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Military Rivalry in Central Asia

Monday, Dec. 22, 2008

The attacks of 9/11 and the ensuing war in Afghanistan did not start the new "Great Game" in Central Asia. Local governments had already grasped the Islamist threat, as well as Russia's neo-imperial longings to dominate the region. Central Asia's great energy stakes, meanwhile, had already determined American resistance to Moscow's policy.

However those events undoubtedly imparted a pronounced military aspect to the great power rivalry for political influence and energy access there. Since 2001, the U.S., Russia, Germany, France and India have all acquired local military bases, and their uses or potential missions have grown in importance (although France's presence at Dushanbe airport and Germany's base at Termez in Uzbekistan remain small operations). China, too, has sought bases in Central Asia, expressing interest in a Kyrgyzstan base in 2005, soon after that country's "Tulip Revolution," with the clear intention of forestalling any further upheavals. And when Uzbekistan evicted the U.S. from its base at Karshi Khanabad in July 2005, China sought that base as well, although the move was ultimately blocked by Russia.[1] ...

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