United States–Uzbekistan relations - Wikipedia
The U.S. military ships another third of its cargo to Afghanistan by air, . The U.S. -Uzbekistan military relationship has had its ups and downs. This paper examines the dynamics of U.S.-Uzbek relations and the single most important factor that broke the alliance. A critical factor in policy making in. The United States established diplomatic relations with Uzbekistan in following its independence from the Soviet Union. Since then, the.
For Uzbekistan, meanwhile, the visit served as an important recognition of its new course of reforms.
United States–Uzbekistan relations
It was also, he said, a historic visit, given the current potential and will on both sides to foster dramatically better relations between Uzbekistan and the US than have prevailed in the past. Furthermore, the visits of the Kazakh and Uzbek presidents this year have laid the groundwork for broader U. These meetings and events underscore the need for the U. As a follow up to the visit, a number of business-to-business events are planned for later this year in Tashkent, including the Trade Investment Forum and the Central Asia Trade Forum.
The US and Uzbekistan have developed a clear schedule of next steps and follow-up meetings to support progress, and Mr. Reid noted the impressive spirit of partnership between the two countries. The Trump administration has increased its attention to Central Asia and seems to consider Central Asia at least as an entity of itself, and not just through the prism of China or Russia.
The slight liberalization that has occurred in Uzbekistan makes it possible for the U. Much of US efforts thus far have focused on improving human security.
The emphasis now is on social and economic issues, but it eventually should expand to include more progress on broader human rights. Uzbekistan has already had some success reforming the judicial and security sector and embarking on the fight with corruption, all measures that will improve the investor climate with the hope of increasing foreign direct investment and and trade. Moreover, many notable regional initiatives— including the Belt and Road Initiative and the Northern Distribution Network, and others—have historically aimed at shipping things through Central Asia, not at building connectivity in Central Asia.
While cross-border trade has been facilitated by the elimination of tariffs and the reduction of prices within the region, this cross-border trade has not been yet institutionalized. Neither has regional cooperation as a whole.
- U.S. Department of State
- Uzbekistan and the United States–Friends or Foes?
The region needs to move beyond personalized diplomatic relations to more institutional-based ones where presidential-level intervention is not needed for what should be regularized cross-border cooperation. Luckily, Stronski notes, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan have a growing class of technocrats in their respective civil services who understand this need and should work to facilitate this transition from personalized-to-institutionalized relations. Now, after all the reforms of the past year, the question is: In the early days of independence, the Uzbek leadership pursued a thinly disguised hostile policy towards Russia and openly courted the United States.
Following the September 11 attacks and the U.Ambassador Spratlen Marks 25 Years of U.S.-Uzbek Relations
But three years after the signing of the historic agreement, the Uzbek leadership added its voice to those of Russia and China to remove the United States from Central Asia. This appears to be a complete turn around and contradicts everything that Tashkent had pursued.
The paramount importance of self-preservation explains why Uzbek President Islam Karimov, warning of the imperial undercurrents in Russian politics, could on one day ridicule Russia for its inefficiency in fighting terrorism when compared with the American success in dislodging the Taliban and then sit at a roundtable with presidents of Russia and the neighboring states to present a united front against the United States.
The Karshi-Khanabad Air Base near the Uzbek-Afghan border, which came to be known as K2 by the Americans, served as an important bridgehead for projecting American force onto Afghanistan. The 1,strong force at K2 had direct and short access to Afghanistan and the forces of the Northern Alliance, which served as the fighting force in the assault against the Taliban.
The American presence in Uzbekistan and other Central Asian republics was almost universally seen as legitimate in the global response to terrorism. In response, Washington denied any long-term plans for Central Asia. They should stay as long as needed. There appear to have been two key factors informing this position. First, Uzbek leadership had been concerned with Islamic militancy and had consistently asked for international assistance in combating the Islamic threat.
The civil war in Tajikistan and the fall of Kabul to the Taliban in shocked the Uzbek leadership, making them feel vulnerable to Islamic agitation. The civil war in Tajikistan was blamed on Islamic militancy at a time when similar Islamic groups in Uzbekistan were becoming more assertive and challenging the authority of the regime, its official Islamic establishment, and its credentials to represent true Islam.
For the Uzbek leadership, Tajikistan presented a dangerous precedent that needed to be averted. The ascendance of the Taliban in Afghanistan only reconfirmed the threat of Islamic militancy in the minds of the Uzbek leadership.
Uzbekistan and the United States–Friends or Foes? | Middle East Policy Council
As far as the Uzbek leadership was concerned, Islamic militancy threatened to upset the status quo and present a real risk to the regime. Second, the Uzbek leadership had been systematically engaged in burnishing its own nationalist image and was meticulous about distancing itself from the Soviet past. This was a critical project, as the leadership had remained effectively unchanged in its composition and mode of governing. Constructing a nationalist image was, therefore, critical in redefining the leadership and its role in the future of Uzbekistan.
