MOSCOW, September 6 (RIA Novosti) - The United States may soon transfer a military base from Uzbekistan to Turkmenistan. Experts interviewed by two
popular Russian dailies said that Russia could both benefit and suffer from this move.
According to Novye Izvestia and Nezavisimaya Gazeta, observers said that the United States' military presence in Turkmenistan was part of
preparations to attack Iran. Once in Turkmenistan, the U.S. will close the ring around Iran, as it already has bases in all the other countries
bordering on Iran.
However, the U.S. military base in Turkmenistan will also affect Russia's interests, the chairman of Russia's Islamic Committee, Geidar Dzhemal,
said. Firstly, nearly all the Central Asian republics will find themselves under U.S. control. Secondly, Russia will lose Iran, its ally in the
"A U.S. strike at Iran is inevitable, and it is being planned for the near future," Dzhemal told Novye Izvestia. This will badly affect Russia in
economic terms too, as a U.S. attack on Iran will damage the entire region's infrastructure, and Russia will have to deal with an influx of refugees.
Moreover, all the major oil reserves that Iran exports to Europe will be seized by the United States.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta quoted Colonel Anatoly Tsyganok, the head of Russia's Center for Military Forecasting, as saying that Uzbek President Islam
Karimov could even be ready to pay the United States $100-300 million to withdraw its troops from the Khanabad air base in the country immediately.
The expert said: "The Shanghai Cooperation Organization [Russia, China, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan] might take on the
Khanabad air base after the U.S. leaves, and deploy its own joint air group under the pretext of anti-terrorist efforts in Central Asia."
Tsyganok also said that Uzbekistan did not have the money for the purpose. Therefore, only SCO members, most likely Russia and China, would be able to
sponsor the project. Tsyganok said Moscow would hardly miss the chance to seize the Uzbek air base ahead of other countries.