July 29, 2005
CENTRAL ASIA AND THE SCO: GLOBAL POWER 'PAWNS' AND 'COUNTERWEIGHTS'
** "Central Asian countries stand between great powers and try to get the best out of it."
** "The specter of Chinese expansion" and its energy needs are in play.
** "Experienced dictatorships" hobble "young democracies" in Central Asia.
** The SCO "U-turn" on base closings after Rumsfeld's July visit dubbed a "victory for the U.S."
Playing a strategic 'Great Game' in Central Asia (CA)-- France's right-of-center Le Figaro said China and Russia "moved their pawns in a very influential region" when the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), at its July summit in Astana, "suggested that America close down its military bases in Central Asia." Kazakhstan's pro-government Liter worried, however, that extremists from Afghanistan would provide the rationale to "extend the terms of presence" of U.S. bases. A Tajik analyst judged the SCO itself "not ready to assume security duties" and "guarantee the Central Asian states protection against drug, arms and human trafficking" or extremist infiltration. A Russian analyst opined that "Central Asia needs a 'policeman'."
China plys the SCO: 'the next move in China's game of chess'-- Pro-PRC Chinese outlets condemned U.S. presence in CA as "not just military," but "overall infiltration." They asserted that the West promotes "division" to "expand [its] own influences." China's Beijing Review spotlit China's growing energy needs to add "it's all about energy" and China is "targeting Russia and Central Asia." A German writer held that "Beijing feels surrounded.... It begins in Japan and ends in Central Asia." Russia's business-oriented Vedomosti opined, the SCO summit has pushed CA into "becoming a Chinese sphere of influence"; centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta urged Moscow to join with the U.S. to avoid ushering in an "era of Chinese domination."
'Moscow and Beijing leave less room for democracy'-- Writers were pessimistic about CA democratization. "CA despots like to be on their own," declared Germany's center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine; a Tajik writer saw U.S. setbacks in CA because the U.S. failed to "take the Eastern [autocratic] mentality into account." According to Uzbekistan's pro-government Delovaya Nedelya, after Karimov's "slaughter in Andijan," he found support in Moscow and Beijing. A French commentator explained that "China’s dictatorship and Russia's authoritarian democracy look more reassuring than the political openness called for by the West."
'An important victory for Rumsfeld'-- South Korea's independent Joong-Ang Ilbo wrote that 9/11 and Afghanistan "made CA important beyond imagination." It was that and the fact that young and poor democracies also need "the revenue from the bases" that allowed Rumsfeld on his late July visit to Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to garner a "victory for the U.S." After Astana, pro-PRC papers had hailed the SCO's call for U.S. withdrawal from bases at Manas and Khanabad, saying Central Asian states have the ability to "safeguard their security" and "must count more on themselves and their neighbors." But, on the heels of Rumsfeld's visit, China's official Communist Party Global Times acknowledged that "huge economic repercussions" on CA states were likely to blunt SCO moves to "drive the U.S. out" in the short term.
EDITOR: Rupert D. Vaughan
EDITOR'S NOTE: Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment. Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion. Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet. This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government. This analysis was based on 42 reports from 14 countries from June 30 to July 29, 2005. Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.
BRITAIN: "Reckless Realpolitik"
An editorial in the left-of-center Independent (7/28): "What we are seeing from Mr. Rumsfeld and the Bush administration is the same old cynical diplomacy that flourished in the Cold War era. The lessons of that time have not been learnt. By doing business with such regimes [as Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan], the U.S. is merely storing up problems for the future."
FRANCE: "Beijing And Moscow Want U.S. To Withdraw From Central Asia"
Jean-Jacques Mevel in right-of-center Le Figaro (7/6): “China and Russia yesterday moved their pawns in a very influential region of the world. They convinced four Central Asian states to put a stop to American military ambitions and political interventions in the region… The concern of authoritarian regimes in the face of advancing democratization explain their rallying to Beijing and Moscow. To them, China’s dictatorship and Russia’s authoritarian democracy look more reassuring than the political openness called for by the West… The final communiqué of the summit illustrates the strategic, political and economic rise of China in a region where the U.S. is trying to establish itself lastingly… The summit could open a new chapter in which China and Russia will feel sufficiently strong to back each other and demand that the U.S. begin its retreat from Central Asia. This question will be raised during Secretary Rice’s trip to Beijing at the end of this week… The fact that Iran was an observer at the summit in Astana can only re-enforce America’s concerns.”
