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Article by Scott Radnitz: Deeper US Engagement with Uzbekistan Stymied by Changing US Priorities, Russian Wariness

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman meets with members of the Uzbekistan media in Tashkent, October 4, 2021.

October 27, 2021

“After a long hiatus, Uzbekistan is back on U.S. radar screens following visits by U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, a Congressional delegation and various Defense Department officials to Tashkent. These officials have been engaged in discussions about the pressing need for American “eyes and ears” on the ground to conduct counter-terrorism operations in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. Longtime observers of Central Asia can be forgiven for having a sense of déjà vu, as U.S. interest in the region waxes and wanes in response to geopolitical developments. The current moment resembles the period after 9/11, when the U.S. opened military bases in Uzbekistan and the Kyrgyz Republic to support operations in Afghanistan. However, much has changed since the Karshi-Khanabad air base in Uzbekistan was shut down in 2005. Despite its geographic centrality, Uzbekistan is not considered by U.S. policy makers as vital to American interests, and deeper engagement is limited by changing U.S. priorities and Russian wariness.”

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