The regime of Islam Karimov in Uzbekistan, heretofore attempting to play both sides in the Great Game between Moscow and Washington, appears to have finally and decisively thrown in its lot with the former. From Pakistan’s Daily Times, via AFP July 31:
US military evicted from Uzbek air base
WASHINGTON — Uzbekistan has formally evicted the US from a military base that has served as a hub for its combat operations in Afghanistan, The Washington Post reported on Saturday.
Citing unnamed Pentagon and State Department officials, the newspaper reported the notice of eviction from Karshi-Khanabad air base, known as K2, was delivered by a courier from the Uzbek Foreign Ministry to the US Embassy in Tashkent on Friday. Uzbekistan will give the United States 180 days to move aircraft, personnel and equipment, according to the report. The Post said the US would face several logistical problems for its operations in Afghanistan, if the decision was acted upon. Karshi-Khanabad has been a landing base to transfer humanitarian goods that are then taken by road into Afghanistan, particularly to Mazar-i-Sharif — with no alternative for a region difficult to reach in the winter, the report said. K2 is also a refueling base with a runway long enough for large military aircraft, the paper pointed out. Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita said the US military does not depend on one base in any part of the world.
Now, who wants to take bets: will Karimov be destabilized by a new outburst of unrest before those 180 days are out?
See our last post on the Great Game.