GERMANY: "Price Tag"
Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger commented in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (7/27): "During his visit to Kyrgyzstan, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld was assured that the United States can continue its military presence in the country as long as the situation in Afghanistan requires it. And it is not looking particularly good there. In other words, Washington can decide itself about the duration of its military presence. I wonder how much Rumsfeld was ready to pay for this U-turn and that Washington does to have to give way to its competitor Russia. Was it just the praise for the free and fair election of the new Kyrgyz president?"
"A Costly Base"
Center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich editorialized (7/27): "This is an important victory for Rumsfeld, not just for logistical reasons. Keep in mind that Russia, China and Central Asian governments recently rebelled against the U.S. military presence in the region and demanded a deadline for the U.S. withdrawal. For obvious reasons leaders like the Uzbek Karimov joined the demand. The U.S. is urging investigations of the mass murder in Andijan. As a result, Kamirov turned towards Russia and China. The Central Asian countries stand between great powers and try to get the best out of it. That is the case for experienced dictatorships like Uzbekistan and young democracies like Kyrgyzstan. In the end, money counts. The poor country Kyrgyzstan needs the revenue from the U.S. bases."
"Rather On Their Own"
Peter Sturm commented in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (7/6): "Central Asian countries gladly joined in as partners when it was about toppling the Taliban a few years ago, because they felt threatened by the jihadists just as much. This threat has not yet been eliminated, but the dictators feel stronger today than ever. One of the reasons is the support those countries receive from their big neighbors, Russia and China, who they can rely on in times of conflicts. On the other hand, they are suspicious about the presence of American troops in the region, since Washington no longer accepts everything that goes on in Central Asia. Uzbek President Karimov had to realize this recently. He rather relies on tested relations; it suits him that China has always been opposed to the Western presence in the region. Beijing feels surrounded. From the Chinese point of view, there is an American flag at every corner of its border. It begins in Japan and ends in Central Asia. When China will get the opportunity to change this, it will take it. Central Asian despots like to be on their own."
Karl Grobe noted in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (7/6): "The desire of Central Asians that the U.S. should present a plan for pulling out its troops from Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan does not come as a surprise. The friendship ended with the regime change in Kyrgyzstan, which faces presidential elections, and the massacre in the Uzbek town of Andijan. Uzbek dictator Karimov threw out the civil aid workers from the United States. Journalists, who were unwisely educated by the West, are facing charges of treason. He sees any opposition as foreign-guided terrorists. The Shanghai organization, which just met in the Kazakh capital Astana, had no problem with it. The members did not deal with the domestic situation of the countries involved. Neither does the U.S. bother too much about things like that when they forge alliances. In the name of multiculturalism, the Shanghai group distances itself from the only superpower and establishes ties to India, Pakistan and Iran. It turns into a political factor. What about democracy? It would be a great mistake to leave this field to Washington's politicians."
RUSSIA: "A Victory For The U.S."
Nelli Orlova stated in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (7/28): “U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s Central Asian tour ended with a full victory for U.S. diplomacy. Obviously, Rumsfeld outbid the Chinese, as he lobbied the United States’ interests in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.”
"Economic Aspect Is Important"
Leyli Akilova and Vladimir Bogdanov said in official government-run Rossiyskaya Gazeta (7/27): "The Pentagon will not withdraw its bases from (Central Asia). Nor does Kyrgyzstan wish to strain its relations with the White House. There is an economic aspect to Washington-Bishkek relations. Kyrgyzstan’s position may have been swayed by the Americans’ threat to cut financial assistance to Central Asian countries."
"Money Does It All"
Reformist Novyye Izvestiya reported (7/27): "The Pentagon is not going to pull out its military bases from Central Asia. It became clear after the U.S. Defense Secretary’s visit to Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Mr. Rumsfeld overcame what resistance he may have run into there by offering money to everyone. It is as simple as that."
"Bishkek Changes Its Mind"
Bek Orozaliyev commented from Bishkek for business-oriented Kommersant (7/27): "Kyrgyz Defense Minister Ismail Isakov made it look absurd by saying after Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s meeting with President Kurmanbek Bakiyev that the United States would keep its military base in Kyrgyzstan until the situation in neighboring Afghanistan normalized fully. The Defense Minister’s words conflict with the Kyrgyz President‘s recent statement that the situation in Afghanistan is back to normal and the military operation is over."
"Moscow Bets On Wrong Guys"
Nataliya Gevorkyan stated in business-oriented Kommersant (7/21): "Aleksandr Lukashenko is a goner, Moscow or no Moscow. Moscow’s mistake is that it tends to bet on people, not relations with the country (they represent). It dates back to Soviet times and doesn’t work in open society free from the Iron Curtain. After flopping in Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan, the Kremlin risks flopping dismally in Belarus, even if it wrings concessions from the Father of the Byelorussian people."