As a result of this campaign, it became incumbent on the Uzbek leadership to present itself as defiant against Russian imperialism. Public-relations blunders by figures like Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who played on Russian nostalgia for imperial greatness, only served the Uzbek leadership and its nationalist counterparts in other Central Asian republics to further entrench themselves in their respective domestic settings as guardians of the national project.
The Uzbek leadership was keenly aware of the domestic mileage it could gain through its posturing against Russia. In the first decade after the collapse of the Soviet Union, these overtures were received with unease in Washington. The removal of the Taliban from power by the U. The effective destruction of the almost single-mindedly anti-Karimov Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan IMU during the American bombing raids on Mazar-eSharif was a tangible manifestation of this gain.
Within months of the September 11 attack and the launch of the War on Terror, Uzbekistan had emerged from the shadows onto the international scene as a key U. The official press in Tashkent called it a sign of international recognition of the wisdom of the Uzbek leadership under President Karimov.
For years, Russians had lamented their declining status as a world power. This sense was especially poignant among the top brass as their army suffered defeat and humiliation at the hands of the Chechen rebels, and Russia was forced to withdraw its border guards from Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan under bilateral agreements.
The Kremlin was acutely aware of its declining authority, and this realization added force to the multilateral approach to regional politics.
Originally known as the Shanghai Forum, the SCO was first convened in to act as a regional confidence-building initiative for former Soviet states Russia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan bordering China. But it soon grew into something much bigger and more significant as both China and Russia capitalized on its potential to act as a regional bulwark against American encroachment into Central Asia.
It was, therefore, only apt for the annual SCO meeting in to be used as a platform to present a united front against continued American military presence in Central Asia.
Uzbekistan’s Newfound Foreign Policy and its Implications for U.S.-Uzbekistan Relations
Uzbekistan does not share a border with China and was not at the initial meetings, but it was invited to attend the June meeting as an observer and formally joined at the July summit.
This timing was significant; it corresponded with cross-border raids by the IMU, which were growing in frequency and audacity. Dealing with Islamic militancy was clearly becoming a high-priority issue for the states involved, including China, which was concerned with cross-border links between its Muslim Uygur population and those living in exile in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. As a result, Uzbek leaders found natural allies in the Shanghai grouping. This feature of Uzbek foreign policy had reached its apogee in Aprilwhen Tashkent withdrew from the CIS Collective Security Treaty after it accused Moscow of using the organization as a hegemonic tool.
Now Uzbek leaders seemed to be leaving themselves open to similar hegemonic pressures, although this might have seemed a manageable risk in comparison with the tangible benefits that the SCO promised in countering the IMU.
President Karimov has made it clear that Uzbekistan has a legitimate claim to regional leadership. This attitude and chronic border disputes between Uzbekistan and its neighbors have caused unease in the region and led to fears of Uzbek hegemonism.
Uzbek leaders could, in effect, pick and choose their international friends. Given the importance of claiming independence from their old masters in Moscow, it is not surprising that they chose to give such prominence to their alliance with Washington. Faced with a fast-changing geostrategic landscape and the apparent reluctance of American forces to leave Uzbekistan, Moscow and Beijing doubled their efforts to turn the SCO into a tangible entity beyond the annual meetings that characterized its early years.
In the same month, Uzbekistan was offered, and accepted, the establishment of a Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure, which had originally been earmarked for Bishkek Kyrgyzstan. By this time, it seemed clear that Tashkent was maintaining two parallel, yet potentially contradictory, security alliances. On the eve of the U. According to the State Department, Tashkent enjoyed a fourfold jump in U. Despite the anti-Russian rhetoric, Uzbek authorities appreciate that Russia is always going to be a key neighbor.
Furthermore, the Russian political leadership— and the Chinese, for that matter— have been accommodating of the closed Uzbek political system.
It was clear that Russia and the United States had different expectations of their allies. The United States prides itself on the promotion of human rights, political openness and economic liberalization. This foreign-policy agenda was overshadowed by security concerns of the post-September 11 era, but Washington never abandoned it in relation to the former Soviet republics. These topics were frequently discussed and were a nagging but managed challenge to U. Uzbek authorities seemed to be able to manage U.
For example, the Uzbek authorities insisted on the inclusion of political reforms in the March U. This was followed by official announcements regarding the abolition of media censorship, which was almost universally seen as a positive consequence of improving bilateral relations. The first sign of trouble came in earlywhen the State Department issued its annual human-rights report to the U.
Senate as part of the foreign-aid ratification process.