in Central Europe.

    The Obama administration is about to enter this confrontation head-first. Obama has pledged to focus U.S. military power on the war in Afghanistan — but expanding that war without becoming completely beholden to Pakistani interests means finding a way to supply Western forces in Afghanistan without transiting Pakistani territory. A few supplies might get shipped via Iran, but the bulk will need to come in from the north. That means transiting Central Asia — and Russia is undoubtedly the premier power in that neighborhood. Simply put, Obama’s Afghanistan policy cannot succeed unless the Russians agree to allow supplies through. And the Russians will have a price for that.

    Ivanov has spent much of the past few days outlining precisely what that price will entail: limitations on BMD, a halt to NATO expansion, reduced American influence in the Caucasus and Central Asia, and a broad renegotiation of the series of treaties that ended the Cold War — treaties that were good for the Soviet Union in 1992, but are terrible for the Russians in 2009. It is a lengthy list of non-trivial issues, and not one that any American representative will be happy to receive, negotiate on or agree to. But that is Biden’s bind.

    At base, Ivanov will present Biden and Obama with a choice: appease Russia or lose in Afghanistan.

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    Default Re: Analysis: Kyrgyz base a Kremlin test for Obama

    U.S. Presses Europe for Aid in Afghanistan Amid Political Chill With Russia

    FEBRUARY 5, 2009, 10:53 P.M. ET
    By YOCHI J. DREAZEN in Munich and JAY SOLOMON in Washington

    A security conference opening in Munich on Friday will be an early test of whether President Barack Obama's popularity in Europe will mean greater political support for U.S. efforts in Afghanistan, as the administration seeks to deal with the possible loss of an air base used to support the war there.

    U.S. relations with Russia are likely to weigh heavily on the conference. Russia in recent days said it plans to create a military force designed to rival the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and pushed for the eviction of the U.S. from Kyrgyzstan's Manas air base, which is used to supply U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan.

    While the loss of the base would be a significant blow to the war effort, U.S. officials said Thursday the U.S. could expand use of facilities in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates if necessary. The officials said Washington is negotiating with Kyrgyzstan over the use of the base.

    Vice President Joe Biden is leading the American delegation to the conference, which begins Friday. The U.S. is also sending Mr. Obama's national-security adviser, retired Gen. James Jones, and Gen. David Petraeus, who runs the military's Central Command and oversees the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    The U.S. generally sends its secretary of defense to the conference, where military and security issues take center stage. Defense Secretary Robert Gates isn't attending this year, and White House officials said the makeup of the delegation is meant to signal that Mr. Obama takes European concerns seriously and will work to move past the acrimony that sometimes clouded interactions during the George W. Bush years.

    At the same time, a senior U.S. official said, Mr. Biden plans to press allies to expand assistance to Afghanistan, support U.S.-led peace efforts in the Mideast, and step up pressure on Iran to abandon its nuclear program.

    "Biden's going to push these leaders to do more than they have in the past," the official said. "It's not just about us moving closer to them; they need to step up to the plate as well."

    Afghanistan is at the head of the White House's wish list. The U.S., which is planning to double the size of its military presence there, wants European governments to contribute more money and military personnel to the fight. The administration is also pressing allies with forces in Afghanistan to lift conditions that prevent many of their troops from engaging in combat.

    European leaders rebuffed similar requests from the Bush administration, and it's far from clear that Mr. Obama will be able to win them over. Mr. Obama has moved closer to European positions on issues such as torture and global warming, but European officials have voiced skepticism about the war in Afghanistan.

    "There's a belief that with Bush gone, everything will be smooth sailing," said Charles Kupchan, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. "But some of the distance between the U.S. and Europe is about concrete differences of interests and perspective."

    The annual Munich Conference on Security Policy is a three-day event that draws hundreds of political leaders, military officers and academics. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Afghan President Hamid Karzai are among those scheduled to attend.