"Nevzlin Urges Americans To Punish Russia"
Yevgeniy Umerenkov filed from New York for youth-oriented Komsomol’skaya Pravda (7/15): “Washington's ostensibly extending a welcome to one of the Russian oligarchs who have fallen out of the Kremlin’s good graces is a sure sign that it has been paid for. Six big local PR companies lobbied Menatep Group’s interests in the U.S. Senate. Washington letting someone fulminate at Russia officially is another sure sign that the White House is seriously displeased. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization, in which Moscow is a key member, suggested the other day that America close down its military bases in Central Asia. The U.S. Administration did not like that, of course. Washington paid the Kremlin back by welcoming its bitter opponent Leonid Nevzlin, who is hiding in Israel from the Russian justice system. Curiously, some oligarchs from the former USSR are not allowed in the United States. Mr. Rabinovich is one of them.... Could it be that he is not wanted there because he doesn’t criticize Putin in public?”
Anatoliy Pobedimov filed from Bishkek for reformist Vlast’ (7/13): “On July 10, after 15 years of Askar Akayev’s rule, Kyrgyzstan elected a new President or rather the tandem of Prime Minister Kurmanbek Bakiyev and former Vice President Feliks Kulov. The new leaders are likely to use the old ways.”
"Who Was Behind Regime Change"
Sergey Markedonov of the Institute of Political and Military Analyses wrote in Centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (7/13): "The situation in Kyrgyzstan suggests that it is not the United States but Russia and China that stood behind the regime change there.... Problems facing that country today have more to do with maintaining national unity, fighting poverty and corruption, ensuring ethnic minority rights, and resisting Islamic fundamentalism in the south, than they have to do with minimizing U.S. influence.... Central Asia needs a ‘policeman.’ It would have been good to have Russia play that role. But through lack of resources and political will, Russia is not up to this task. To do the job, Russia needs to join hands with the United States. Failing to do so will usher in an era of Chinese domination. As we qualify for America’s junior partner, we can’t aspire for more than China’s junior vassal."
"Crawling Into Asia"
Yevgeniy Verlin wrote in business-oriented Vedomosti (7/13): "Following the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Astana, Kazakhstan, some observers hurried to declare Central Asia’s return to the ’Russian fold.’ Even if that is really so, it must suit Beijing more than Central Asia drifting toward the West and democratic reform. With the Chinese, there is nothing wrong with the ‘Russian fold,’ if only because Russia is a strategic partner, a junior one at that, its strength waning steadily and its policy ever more agreeable to China.... So, rather than getting back into the ‘Russian fold,’ Central Asia is becoming a Chinese sphere of influence."
"A Special Summit"
Gennadiy Sysoyev commented in business-oriented Kommersant (7/7): "Moscow and its colleagues in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization insist that the United States and NATO set a date for the withdrawal of their troops from Central Asia. That kind of behavior may appear tough, if not confrontational, with regard to its G-8 partners, but this is not what Moscow meant it to be. In fact, Moscow can’t afford to act that way. The alliance with China and tough rhetoric addressed to the West are an attempt to boost Moscow’s prestige as the G-8’s next president. Apparently, Moscow knows of no other way to gain authority."
"Who Helps Whom Do What?"
Viktoriya Panfilova wrote in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (7/6): "While it was taken into account, of course, Washington’s bid to join the organization was not considered at this summit.... As Russia seeks to create a geopolitical counterweight to the United States in Central Asia, it should be wary of Chinese expansion there. Under the circumstances, Russia and other post-Soviet republics chose to overlook it, thinking that Islamic extremists and the possibility of their coming to power in Central Asia pose a greater danger. But then, the specter of Chinese expansion will always loom over the horizon."
"Moscow And Beijing Leave Less Room For Democracy"
Nataliya Gevorkyan commented in business-oriented Kommersant (7/5): "The fear of an ‘orange revolution’ prevails over common sense in Moscow. The Chinese nod their heads, as they don’t like separatists either, sympathize with Islam Karimov, and want to maintain a status quo in the region. In the meantime, they are quietly pushing plans for the construction of an oil pipeline connecting Russia to China. Oil is all that matters to them now. Russian oil will make them less dependent on America. China, objectively, is growing into a superpower, the only one potentially comparable to the United States. So, it can well accept the Shanghai Cooperation Organization as a political cover for shooting peaceful citizens once they decide that they can’t do without democracy. As Moscow and Beijing draw closer together, they leave less room for democracy in Central Asia."
