The on-again, off-again relationship between the US and Kyrgyzstan appears to be on once again, as US officials stolidly refused to comment on brutal police action in the post-Soviet state. State Department officials cited Uzbek expulsion of our bases after a strongly-worded statement against their police practices. Clearly the US would not relish the loss of yet another Central Asian ‘ally’.
Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan have all been loyal (if not always obedient) US allies after the loss of their Soviet patron, and the state department considers their military cooperation critical to our efforts in Afghanistan. Thus, bygones will be bygones – at least until their assistance is no longer required. Kyrgyzstan, in particular, has attempted to play both sides this year, announcing total closure of US bases in Februrary followed by a quick redaction in March. Evidently the Kyrgyzstani government is angling for a US-commitment to its regime stability, an outcome which, if it continues to play its cards correctly, it should likely receive.
As with all diplomatic maneuvers in the region, there is an oily bottom to our dealings with that slimy government. The Central Asian oil pipeline runs through the aforementioned countries in addition to Afghanistan (surely our only interest in that godforsaken desert). With resource scarcity becoming an undeniable fact, it would appear that free-flowing oil trumps human rights any day of the week. Not that one need look any further than Iraq for evidence.
A bidding war for these countries between the West and Russia-China appears likely. Russia has already shown its proclivity for pipeline dominance with its annual shutoff of natural gas to Europe (now three years running). In light of these considerations, a few ignored beatings is surely the least the US can do.