The United States may transfer troops being withdrawn from Afghanistan to the countries of Central Asia, the Wall Street Journal newspaper writes, citing sources.
The publication notes that Washington needs bases to accommodate not only military personnel but also drones, bombers, and artillery to support Kabul and deter militants of the radical Taliban movement. According to representatives of the US government and the Pentagon, the neighboring countries of Central Asia, the Persian Gulf states, and individual Navy ships are considered as possible places for future deployment of troops.
According to some military officials and representatives of the administration of US President Joe Biden, it would be best to deploy troops in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, which border Afghanistan. This way, the military would be able to quickly get into the country if necessary. However, the sources stressed that the transfer of troops to these countries would not be easy due to the “large military presence” of Russia in the region and the growing influence of China.
The US Special Representative for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, visited Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in May, where he discussed the situation in their neighboring country. According to the newspaper’s sources, Tashkent and Dushanbe expressed their reluctance to spread violence and expressed concern about the current situation.
Unnamed officials also told the newspaper that there have been no requests to deploy troops to any bases in Central Asia, and the US Defense Ministry is now weighing the pros and cons. The State Department and the White House are also involved in making the decision.
According to the publication, the United States previously had two bases in Central Asia: one each in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan; both of them were used to deploy forces and conduct operations in Afghanistan. The US left the base in Uzbekistan in 2005 and in Kyrgyzstan almost a decade later.
Despite the deterioration of Washington’s relations with Moscow and Beijing, the states, according to officials in the United States and several other countries, share the United States ‘ interest in ensuring stability in the region. In Central Asia, in turn, they want to create a counterweight to the influence of Russia and China, the newspaper writes.
According to the publication, the withdrawal of American troops may be completed in July.
Earlier, the US administration announced that by the first of May it will begin and by the eleventh of September it will complete the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan in full coordination with the allies. In 2020, the United States and representatives of the radical Taliban movement signed the first peace agreement in Doha in more than 18 years of war. It provides for the withdrawal of foreign troops from the Middle East state in 14 months and the beginning of an inter-Afghan dialogue after the exchange of prisoners. Since the signing of the agreement, the Taliban has repeatedly accused Washington of violating the agreement.