"Getting Hooked On War"
Sergey Strokan commented in business-oriented Kommersant (6/30): "George Bush is really taking chances, as ’collective Usama bin Ladin’ may take advantage of him. The President’s words can be taken at faith value only as long as explosions shake Iraq, not the United States. Once, God forbid, al-Qaida tries something in the United States again, the Bush concept to move the war on terror to third countries, away from home, will instantly fall through and the Iraq campaign will make no sense anymore. The idea of a movable war is akin to that of moving hazardous production from America to Third World countries so the Americans don’t have to worry very much about environmental pollution. George Bush is not the only one hooked on the war on terror he needs to hype himself up from time to time. Indicatively, as the U.S. President was speaking at Fort Bragg, Uzbek President Islam Karimov came up with his side of the Andijan story in Uzbekistan. It would seem there is a world of difference between the two politicians, one representing the democratic West and the other the authoritarian East. But comparing their statements, you find a striking similarity between them, as both men want somebody else to pay their bills."
Writing about Uzbek President Karimov’s visit to Moscow, Sergey Strokan of business-oriented Kommersant pointed out (6/29): "Symbolically, after meeting with the Uzbek leader in Moscow yesterday, Vladimir Putin will welcome Chairman Hu Jintao of China, who is coming the day after tomorrow. The topic of Uzbekistan, central on the agenda of the Russian-Chinese summit, may give a new sense to Moscow-Beijing relations. Obviously, the Kremlin has taken note of and appreciates Beijing’s reaction to the Andijan events, feeling like stepping up cooperation within the informal Russia-China-Uzbekistan triangle. This means that the Russo-Sino-Uzbek strategic alliance will become a ‘troika’ with Uzbekistan, a leading Central Asian state, as a member. As it forms a new ‘Asian triangle,’ Moscow pursues several goals: one, building up resistance to 'destabilizing influence from the outside,’ that is, the growing Western influence in post-Soviet republics; two, trying to breathe new life into the Shanghai Cooperation Organization; and three, giving a symmetrical response to the United States’ attempts to set up an energy security zone involving parts of the former Soviet Union by creating an alternative energy zone linking Russia to Uzbekistan and China."
KAZAKHSTAN: "This Strange Al-Qaida"
Ravil Usmanov had this to say in the pro-government Liter (7/26): “In connection with terror acts in London I want to discuss the following: do you remember the statement Al-Qaida made in connection with the beginning of the Iraq bombing? It perfectly and unambiguously made it clear that all countries that are part of the antiterrorist coalition and have a [military] presence in Iraq will pay through terror acts in their capitals, the death of their people, and fear and panic on the streets of their cities. London has already paid its price.... Who is next? Kazakhstani soldiers are also in Iraq. Is there any guarantee that our republic is not included in the list of countries that could pay and already paid for support of Washington’s global geopolitical game? And where is the guarantee that we will be ready for this?... We still keep our soldiers in Iraq. According to the logic of terrorists, we are enemies. We can be on the list of bin Ladin as a country that should pay through explosions and the death of innocent people for the war of the West against the East. The only sense in this action is to make Central Asia a hearth of instability and spread panic in the most successful republic in the region from economic and security points of view. Who will benefit from that?... If the [U.S.] manages to prove that terrorist acts here were committed by militants who infiltrated here from Afghanistan, they will extend the terms of presence of the anti-terrorist coalition in bases in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, in other words, prolong their military presence in the region.”
TAJIKISTAN: "Why The United States Is Not Successful In Central Asia,"
Zafar Abdullaev, Director of Tajikistan's most widely read Internet news agency, analyzed in State-owned Kurier Tajikistana (7/15): "The main reason of the mini-failure of American foreign policy in the region is the practice of double standards and the failure to take the Eastern [autocratic] mentality into account.... The United States failed to create or support a democratic base in Central Asia and that NGOs in their reporting to Washington exaggerated the level of democratic support that exists."
"Shanghai Body Not Ready To Assume Security Duties"
The deputy director of the Strategic Research Center under the Tajik president, Sayfullo Safarov remarked in Dushanbe Avesta (Internet version 7/6): “The decisions taken by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization member-states are prompted by the stances of some of its members…[however] the latest events in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan have shown that the SCO and the Collective Security Treaty Organization member- states lack effectiveness and precision in tackling military and political issues. It is premature to impose requirements on the U.S. and NATO military, because the SCO member states have not created appropriate conditions for maintaining security in the Central Asia region.... No-one can guarantee the Central Asian states protection against the drug, arms and human trafficking and the infiltration of religious and extremist organizations into the Central Asian states."