    Iran has said it will send a delegation led by Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani. Mr. Obama has called for greater diplomatic engagement with Iran and held open the prospect of direct talks, a departure from Mr. Bush's efforts to isolate the country, but no direct talks are scheduled in Munich.

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Washington is working to resolve the threatened loss of the Manas air base.

    The Pentagon already uses an air base in Qatar, as well as air and port facilities in the U.A.E., to help support forces i

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    Default Re: Analysis: Kyrgyz base a Kremlin test for Obama

    Analysis: Moscow uses base as tool in negotiation

    By ANNE GEARAN and ROBERT BURNS
    The Associated Press
    Friday, February 6, 2009; 11:04 AM

    WASHINGTON -- A standoff over an obscure air base in a Central Asian country few Americans could find on a map is an opening salvo in a new kind of Cold War with Russia.

    The prize is not military mastery or the global supremacy of ideas, but the defensive protection of resources and security. Each of the 20th century nuclear superpowers wants say-so over the decisions the other has reserved the right to make, and with a new U.S. administration signaling possible compromise with Russia on a missile-basing plan detested by Russia, Moscow is using U.S. dependence on the base for the Afghan war to drive a hard bargain.

    "I think that the principal motivation is to reassert Russian influence and get visible U.S. presence out of former Soviet republics," said retired Adm. William J. Fallon, who oversaw the Afghan and Iraq war as head of U.S. Central Command until last year.

    Over the last week, Russian officials have issued new warnings against the U.S. medium-range missile system and promised billions to a former client state, Kyrgyzstan, to persuade its strongman leader to evict the U.S. military from its main air hub in the region.

    Russia has long been irritated by the U.S. military presence in what it considers its natural areas of influence in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, a strategically located region straddling Europe and close to volatile nations like Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    The Bush administration's plan to base U.S. missiles and receptors at Russia's doorstep in Poland and the Czech Republic is the main irritant in play between Russia and the United States, but it is a symptom of the deeper contest for influence in central and eastern Europe and in Central Asia.

    For Russia the contest is about protecting itself in its own neighborhood. For the United States, it's about ensuring that terrorism and extremism aren't exported from that neighborhood to threaten the United States or its allies.

    Both are legitimate goals, and they are not necessarily at odds if the Obama administration addresses Russian gripes and anxieties and if Russia trusts U.S. motives.

    "The Russian government appears eager not to close any doors with the Obama administration and to explore opportunities for cooperation," said longtime Russia analyst Dimitri Simes of the Nixon Center in Washington. "But there seems to be a fear, at the same time, that Russia may be taken for a ride again, meaning that the United States would pocket Russian concessions without offering much in return."

    What Moscow is telling the new kids on the block, Simes said, is that it is ready to do business "but wants a quid pro quo."

    The Kremlin announced Friday that it would begin allowing U.S. supplies for Afghanistan to cross its territory to avoid Pakistan where supply lines are increasingly threatened by militant attacks. But Russia stressed that only non-lethal U.S. supplies would be permitted across its territory _ which would still pose problems for the transit of U.S. weapons and other materiel.

    The Obama administration, just more than two weeks in power, has not said much about the future of U.S. relations with its old Cold War adversary. Vice President Joe Biden is expected to confront Russian grievances and expectations during a European security conference this weekend.

    The Munich Security Conference gathers a dozen world leaders and 50 top diplomats and defense officials and comes amid high expectations that it could also presage a thaw in relations between Washington and Moscow.

    Word that Russia had leaned hard on Kyrgyzstan and dangled new sweeteners a few days before the session is probably not a coincidence, analysts said, nor were double-edged remarks from Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

    Medvedev said Wednesday that Russia and its ex-Soviet allies wanted to cooperate with the United States on stabilizing Afghanistan but he appeared to link any help to changes in Western policy.

