Kazakhstan–United States relations

Kazakhstan–United States relations
Kazakhstan–American relations
Map indicating locations of Kazakhstan and USA


United States

Kazakhstan – United States relations largely came into play after the September 11, 2001 attacks as the United States sought strategic partners near Afghanistan, and later near Iraq, nations whose governments aided and abetted terrorism in both Kazakhstan and the United States. Counter-terrorism plays an increasingly important role in Kazakhstan's relations with the United States and the United Kingdom,[1] which are at an all time high.[2] Kazakhstan has taken Uzbekistan's place as the favored partner in Central Asia for both Russia and the United States in the New Great Game.[3][4][5][6]


Response to the September 11, 2001 attacks

Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev with U.S. President George W. Bush

After the September 11, 2001 attacks, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev sent a message to U.S. President George W. Bush expressing "indignation about terrorist acts that resulted in loss of numerous lives." The "civilized community must unite and take effective measures to fight international terrorism. All the Kazakhstan people sympathize with the American people in their grief and mourn aver [sic] the tragedy."[7]

According to the Center for Defense Information, the Kazakh government has been "extremely supportive [of] the U.S.-led war against terrorism." The government offered the use of a major airport for Operation Enduring Freedom. Over 800 U.S. flights over Kazakh territory were approved and went ahead. CDI's profile of Kazakhstan credits security forces for "step[ing] up efforts to protect U.S. government facilities and oil facilities with U.S. private investment" and pledging to "freeze the assets of terrorists identified on the U.S. designated terrorist asset-freeze list." The U.S. officially gave the Kazakh government USD $52.893 million in 2002, $47 million in 2003, and $36.2 million in 2004.[8] In addition, U.S. Government agencies spent $92 million in assistance programs in Kazakhstan in 2003.[9]

In a speech given on December 19, 2001 at the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council during the Defence Ministers session, Mukhtar Altynbayev, the Kazakh Minister of Defense and General of the Kazakh Army, said the attacks "demonstrated that international terrorism has no borders and represents a threat to all the world community." He reaffirmed Kazakhstan's will to fight terrorism and the need to "punish" terrorists and their sponsors. Addressing the possibility, raised by NATO experts, of using Kazakh airfields for counterterrorist operations, he said there were "other practical issues under consideration," but that Kazakhstan would commit to providing humanitarian assistance to Afghans.[7]

On September 11, 2006, the fifth anniversary of the attacks, the Astana Congress issued a Declaration on Religion, Society and International Security, promoting working "together to tackle and ultimately eliminate prejudice, ignorance and misrepresentation of other religions. These common views include the condemnation of terrorism on the basis that justice can never be established through fear and bloodshed and that the use of such means is a violation and betrayal of any faith that appeals to human goodness and dialogue." President Nazarbayev said at the conference, "An ideology of tolerance and dialogue must confront the ideology of terrorism. The global nature of interfaith contradictions and religious dialogue allows us to think that (the) U.N. will declare one of the following years (the) International Year of Religious and Cultural Tolerance. We should endeavor best efforts in order to root out ideology of terrorism and maintain material values of humanism... There hardly exists something in the world comparable to potential of religion."[10]

Guantanamo Bay detainees

Three Kazakh citizens, Yaqub Abahanov, Abdulrahim Kerimbakiev, and Abdallah Tohtasinovich Magrupov, all born in Semey, are held in extrajudicial detention in the United States' Guantanamo Bay detainment camp, in Cuba for alleged ties to the Taliban. Additionally, Uzbek citizen and Guantánamo captive Ilkham Turdbyavich Batayev's birthplace is Abaye, Kazakhstan.[11]

Idrisov-Rushailo declaration

Foreign Minister Yerlan Idrisov told journalists in Almaty on 18 September 2001, seven days after the September 11 attacks in New York City, New York that Kazakhstan and Russia are "ready for close cooperation with the United States in combating extremism." The statement came after President Nazarbayev, Russian Security Council Secretary Vladimir Rushailo, and the heads of Kazakh law enforcement bodies finished negotiations in security cooperation. The meeting and Secretary Rushailo's overall tour through Central Asia were a response to the attacks in New York and the now acknowledged threat of international terrorism and extremism originating from the area.[12]

In October 2001 United States Senators Sam Brownback and Mary Landrieu said Kazakhstan is "ready for the United States to engage on the topic of terrorism."[13]

United States air bases

In 2002 a Chinese diplomat accused the United States Government of trying to secure a defunct air base, originally used by the Soviet Union specifically for theoretical military operations against China, near Semey in eastern Kazakhstan. A high-ranking Kazakh Defense Ministry official said the U.S. Government, as part of its anti-terrorism operations in Central Asia, had requested the use of military bases in Taraz and Taldykorgan. Ibragim Alibekov, a journalist for Radio Free Europe, characterized President Nursultan Nazarbayev's support for the "anti-terrorism campaign" as cautious and "hesitant on the implementation of concrete cooperation measures."[14] However, the National Conference on Soviet Jewry applauds Kazakhstan for playing "a vital role in U.S.-led efforts to combat international terrorism."[15] President Bush called Kazakhstan a "strategic partner of the United States in Central Asia" and said the United States wanted to expand anti-terrorism cooperation.[16]

Alleged U.S. attempts to acquire bases were criticized by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, who said such actions were unjustifiable, and Russian State Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznev.[14]