UZBEKISTAN: "Praise For The Astana Summit"
Political scientists Qobilbek Karimbekov, and his guest, Uzbekistani political commentator Gofur JamolovTashkent noted on Uzbek Television (7/7): “We praise SCO members Russia, Kazakhstan, China, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan for taking resolute measures to fight the three evils --terrorism, separatism and extremism and highlight the importance of the organization for the Central Asian states.”
"The Skill To Connect The Dots"
Andrey Saidov wrote this for pro-government weekly Delovaya Nedelya (7/1): “On June 28 at a meeting with Vladimir Putin at his Novo-Ogarevo country residence, Islam Karimov said the tragic events in Andijan were organized by the West… Having invited Karimov for dinner to his country place, Putin per se saved the dictator once and for all from a West-orchestrated role as new political outcast. It was obviously not an unselfish move, nor undertaken with the most humane considerations. A week after the slaughter in Andijan, Karimov hopped a flight to Beijing to enlist his friend Hu's support in light of the forthcoming international condemnation, in exchange of course for China’s wide access to Uzbekistan, the almost former U.S. sphere of influence. The Russian President, second after China to unambiguously support the regime for the May 13 massive slaughter, could not in any way lose the geopolitical initiative and not exploit Karimov’s forced servility.... Karimov enthusiastically grasped an extended hand of support and at once brought forward his thesis about a plot planned by the West in collusion with Islamic extremists.... From Novo-Ogareva Karimov went directly to a meeting with Defense Minister Ivanov, where he discussed the future of a Russian military presence in Uzbekistan.... Now analysts are waiting to see whether in the near future the U.S. will make overt concessions to Karimov to preserve its military and political influence in Uzbekistan and whether the base in Khanabad will be co-located next to a Russian or Chinese facility.
CHINA: "It's All About Energy--In search of Energy Diplomacy Rules"
Zhang Lijun, a researcher with the China Institute of International Studies commented in Beijing Review (Internet Version-7/29): "China's energy demand is soaring, as its high-speed economic growth shows no sign of slowing down. Chinese President Hu Jintao recently acknowledged this fact when he stressed the importance of Sino-Russian energy cooperation during his state visit to Russia in June. The country has barged its way to becoming the second largest oil importer worldwide, a fact that prompted leading scholars to warn that insufficient energy supplies could become a serious threat to China's future development. Under such circumstances, there is a vigorous push for cooperation with neighboring countries like Russia and Central Asian nations in terms of energy, to provide a stable supply to China.... Given this, the country transferred its attention to neighboring countries, targeting Russia and Central Asian countries. Russia is abundant in energy resources, with natural gas reserves being the second largest in the world and its oil reserves ranking eighth. The Far East regions of Russia have remarkable oil and gas reserves, with huge exploration potential. Through joint efforts between China and Russia, current energy cooperation is tight. In 2004, Russia's 14 million tons of crude oil sales to China exceeded one 10th of China's total import volume that year.... Central Asian and Caucasian countries also have sufficient oil and gas reserves. Oil reserves in Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan total 4.3 billion tons, while under the Caspian Sea a further 7.4 billion tons lies undisturbed. According to some experts, the region has the potential to become the second "Middle East" in terms of its oil reserves. In 1997, China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC) defeated other big oil companies from Russia and the United States in a bid for the mining rights to two Kazak oil fields. The volume for exploitation of these two oil fields is estimated at 1 billion and 1.5 billion barrels respectively. CNPC also promised to construct a 3,000-km oil pipeline from Kazakhstan to Xinjiang Autonomous Region in China.... China can also strengthen its energy cooperation with Central Asian countries through the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
"U.S. Defense Secretary Arrives In Central Asia For Second Visit in Three Months."
Ling Fan commented in the official Communist Party international news publication Global Times (Huanqiu Shibao) (7/27): “It is unusual that the U.S. Defense Secretary pays a second visit to a country within such a short time.... Rumsfeld has an obvious goal, to elicit Kyrgyzstan’s attitude regarding the military base.... Kyrgyzstan’s attitude is hard to read. Analysts believe that although Kyrgyzstan has already made clear that U.S. forces must leave, the huge economic repercussions of such an action mean that Kyrgyzstan cannot drive the U.S. out. During Rumsfeld’s visit, Russian media commented that once the war on terror has succeeded, the forces should be withdrawn from Central Asian countries.”
"Can Central Asia Drive Away The U.S. Military?"
