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BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan — The first high-level customers to arrive at this stop on the Silk Road in July were two of Vladimir V. Putin’s confidants. Got some land for stationing Russian troops — say, something with a nice long runway? Soon after, a senior American diplomat dropped by. Can we put the final touches on that deal to keep our own military base here? (Oh, and by the way, anything else we can do for
ON THE GROUND A KC-135 tanker plane at Manas Transit Center, once called a “base.”
Kyrgyzstan, a mountainous nation in Central Asia that has long been a contender for the title of most obscure former Soviet republic, has suddenly become prime real estate, like a once-homely neighborhood that all the A-listers now covet.
Its unexpected emergence onto the international stage says much about how the war in nearby Afghanistan, the struggle for political influence in the former Soviet Union, and the competition to control Central Asia’s bountiful oil and gas reserves are reshaping priorities of the world’s military and economic titans.
The other major player in Central Asia is China, which is also wary of the spread of Muslim fundamentalism. The Chinese concerns were underscored in recent weeks by the uprising by Uighurs, a Muslim ethnic group, in the Chinese region that borders Central Asia. Chinese companies are also investing billions of dollars in Central Asia.
“Everyone, all these powers, have a vital interest in this region,” said Andrei V. Fedorov, an analyst at the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy in Moscow. “It is not just economic. It is also stability. If something goes wrong in Central Asia, it will hit everyone around — Pakistan, Afghanistan, China — and will have great repercussions.”
President Obama has put securing Afghanistan near the top of his foreign policy agenda, but "victory" in the war-torn country isn't necessarily the United States' goal, he said Thursday in a TV interview.
"I'm always worried about using the word 'victory,' because, you know, it invokes this notion of Emperor Hirohito coming down and signing a surrender to MacArthur," Obama told ABC News.
Undoubtedly Central Asia’s strategic importance in international affairs
is growing. The rivalries among Russia, China, United States, Iran, India,
and Pakistan not to mention the ever-changing pattern of relations among
local states (five former Soviet republics and Afghanistan) make the region’s
importance obviously clear. Central Asia's strategic importance for Washington, Moscow, and Beijing varies with each nation’s perception of its strategic interests.
Washington focuses primarily on Central Asia as an important theater in the war on terrorism. Additionally, it is viewed as a theater where America might counter a revived Russia or China, or a place to blunt any extension of Iranian influence. Moscow and Beijing view the region as a vital locale for defending critical domestic interests.
Originally posted by mmiichael
As we're discussing things going on in the real world, I'd say it's a bit simplistic to reduce things to country rivalries lie the US, Russia, China, etc.
July 27, 2009
DUSHANBE -- U.S. Ambassador to Tajikistan Tracey Ann Jacobson denied that Washington is involved in a new "Great Game" in Central Asia with Russia or China, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.
Jacobson, who finishes her three years as ambassador in Dushanbe this month, told RFE/RL that she has read in the media about this "Great Game idea," but said "we are not playing any kind of game."