| 29 May 2024, Wednesday |

No Plan to Host Foreign Bases on Uzbek Soil, MoD Says Amid Reports of US Afghan Troop Redeployment

The withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan that kicked off on 1 May was followed by media reports of US plans to redeploy the American forces’ Afghan contingent.

Uzbekistan’s defence doctrine does not stipulate the deployment of foreign military bases in the country, the press service of the Uzbek Defence Ministry said on Monday, when asked to comment on reports about the US looking for options to redeploy its Afghan contingent after the American troops withdraw from the South Asian nation.

“The fundamental documents in the field of defence have clear-cut answers to these questions, warning against the deployment of foreign military bases and facilities on Uzbek territory”, a Defence Ministry spokesperson said, adding that this principle is part of the country’s Constitution and a foreign policy concept.
The spokesperson also underlined that Uzbekistan’s defence policy is based on the principle of non-participation in peacekeeping operations and military conflicts abroad.

The statement came after The Wall Street Journal cited unnamed government and military officials as saying late last week that the US would “prefer” to redeploy troops and equipment leaving Afghanistan into Uzbekistan or Tajikistan, two of the three ex-Soviet republics bordering the war-torn country to its north.
At the same time, the sources admitted that Russia’s alleged military presence in the region and Chinas growing influence there “complicate plans” for any US deployments in Central Asia.

The White House started working to bolster security ties with Tajikistan and Uzbekistan in the wake of the breakup of the Soviet Union in late 1991.

Washington rotated some 7,000 US troops at the Karshi-Khanabad airfield in southern Uzbekistan between 2001 and 2005, forces that were then redeployed to the Manas Air Base in Kyrgyzstan. US service personnel vacated the base in 2014, in line with a 2011 decree by then-Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev.

As for the 2,500 US troops in Afghanistan, President Joe Biden announced plans to withdraw the forces from the South Asian country in mid-April, underscoring that the reasons for staying in Afghanistan had “become increasingly unclear”, and that the US had “accomplished all that we can militarily”.

The troops are slated to leave Afghanistan by 11 September, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, meaning the withdrawal will miss a 1 May deadline that the Trump administration had established in a 2020 peace deal with the Taliban.
The American military has lost more than 2,300 soldiers in Afghanistan since the invasion of the country in 2001, following reports of Taliban militants sheltering al-Qaeda* leader Osama bin Laden, thought to be behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

On 2 May 2011, bin Laden was killed in a US Navy SEAL raid in an upscale neighbourhood in Pakistan, and reportedly buried at sea off the deck of a US aircraft carrier.

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