Chang Hao, Guan Jinyong, Sun Yi and Chen Cheng commented in the official Communist Party international news publication Global Times (Huanqiu Shibao) (7/20): “Many countries in Central Asia hope that the U.S. military will leave their region. But their hope can hardly be realized in the short term. The most important reason is that the U.S. will not easily leave Central Asia. Deploying troops in Central Asia is a part of the U.S. global security strategy. The U.S. presence in Central Asia is not just military, but it is an overall infiltration of Central Asia. What’s more, the U.S. influence in the region is increasing. Besides, Central Asian countries only recently decided they objected to U.S. presence. Russia won’t be squeezed out and the U.S. will exist in the region for a long time. China and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s influence will continuously increase. Countries in the region maintain balanced diplomacy, adopting a balance of cooperation and disagreements.”
"SCO Calls on West to Withdraw From Central Asia"
Beijing's People's Daily, Renmin Ribao, newspaper of the CPC Central Committee, WWW-Text in English (7/8): “the most noticeable signal given by the Summit to the world is that the SCO member countries have the ability and responsibility to safeguard the security of the Central Asian region, and calls on Western countries to leave Central Asia.... This point was proudly touched upon by leaders of the summit sponsor countries, President Nulsultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Hu Jintao. The size of the SCO as claimed by the Russian newspaper has become a reality after Iran, Pakistan and India joined this organization in the capacity as observers.... To be frank, the SCO issues to the West a clear-cut signal: It is high time to decide on the fate of the military bases in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.... The West's attempt to expand their own influences has failed to enable the Central Asian countries to get united, but instead has caused division among them. This is a grave error committed by the West. This mistake has brought home to Central Asian political circles that they must count more on themselves and their neighbors, since neighboring countries have a better understanding about what this region needs.
"SCO Pushes For Regional Co-op"
The official English-language China Daily published (7/8): “It has been four years since the founding of the Shanghai Co-operation Organization (SCO).... This year's SCO summit was held against a backdrop of regional politics in flux, and playing a starring role on the international stage. With war in Afghanistan and Iraq, the West, and the United States in particular, has been mapping out an integrated framework for world security and launching 'colour revolutions' and offensives aiming at 'democracy reforms' and 'eradicating dictatorship' in the former Soviet bloc and greater Middle East... These developments pose a serious threat to the healthy growth of the SCO. With hegemony in the world, the old rules for international relations no longer apply, and there are calls for a new political and economic order. SCO member states, in development or in transition, urgently need an international environment that is flexible and fair... Nations in Central Asia need a stable and harmonious environment in order to complete the transfer after their independence. Establishing new regional politics and a new economic order has become the foundation upon which change can take place smoothly."
CHINA (HONG KONG, MACAU SARS): "More Calls For The Withdrawal Of U.S. Troops In Central Asia "
The pro-PRC Chinese-language Macau Daily News remarked (7/15): "Since the Shanghai Cooperation Organization held a summit meeting in Astana early this month, calls for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Central Asia have gotten louder. Given that the grounds to station troops in Central Asia has become so weak, the U.S. is thrown into a passive position.... In a declaration issued by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the organization's members are opposed to outside interference in member countries' internal affairs. It is obvious that this message is for the U.S. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization stressed that their capabilities in countering terrorism are getting stronger. They could deal with terrorism through cooperation. Therefore, there was no need for U.S. troops to be stationed there.... After the terrorist attack in London, President Bush said the bombings indicated that in the global war on terrorism, the U.S. needed to 'take the initiative to hit out globally.' Upholding the banner of 'global war on terrorism,' it is believed that the U.S. will look for an excuse to let its troops be stationed in Central Asia and other areas. Hence, the contradictions between the U.S. and Central Asian countries with U.S. troops will intensify."
"U.S. Sidelined As Central Asia’s 'Great Game' Intensifies"
Hong Kong's non-PRC-owned English-language South China Morning Post in English (7/8): "The comparatively recent American presence, in the form of oil money and troops--while initially welcomed by Central Asian states as part of the 'war on terror' and a counterbalance to Russia's own designs on its former provinces--now appears to be under threat. At this week's meeting in Kazakhstan's capital of Astana, Iran, Pakistan, India and Mongolia were permitted to attend with observer status, a possible sign of ambitious expansion plans for the organization.... America and France have troops based in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. After last year's 'orange revolution' in Georgia [actually Ukraine]...and this year's unrest in Kyrgyzstan...the suspicion is that America is trying to overthrow the area's traditionally dictatorial and pro-Russian leaders.... In recent years China has been adept at filling the vacuum left by Western companies either forbidden to, or unwilling to do business in countries that have become international pariahs. Those countries include Sudan, Zimbabwe, Nepal and Myanmar [Burma]. This week's announcement by the SCO appears to be the next move in China's game of chess.... Behind this is not only China's own strategic concerns in keeping Central Asia free of U.S. troops...but also from China's insatiable energy needs."
