NATO will unlikely re-deploy forces from Kyrgyzstan to Uzbekistan

NATO will unlikely re-deploy forces from Kyrgyzstan to Uzbekistan

Azerbaijan, Baku, Feb. 18 / Trend , V.Zhavoronkova/

NATO troops hardly will return to the Uzbek Karshi-Khanabad military base, although its value is increased for the alliance after the Kyrgyz president's decree to close Manas air base which supported anti-terrorism operations in Afghanistan.

"At present Uzbekistan is hardly prepared to grant its territory for the U.S. forces," Independent Uzbek Political Scientist Sergey Yezhkov told Trend in a telephone conversation from Tashkent.

U.S. Armed Forces Central Headquarters Commander and General David Petraeus arrived in Uzbekistan on Feb. 17. According to official data, his visit aims to discuss regional security, problems to restore peace in Afghanistan, transit of U.S. nonmilitary cargos to Afghanistan through Uzbekistan.

Analysts believe that U.S. examines Uzbekistan as the most probable dislocation place for the anti-terrorism coalition in the case of closing Manas base in Kyrgyzstan - which is NATO's last valuable air base in the Central Asia.

It can be Karshi-Khanabad base which belongs to U.S. after the September 11 developments for air support to operations in Afghanistan, delivery of food and military property to the U.S. troops.

However, after U.S.'s complaint to Uzbekistan due to the Uzbek government's cruelly dispersing demonstrations in Andidjan in 2005, NATO troops were expelled from the base.

Petraues's visit to Uzbekistan demonstrates importance of this country for U.S. in the current situation, Yezhkov said.

A decision to close the U.S. Manas base in Kyrgyzstan is not final, because the Kyrgyz parliament has not confirmed President Bakiyev's decree.

U.S. is holding negotiations with Bishkek and Moscow to continue activity of Manas base, Russian Expert on CIS countries Stanislav Pritchin said.

"Petraeus's visit to Tashkent is a key version to secure oneself if the negotiations on Manas fail, because this base is too important for U.S.," Pritchin told Trend from Moscow.

Therefore Petraeus's visit to Tashkent can be considered as a discussion for resumption the base in Karshi-Khanabad.

"The U.S. needs to expand military cooperation with Uzbekistan as never before," Uzbekistan domestic policy expert Nabizhon Ikramhozhaev said to Trend .

The bases on the territory of Central Asia is important for the U.S., because of the region's proximity to Afghanistan, where NATO forces conducted the Enduring Freedom military operation. For example, there are over thousand of U.S. troops at the closing Manas base, as well as military transport aircrafts.

However, there is no likelihood that U.S. troops did return to Uzbekistan, because the relations between the two countries did not develop after the events in Andidzhan, Ezhkov believes.

"Petraeus's visit is due to the fact that the U.S. is interested in at least partial restoration of relations in political, technical and military-technical spheres," Ezhkov said.

U.S. will not have bases in Karshi-Khanabad, because its opening could lead to political resonance in America, International Crisis Group analyst Paul Quinn-Judge said.

"There will be negative attitude of the Americans toward opening of the base in Uzbekistan due to Uzbekistan's bad reputation in human rights," Quinn-Judge added.

U.S. President Barack Obama is committed to protecting human rights and therefore he will have to answer to many questions, if there will be trusty relationships with the President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov, who is famous as a non-democratic president.

E.Ostapenko and T.Jukov (Tashkent) contributed in the article.

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