Posted by Curt on 30 July, 2005 at 10:25 am. Be the first to comment!


Looks like we have been kicked out of Uzbekistan:

The Uzbek Government formally evicted the US from the Karshi-Khanabad airbase it has been using since shortly after 9/11,yesterday. Tensions have been increasing between the two countries since the US put pressure on the Central Asian country to allow an international investigation following a government slaughter of protesting civilians in May:

Uzbekistan formally evicted the United States yesterday from a military base that has served as a hub for combat and humanitarian missions to Afghanistan since shortly after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Pentagon and State Department officials said yesterday.

In a highly unusual move, the notice of eviction from Karshi-Khanabad air base, known as K2, was delivered by a courier from the Uzbek Foreign Ministry to the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent, said a senior U.S. administration official involved in Central Asia policy. The message did not give a reason. Uzbekistan will give the United States 180 days to move aircraft, personnel and equipment, U.S. officials said.

If Uzbekistan follows through, as Washington expects, the United States will face several logistical problems for its operations in Afghanistan. Scores of flights have used K2 monthly. It has been a landing base to transfer humanitarian goods that then are taken by road into northern Afghanistan, particularly to Mazar-e Sharif — with no alternative for a region difficult to reach in the winter. K2 is also a refueling base with a runway long enough for large military aircraft. The alternative is much costlier midair refueling.

So we lose a airbase but I’m proud that our Government wouldn’t look the other way about this atrocity to keep it.

It will be difficult to commit large amount of troops to operations in Afghanistan now, but it won’t be impossible.

Registan has some thoughts on where the flights might come from:

The US will have to look for another way to fly into and out of Afghanistan. Kyrgyzstan is probably the best option, although I?m not all that sure how keen the Kyrgyz government will be to expand operations at the US base in Manas. Following the election there, they?ve been trying their hardest to run a balanced foreign policy, staying close to Russia, the US and China. It?s a very tricky act to pull off, and I don?t think offering to allow the US to run even more flights through Kyrgyzstan will help them to maintain that balance.

Radio Free Europe has an article that details the refugee problem involving this two countries:

In Kyrgyzstan, regime change produced a delicate domestic situation with numerous conflicting pressures, and the keynote in statements by the post-Akaev leadership has been a desire to avoid conflicts on the international arena.

Conditions are somewhat less than propitious. After violence in Andijon, nearly 500 Uzbek citizens fled to Kyrgyzstan, where they remain as asylum seekers in a camp in Jalal-Abad Province. Uzbek authorities have made it clear that they would like to have many of the asylum seekers back, while international organizations (and Kyrgyz NGOs) have strongly urged against their extradition, warning that they could face torture at home.

Against this contentious backdrop, Kyrgyz officials have strained to strike a balance. On the one hand, Kyrgyzstan has put at least 29 Uzbek asylum seekers in detention in response to information received from Uzbek authorities, who have requested the extradition of over 200 Uzbek citizens from Kyrgyzstan, RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service reported on 7 July. Prosecutor-General Azimbek Beknazarov has stressed that Kyrgyzstan will honor its international obligations — which would not permit the extradition of asylum seekers to Uzbekistan — while adding that it will also check the information it is receiving from Uzbekistan.
With international organizations currently seeking a third country, or countries, to take in the asylum seekers, the official Kyrgyz stance clearly suggests an attempt to mollify its large, angry neighbor while hoping that the international community will engineer a solution to the dilemma sooner rather than later.

But yesterday news came that the refugee crisis might be over:

Prague, 29 July 2005 (RFE/RL) — Some 440 Uzbek refugees who fled to neighboring Kyrgyzstan in May have been flown to Romania, where they will be temporarily housed until their final destination is determined.

Fifteen additional refugees remain in a detention center in Kyrgyzstan until authorities determine whether they are guilty of committing serious crimes in Uzbekistan.

Roza Otunbayeva, Kyrgyzstan?s acting foreign minister, told journalists late today that Bishkek is unlikely to extradite the remaining 15 to Uzbekistan.

The departure of the 440 Uzbek refugees from Kyrgyzstan puts an end to 10 weeks of pressure, negotiations, and diplomatic notes between Bishkek, Tashkent, and international organizations.

Muratbek Imanaliyev, the former Kyrgyz foreign minister, tells RFE/RL that Kyrgyz authorities have dealt well with opposing pressure from Uzbekistan and the United Nations.

?I believe the decision to take the refugees to a third country was the most optimal option, because, as we know, the Kyrgyz leadership has been caught between two fires on this issue. On the one hand, the international community demanded that Kyrgyzstan should follow the international convention it signed [on the protection of refugees]. On the other hand, there was Uzbekistan?s leadership, which also had support from some other states, [asking for them to be returned],? Imanaliyev said.

Uzbekistan had put strong pressure on Bishkek, saying some of the refugees were guilty of serious crimes, including terrorism and extremism during the violent clashes in Andijon in May. Human rights groups say the clashes between government troops and demonstrators may have left as many as 750 people dead, including many women and children.

Uzbek officials put the death toll from the violence at 187, saying most of those killed were government troops and extremists.

Alex Vatanka, the Eurasia editor at the London-based ?Jane?s Country Risk? security publication, says Bishkek has turned the Uzbek refugee crisis into a public relations opportunity.
He says the fact that Kyrgyz authorities decided to demonstrate their cooperation with international bodies like the UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, sends a positive signal to the world community.

?What the Kyrgyz decided to do — which was only to return a simple handful of the refugees immediately after they arrived and then allow the remaining to stay in Kyrgyzstan and allow, in the time that passed since, for things to cool down slightly — it?s made it a much better thought-through process than simply a kind of panic response to the immediate Uzbek demand when Andijon happened in May,” Vatanka says.

As I noted above, our Government decided that the massacre should be investigated, even tho we knew it might lead to an eviction…good news. Plus the Kyrgyz decided to heed the advice of most of the world and do the right thing with these refugee’s…more good news.

Check out Gateway Pundit who has been keeping tabs on this region.

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