"Time To Bring Rising Powers Into G-8 Fold"
The independent English-language South China Morning Post said in an editorial (7/6): "But just as the G-8's concerns have evolved with the changing world, it is time to consider updating its membership by bringing in new, rising global powers. The most obvious candidate is China. India is another. The inclusion of either or both nations to form a G-9 or G-10 would not only make the world body more representative, but also allow it to tackle humanity's shared problems more effectively.... Witness mainland oil-and-gas giant CNOOC's bid to take over Unocal, which is partly driven by its desire to get access to the American firm's energy reserves in Central and Southeast Asia. If it could curb its insatiable appetite for energy, China (and the U.S.) may even be able to reverse global warming. Similarly, with its pivotal position in world trade, huge foreign investment intake and ballooning reserve of U.S. dollars, China's co-operation is crucial to maintaining global economic stability."
TAIWAN: "Beijing’s Expanding Military Global Issue"
Liu Kuan-teh, a Taipei-based political commentator, wrote in the pro-independence, English-language Taipei Times (7/25): “The Pentagon report is a wake-up call to the international community that Taiwan is not the only potential victim of Beijing’s missile development and military aggrandizement. China’s emerging military threat has extended beyond the Asia-Pacific region to Russia, Central and Southern Asia, and Australia. Even though the Chinese authorities have introduced the concept of ‘peaceful rise,’ a new term to describe China’s emergence, the notion of the ‘China threat’ is by no means limited to the Taiwan Strait. In pursuing engagement with China, the international community, including the U.S., must state clearly that safeguarding a strong and democratic Taiwan is in the interest of U.S. efforts to create peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region. Only by offering Taiwan support for continued democratic consolidation and defense can the impact of the ‘China threat’ be jointly managed.”
MALAYSIA: "Central Asia Tells U.S. To Withdraw"
Kuala Lumpur's Chung Kuo Pao (China Press) in Chinese (7/8): "China and Russia have persuaded the Central Asian countries to tell the U.S. to withdraw its military bases from their territories. This is a heavy counterblow China has dealt to the U.S. in the two countries' recent turf war in the region."
SOUTH KOREA: "The Relevance Of Central Asia"
Senior Columnist Kim Young-hie remarked in independent Joong-Ang Ilbo (7/8): "The leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and Russia held a meeting in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, and demanded the United States to withdraw its armed forces from Central Asia. It makes me realize that the world has changed a lot. [When the Soviet Union created the] Commonwealth of Independent States for Russian nations, there was no concern at all for the Islamic countries in Central Asia, which were also part of the Soviet Union. Russia's interest in Central Asia has changed 180 degrees in the last 14 years.... The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the war in Afghanistan suddenly made Central Asia important beyond imagination in 2001. The United States established military bases for U.S. armed forces in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan during the Afghanistan war. On the surface, it was meant to be a temporary measure for the war, but the real intention of the United States was to advance into Central Asia, a strategically valuable place for the United States. Central Asia is the backyard of China and the front yard of Russia. The reason Russia could not restrain the United States from establishing military bases in Central Asia was because of the national sentiment of the United States public after the terror attacks..... The United States gains a lot by advancing into Central Asia. It can restrain the expanding influence of Russia in the Middle East and Gulf area and press China from its back with an eye on 2020. The United States can also stand in a good position for the power struggles in Eurasia, which is surrounded by oil in the Caspian Sea.... We now need to think of Northeast Asia on a much broader scale. The east half of Eurasia, including Central Asia, has to be included in our strategic plan for the future."
INDIA: "Tripping Out On The Home Stretch"
Nilova Roy Chaudhury expressed the view in the nationalist Hindustan Times (7/3): “India is seen faltering in the home stretch. Officials say a series of wrong decisions and inadequate attention to detail over a sustained period may have stymied India's chances of a permanent seat in the UN.... The PM's decision to skip the Shanghai Cooperation Organization meet in Kazakhstan next week has also not sent the right signals to the Central Asian region. Contrary to earlier reservations, being part of the G-4 'has probably been the wisest move' India made in its run up to the UNSC, and is 'the only feeble ray of hope,' an official said.”
