October 25, 2013 - 17:44 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - World Politics Review published an article of senior fellow at the Hudson Institute Richard Weitz titled “Global Insights: Manas Decision Raises Regional Fears of U.S. Exit From Eurasia.” The article covers Washington’s policy on South Caucasus, among other issues.
“Last Friday, the Pentagon announced that, by next July, all U.S. troops will leave Manas airbase in Kyrgyzstan. The base has served as the most important transit center for U.S. and coalition troops entering and leaving Afghanistan by air, but that role will soon be replaced by a base in Romania,” the World Politics Review article said.
“In particular, the withdrawal decision will likely reinforce perceptions in Central Asia and the South Caucasus that the United States is abandoning these regions. Though that perception is partly true, the U.S. would do well to find ways to counter it to the extent that it is not,” the article said.
“However, other former Soviet republics are less indifferent to the U.S. military withdrawal from Eurasia. In Central Asia, the United States helps dilute the Russian-Chinese condominium that has emerged in the past two decades. In the South Caucasus, Washington is seen as balancing the influence of Russia and Iran, who cooperate on various issues at the other states’ expense. The decision to vacate Manas will reinforce the perception left by the winding down of the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars that the United States will not remain a major military power in Eurasia.”
“Pro-Western forces in the South Caucasus fear the United States will not protect them against either excessive Russian pressure or, in the case of a Western reconciliation with Iran, against Tehran’s retaliation for all the years that they have been supporting sanctions against Iran,” the article said.
“Although more pro-Russian in its policies than Azerbaijan and Georgia, Armenia also wants a strong U.S. role in the region to enhance its bargaining leverage with Moscow and Tehran. At minimal cost, the U.S. could help counter these concerns by increasing U.S. efforts to resolve the so-called frozen conflicts in the South Caucasus. These conflicts have strengthened Russian and Iranian influence in the region and created poorly governed spaces that arms smugglers and other transnational criminal groups exploit," according to Weitz.
In particular, the Obama administration, Weitz says, should step up its efforts to promote a Nagorno Karabakh settlement as a means to prevent any collateral damage to U.S. security and energy interests in Eurasia that would ensue from another war.
“More broadly, however, it will not be easy for the U.S. to reassure its friends in the region. Efforts to more closely integrate the South Caucasus into the Euro-Atlantic security architecture have in all likelihood reached their high-water mark. And Central Asia, though coveted for its energy resources, is a less attractive partner in terms of its performance on human rights and governance. The closing of Manas will almost certainly signal the end of the past decade’s artificially heightened U.S. interest in the two regions. Hopefully Washington will avoid repeating the mistake of subsequently completely neglecting them until urgent security concerns once again emerge there,” the article concludes.