U.S. to increase military aid to Tajikistan in exchange for bases

Azerbaijan, Baku, Aug. 1 / Trend E. Kosolapova /

Increased U.S. military aid to Tajikistan is aimed at the deployment of U.S. military facilities in this Central Asian country, a Russian expert on Central Asia, Alexander Knyazev, believes.

"As far as I know, deployment of several U.S. military facilities on the territory of Tajikistan after the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan is supposed. This issue is now under negotiation, and the alleged military aid is a form of payment for placement of bases. Americans thus intend to persuade Tajikistan to closer cooperation, including with a view to the deployment of military facilities," a coordinator of the regional programs of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences Knyazev told Trend on Wednesday.

In his opinion, due to uncertainty about the functioning of the U.S. military base in the Kyrgyz Manas airport after 2014, the U.S. must prepare alternative sites. And such sites may well be a Tajik airport Aini, or the airport in Dushanbe if reconstructed.

Earlier, U.S. Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia Robert Blake said that the Obama administration asked Congress for increased military aid to Tajikistan from $800,000 that were allocated for this purpose in the 2012 fiscal year, to $1.5 million in 2013 fiscal year. At the same time, military aid to other countries of Central Asia will remain the same, Asia-Plus reported with reference to the Silk Road news line.

Knyazev said additional evidence that the U.S. is interested in the new military facilities in Central Asia is planned routes of withdrawal from Afghanistan through the territory of these republics.

"All of these routes run in close proximity to the Chinese border, contrary to usual logic, i.e. they are more expensive, more complicated. But these routes have the facilities of interest to Americans in terms of deployment of its military architecture ...," Knyazev said.

At the same time, in his opinion, the U.S. does not consider Tajikistan as a key partner in the region, and only prepare it as a spare area in the event of a dispute with the leadership of other countries in Central Asia.

"The key country for the Americans in the region is Uzbekistan. But the Uzbek government does not always behave exactly. A precedent took place in 2006 when the American base had been expelled from Uzbekistan, from a military base in Khanabad. In addition, given the age of the current president the current power in Uzbekistan is not very stable, and it is not clear what the policy of his successors will be," Knyazev said.

In general, according to the Russian expert, the U.S. interest in Tajikistan is due to the greater stability of this country in comparison with neighboring countries, and greater reliability as a partner.

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