    These include a halt to NATO enlargement in Europe and the cancellation of plans for the U.S. missile-defense system championed by former President George W. Bush. Obama could walk away from the plan, but for now he is keeping it as an option.

    Russia also sought to strengthen its security alliance with six ex-Soviet nations Wednesday by forming a joint rapid reaction force in a continuing effort to curb U.S. influence in energy-rich Central Asia.

    Kyrgyzstan, meanwhile, which had appeared to be looking for the best deal it could make with the U.S., said Friday it would not reverse its decision to close the Manas base. The United States had been preparing a new offer that would raise its rent payments and other economic help.

    American officials acknowledge in private that they mishandled a number of incidents at the Manas base in recent years. The first was the 2006 fatal shooting by a U.S. serviceman of a local civilian driver at an entrance to the air base; the U.S. investigation dragged on and Washington would not let the Kyrgyz prosecute the American.

    The same year, a U.S. Air Force KC-135 refueling plane collided on the runway at Manas with a Tu-154 aircraft carrying a senior Kyrgyz government official, slicing off a portion of the civilian plane's wing. The Americans blamed the local airport control tower; Kyrgyz authorities said the U.S. pilot was to blame.

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    Default Re: Analysis: Kyrgyz base a Kremlin test for Obama

    MOSCOW (AP) - Russia's foreign minister says Moscow will begin allowing U.S. military supplies for Afghanistan to cross its territory.

    Sergey Lavrov says the U.S. administration approached the Kremlin several days ago asking for permission.

    He said in remarks broadcast by Vesti 24 television Friday that Russia has agreed. He said Moscow is now waiting for the U.S. to provide specific details of the shipments and will issue relevant permissions after getting them.

    Kyrgyzstan this week decided to close a key U.S. base that supports operations in Afghanistan. It denied it acted after receiving $2 billion in Russian loans.

    There are also concerns about the safety of overland supply routes from Pakistan.

    2009-02-06 09:35:37 GMT

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    Default Re: Analysis: Kyrgyz base a Kremlin test for Obama


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    Nikita Khrushchev: "We will bury you"
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    “You Americans are so gullible.
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    Default Re: Analysis: Kyrgyz base a Kremlin test for Obama

    Russia rattles sabres in Obama’s direction

    By Quentin Peel
    Financial Times
    Published: February 6 2009

    Russia may face a grim economic downturn but one would scarcely think so to judge by the sound of sabre-rattling emerging from the Kremlin. Unless, of course, it is intended as a domestic distraction from the gathering gloom.

    The double-act of Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin has come up with a series of security initiatives that seem designed to provoke, or at least irritate, the new administration in Washington. Without even waiting to hear how President Barack Obama intends to conduct his relations with Moscow – something that Joe Biden, his vice-president, may well address on Saturday at the annual Munich Security Conference – the Russian leaders have thrown down the gauntlet.

    First, they leaked details of naval and air bases to be established on the shores of the Black Sea in the breakaway Georgian province of Abkhazia, whose independence is recognised by Moscow alone. Then they signed an air defence treaty with the former Soviet republic of Belarus, apparently paving the way for an anti-missile defence system to counter one planned by the previous US administration across the border in Poland. Moscow appears to have persuaded the Central Asian republic of Kyrgyzstan to oust the US from its air base at Manas, outside Bishkek, in exchange for $2bn (€1.6bn, £1.4bn) in loans, and $150m in financial aid.
    Russia and the former Soviet republics of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – the so-called Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) – have agreed to form a “rapid reaction force” which is intended to be just as good as the equivalent force operated by the Nato alliance, according to President Medvedev.

    Outside analysts are sceptical whether any of these moves amounts to a particularly effective military gesture but they are certainly intended to suggest that Russia is not rushing to embrace the new US administration.

    The air defence deal with Belarus is on a par with Mr Medvedev’s announcement, on the day Mr Obama was elected, that Russian Iskander missiles would be sited in the Kaliningrad enclave to counter the US missile defence system. It appears to negate a subsequent conciliatory gesture from Moscow, saying those missiles would not be deployed if the US also held back.

