The US State Secretary Hillary Clinton is on a four-day tour of four Asian countries, including three former republics of the Soviet Union, namely Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.
In Kazakhstan, Mrs. Clinton attended the summit of the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe (OSCE). In her remarks to the summit she specifically stressed the need for further cooperation, and especially the European assistance to US efforts in Afghanistan.
Mrs. Clinton also praised the Kazakhstan authorities for their efforts in establishing democracy, but made it in a rather dubious way. It is no secret that the regime in Kazakhstan is probably the most democratic one of all former Soviet Central Asian states. As Mrs. Clinton has put it, “Kazakhstan may be further along than the countries in this region but if you compare to where I know Kazakhstan wants to be in ten or twenty years, there's a long road ahead.”
The whole Asian tour of the US State secretary was marred by the recent revelations by WikiLeaks that were intended to spoil America’s relations with too many countries. And Central Asia was not excluded.
The region plays a vital role in America’s strategies. And this is not only due to the fact that the whole region is too close to Afghanistan where the US is striving hard to make the world believe that it can implant its principle of governance in a completely alien environment.
The US interests are much deeper than that. The fact that the US is still maintaining its military base at Manas International Airport in Kyrgyzstan is one of the examples of a far-reaching strategic game the US is playing in the region.
The region also plays a vital role in the US attempts to limit Russia’s influence both in Central Asia and in the Trans-Caucasian region. This was clearly demonstrated during the OSCE summit in Astana when the US and the West in general were trying hard to impose a resolution on “the conflict in Georgia”, implying that the aggression launched by the Georgian regime against South Ossetia in August 2008 was an internal Georgian matter. As Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has put it, “There can be no question of Georgia’s territorial integrity within its former border limits.” The fact that South Ossetia and Abkhazia are independent states is irreversible.
But what goes even beyond this score is the US interest in the oil and gas reserves of the Central Asian region. To that end, the US is ready to close its eyes on the issues of human rights violations and other so called “democratic principles” Washington is so eager to use when dealing with countries that do not fall into its political line. It is common knowledge that the US is intensely lobbying the Nabucco pipeline and its extension to the oil and gas-rich regions of Central Asia, so that the routes of hydrocarbon transportation would bypass Russia. Hence, her interest in talking to Uzbek President Islam Karimov seems only too natural.
Therefore, the route Mrs. Clinton has chosen for herself in Central Asia seems to be quite symptomatic.
After Kazakh capital Astana she heads for the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek where she is due to discuss some issues (the agenda has not been revealed by the State Department) with acting President Roza Otunbayeva. The talks do not seem to be easy. Kyrgyzstan political parties have not yet succeeded in forming a reliable government after the parliamentary elections held almost two months ago, on October 10.
And as if to greet the US State Secretary on the eve of her arrival, a bomb blast rocked the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek on Tuesday, wounding two police officers.
Apparently, the event is not connected with Mrs. Clinton’s visit, and has to do with the internal problems of Kyrgyzstan. But such occurrences have been becoming less and less uncommon in the latest years. So, maybe it would be good advice to the State Secretary and other high ranking US officials to abstain from going too deep in the matters of the countries where they are not welcome. That is, if they really want to see those countries stable and secure, as they proclaim.