Central Asia remains important for U.S. after NATO withdraws from Afghanistan

Azerbaijan, Baku, May 14 / Trend V. Zhavoronkova/

The Central Asian region will remain important for the U.S. even after the NATO forces withdraw from Afghanistan in 2014, German expert on Central Asia Michael Laubsch believes.

The United States does not seek a permanent military base in Afghanistan, the White House has said, strongly refuting the claims made in this regard by Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

"The United States does not seek permanent military bases in Afghanistan, and any US presence after 2014 would only be at the invitation of Afghanistan's government and aimed at training the country's forces and targeting the remnants of al Qaeda," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said last week.

Laubsch believes, that NATO countries, that hold antiterrorist operation in Afghanistan will keep their presence both in Afghanistan and Central Asia.

"In my view, the US will definitely leave Afghanistan next year, though I am quite sure that together with other ISAF countries like Germany, a smaller presence in the country is still needed and will also be granted by the countries; Germany already announced that they will have a military presence in the country after 2014," head of the German non-governmental organization ETG (Eurasian Transition Group) Laubsch told Trend on Tuesday.

Nevertheless, Laubsch said, it is also obvious that the US see relevance for the whole Central Asian region.

"They know that without any security cooperation in the region, the danger of a kind of "terror migration" to the five Central Asian states could be possible", expert said.

Therefore, according to Laubsch, they will have negotiations with Bishkek, Tashkent and, to a lower extend, with Dushanbe on security cooperation.

"Of course it is the question how the Kremlin will react on this," expert added.

Besides Afghanistan's issue, one should also not forget the geostrategic impact of the Central Asia concerning Iran, he added.

Although the last negotiations in Almaty did not bring any quality progress, the negotiations have been paused until the Presidential elections later this year and it is not clear yet, how the nuclear program in Tehran will develop under a new President there, Laubsch said.

"Therefore the US also has an interest for the future to have a military presence in the Central Asian region," he added.

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