    As for the Abkhaz naval base, it may be intended as an insurance policy for the day when, or if, Russia is forced to vacate the existing base for its Black Sea fleet at Sevastopol in the Crimea, which is leased from Ukraine until 2017. Oksana Antonenko, senior fellow for Russia and Eurasia at the International Institute of Strategic Studies in London, believes all the actions are part of a pattern, intended to provoke a US reaction, and give Russia more bargaining chips in negotiating a new relationship with Washington. “In Russia there has never been any euphoria about Obama as there has been in the rest of Europe,” she says. “Russia is still very mistrustful of the US, and Putin profoundly so.

    “But there is an overwhelming view in Moscow now that the Americans are in decline and will be forced to negotiate with Russia from a position of weakness. They seem to expect all the concessions to come from Obama. It is very unrealistic.”

    The response from Washington has been muted. Russia is simply not a high priority for the new president. Western analysts believe Russia’s production of Iskander missiles is not enough to base any significant numbers in Belarus as well as on its southern borders. As for the rapid reaction force, it is regarded with wry amusement in Brussels. None of Russia’s would-be allies wants to be used as a pawn in some muscle-flexing contest with Washington. Even Abkhazia is unhappy about becoming a vast military base for its neighbour.

    So perhaps the entire operation is for domestic purposes. That way it might at least make sense.

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    Nikita Khrushchev: "We will bury you"
    "Your grandchildren will live under communism."
    “You Americans are so gullible.
    No, you won’t accept
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    outright, but we’ll keep feeding you small doses of
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    Default Re: Analysis: Kyrgyz base a Kremlin test for Obama

    Monday, February 09, 2009
    Karzai for reconciliation with moderate Taliban

    * Afghan president pledges better ties with Pakistan


    MUNICH: Afghan President Hamid Karzai has invited moderate Taliban to participate in fall elections, saying they should be integrated back into Afghan society.

    “We will invite all of those Taliban who are not part of Al Qaeda, who are not part of terrorist networks, who want to return to their country, who want to live by the constitution of Afghanistan, who want to have a normal life, to come back to their country,” Karzai said while addressing a gathering of world leaders and top security officials.

    NATO nations and their partners fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan have had mixed reactions to Karzai’s proposals to talk to the insurgents, with many saying they reject talks with militants who have blood on their hands. “I would request the international community to back us in this, fully, and be of one view on this, not of divided views on this,” Karzai added.

    Better ties: The Afghan president said cross-border terrorism was one of the greatest threats confronting Afghanistan and ties with Pakistan should be improved to combat the problem. He praised the new US administration’s more regional approach to fighting terror and welcomed President Barack Obama’s appointment of Richard Holbrooke as a special representative to Pakistan and Afghanistan. “Security can ... not come to Afghanistan, or to the region, or to the international community without better coordination with our neighbours,” he added.

    “Our neighbours are suffering with us,” Karzai said, citing the November terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, as well as the violence in Pakistan. But, he said Afghanistan’s diplomatic ties with its neighbours are getting stronger. “There is greater understanding with Afghanistan and its neighbours in the region,” he said, a message reinforced by Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who spoke of a “new era of understanding and cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan”.

    Marine Corps General James Jones, Obama’s national security adviser, said that was news he was “very happy” to hear, adding that working relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan have to be effective to find a final solution.

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    Nikita Khrushchev: "We will bury you"
    "Your grandchildren will live under communism."
    “You Americans are so gullible.
    No, you won’t accept
    To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 15 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
    outright, but we’ll keep feeding you small doses of
    To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 15 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
    until you’ll finally wake up and find you already have communism.

    To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 15 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
    ."
    We’ll so weaken your
    To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 15 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
    until you’ll
    To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 15 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
    like overripe fruit into our hands."



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