PAKISTAN: "New 'Great Game' Defies U.S. Interests In Central Asia"
The Daily Times published (7/28) "Many countries think the Americans do not increase stability when they come to a region but increase instability’. The United States has won assurances it can keep its base in Kyrgyzstan, but it may face new challenges as play resumes in the centuries old 'Great Game' for influence in strategic Central Asia. In 2001, Washington won an earlier round when it secured tacit consent of former colonial ruler Russia and stationed troops in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan--once Moscow’s imperial backyard--to back its military operations in Afghanistan. But Moscow is back in the game, now exploiting suspicion among the region’s veteran leaders that Washington--associated with a series of “velvet revolutions” in ex-Soviet countries--may be out to unseat them too. “There is a lot of suspicion about U.S. long-term intentions,” said a senior U.S diplomat. This diplomat added it was tied to the mistaken belief Washington was trying to stir up new revolutions in Central Asia."
"Kyrgyzstan Links Fate Of U.S. Airbase To Situation In Afghanistan"
The Daily Times remarked (7/27): "Kyrgyzstan assured the United States on Tuesday that it could keep its base in the former Soviet Central Asian state to support American military operations in Afghanistan. But remarks by the Kyrgyz leadership, under pressure on the issue from old ally Russia, fell short of providing the United States with an open-ended right to stay for as long as it wished. 'I wouldn’t pack your bags,' visiting U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told U.S. troops at the base at Manas international airport, 30 km east of the capital Bishkek, in an upbeat comment after talks with Kyrgyz leaders. I have every reason to believe the relationship will continue in an orderly way,” added Rumsfeld, who later flew to Tajikistan for talks with its leadership."
"U.S. To Stay Put"
An editorial in the center-right national English daily The Nation (7/12): "Dr. Condoleezza Rice has turned down the Shanghai Cooperation Organization's call to the Pentagon to set a deadline to close down its bases established in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan in 2001. These bases were set up after the U.S. had launched a military operation against the Taliban following 9/11. Although she did not specifically mention these two countries, she was referring to them when she said, “there is still a lot of terrorist activity in Afghanistan” and U.S. troops, training the Afghan army to counter it, were still needed in Central Asia. She then cleverly shifted her focus to the U.S. presence in Afghanistan and maintained that the GIs would stay there “since Afghanistan is sovereign ... in fact has an elected President” and wanted them there. She conveniently ignored the point that both Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan were sovereign as well, whatever the import of the snide remark about the election of a president, and had, through a declaration of the SCO of which they are members, asked Washington to set a deadline for a pullout. Other members of the six-country SCO are Russia, China, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan (Pakistan, India and Iran acceded as observers at last week’s meeting). They pointed out that since the active phase of the anti-terrorist operation in Afghanistan had ended “member states consider it essential that the relevant participants in the anti-terrorist coalition set deadlines for the temporary use” of these bases. While SCO members are firm about combating terrorism, they are equally apprehensive of Washington’s long-term designs in the region and would like to see the last of its troops sooner rather than later."
"SCO Wants Date For U.S. Withdrawal From Central Asia"
The Daily Times observed (7/6) "The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), an alliance grouping Russia, China and central Asian countries on Tuesday called for the U.S.-led anti-terrorist coalition in Afghanistan to set a time frame for withdrawing its forces from member states. Both Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan host U.S. bases whose troops are involved in the Afghanistan operation. The SCO also added Pakistan, Iran and India as observer nations. The additions bolster the grouping’s clout. Russia in particular in recent years has pushed for what it calls a “multipolar” world, seeking to balance alleged U.S. domination of foreign policy issues. At a summit in the Kazakh capital, the SCO said in a declaration that a withdrawal date should be stated since active fighting in Afghanistan has decreased. 'We support and will support the international coalition, which is carrying out an anti-terror campaign in Afghanistan, and we have taken note of the progress made in the effort to stabilize the situation,' the declaration said."
"Heart, Mind And Dollar"
An op-ed by Inam Khawaja in the second largest Urdu daily Nawa-e-Waqt (7/5): "Thinkers of the American administration have concluded that the U.S. should use its influence for reforms in Islam.... The CIA operates secretly, but under the new approach they are giving hefty sums to media people and other thinkers. Washington people are spending hundreds of millions of dollars for increasing their influence in the Muslim society. Beware! This time around the target is not only Muslims but also Islam. America has announced that it intended to change the basic structure of Islam.... Karen Hughes is President Bush's adviser on communication since long. Now she has been made the head of Public Diplomacy of DoS.... Public Diplomacy department works through USIA, which is a public relations department.... Following are the targets of new policy...and other confidence building measures that had been taken in Pakistan, Egypt, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan and training of mosque Imams, which is being done currently in Bangladesh."
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