An anonymous expert within the Kazakh Defense Ministry said that "of all the assistance [Kazakhstan] can offer towards military counter-terrorism operations—allowing use of our airfields, opening air corridors and sharing intelligence information—the last would be the least risky for Kazakhstan. Allowing the use of airfields means going into direct confrontation with the Taliban, and that is not a good scenario in our situation." An anonymous, high-ranking Foreign Ministry official said "the influx of refugees" created by U.S. airstrikes in Afghanistan "is one problem, but the greater problem is that terrorists and militants might flee northward disguised as civilians." Professor Murat Abdirov, director of the International Relations Institute of Eurasian University, said, "Kazakhstan cannot stay away from the international anti-terrorism coalition, but we should proceed with caution."[13]

The Kazakh government did offer the use of a major airport for military operations[8], but three years later, with U.S. military operations against the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan continuing, General John Abizaid, head of U.S. Central Command, said on 3 May 2005 that the United States did not "expect to open a military base in Kazakhstan unless a tense situation emerges in the region, under which the Kazakh government requests the U.S. armed forces to do so."[17]

Secretary of State visits

United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited Kazakhstan on 12 -13 October 2005. Secretary Rice met with Nazarbayev, opposition Chairman Zharmakhan Tuyakbay, and opposition leader Alikhan Baimenov in Astana. Nazarbayev told the press that he and Rice "noted with satisfaction our cooperation in the fight against terrorism. Peace became so fragile that such evils as terrorism, drug addiction and AIDS can be fought only through joint efforts." Rice applauded Nazarbayev's foreign policy and called Kazakhstan an "island of stability" in Central Asian and a "key partner of the U.S. in strengthening stability and security." She also thanked the President for its contributions to the invasion of Iraq, which Rice referred to as proof of "high level cooperation in the field of security and [the] fight against terrorism."

Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger arrived in Astana on 15 October, just two days after Rice's visit, and he also met with Nazarbayev. Kissinger said he beliebed the U.S. had a "good understanding with Kazakhstan [on] security... The fact that high ranked officials have regularly been visiting Kazakhstan lately shows that [the United States Government is] keen to broaden this cooperation."[18]

Kazakh journalists visit to Los Angeles

Sabir Kairkhanov, editor-in-chief of Ak Zhaiyk, Botagoz Akzholovna Seidakhmetova, international news editor of Novoye Pokoleniye, and Dossym Satpayev, director of Assessment Risks Group, an NGO which publishes Kazakhstan Risk Review visited the University of California, Los Angeles on 1 August as part of a three week tour of the U.S. in an attempt to gain insight on the War on Terrorism. They met with political science and economics professor Michael Intriligator who told the delegation about the possibility of terrorist attacks targeting the U.S. Navy. The journalists noted that in Kazakhstan new courses about terrorism have been added to universities' curricula and Urban terrorism, a book mostly about terrorists in Almaty, has been published. They also discussed the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.[19]

The visitors all ranked Al Qaeda as the 8th greatest terrorist-danger in Kazakhstan. Professor Intriligator said it is "absolutely premature to say that we have won the War against Terrorism. We are not any safer now than we were before September 11."[19]

See also


  1. ^ Running A Huge Risk Center for Defense Information
  2. ^ Joint Statement Between the United States of America and the Republic of Kazakhstan The White House
  3. ^ Boris Shiryayev, Großmächte auf dem Weg zur neuen Konfrontation?. Das „Great Game“ am Kaspischen Meer: eine Untersuchung der neuen Konfliktlage am Beispiel Kasachstan, Verlag Dr. Kovac: Hamburg 2008
  4. ^ Five Years After 9/11: Crackdowns loom behind Central Asia's War On Terror RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty
  5. ^ Kazakhstan: President looks to build on alliance with Putin RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty
  6. ^ U.S. envoy touts Kazakhstan's post-Soviet advances SignOnSanDiego
  7. ^ a b Statement by Colonel General M.K. Altynbayev, Minister of Defense of the Republic of Kazakhstan, at the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council in Defence Ministers session North Atlantic Treaty Organization
  8. ^ a b Kazakhstan, U.S. Military Assistance Prior to Sept. 11, 2001 Center for Defense Information
  9. ^ U.S. Assistance to Kazakhstan - Fiscal Year 2003 U.S. Department of State
  10. ^ Use Religion To Fight Terrorism Says Kazakhstan President Space War
  11. ^ OARDEC (May 15, 2006). "List of Individuals Detained by the Department of Defense at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba from January 2002 through May 15, 2006" (PDF). United States Department of Defense. http://www.dod.mil/news/May2006/d20060515%20List.pdf. Retrieved 2007-09-29. 
  12. ^ Kazakhstan, Russia ready for close cooperation with USA in combating extremism Pravda
  13. ^ a b Kazakhstan tries to balance disparate interests Eurasia Net
  14. ^ a b Kazakhstan Under Pressure To Choose One Strategic Partner EurasiaNet
  15. ^ Kazakhstan Country Page National Conference on Soviet Jewry
  16. ^ U.S. Reviewing Options in Central Asia Eurasia Daily Monitor
  17. ^ No U.S. Base in Kazakhstan– Central Command Chief MOSNEWS
  18. ^ Official visit of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Kazakhstan Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan in India
  19. ^ a b Kazakhstan journalists gather information on war against terrorism UCLA International Institute

External links

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