USAF to Azerbaijan?

by Nathan Hamm on 8/2/2005 · 6 comments

Baku Today reports that Nezavisimaya Gazeta is reporting (couldn’t find the story) on the possibility of a US airbase in Azerbaijan. The Azeri and Georgian governments have both said on multiple occasions that they have no intention of hosting US bases despite their close and growing military ties (which include the first ever US-Georgia naval exercises currently underway).

I would classify this in the realm of speculation for the time being, but there is an interesting quotation from the spokesman of the Azeri Defense Ministry.

The Azerbaijan Defense Ministry spokesman Ramiz Malikov, commenting on the possibility of moving the base to Azerbaijani territory, told local ANS TV channel that although the issue is of military nature, ‘it is of political importance’.

“The Ministry therefore cannot express its position on the matter. The issue should be addressed on the state level,” he said.

The Deputy Foreign Minister says there have been no “official appeals” on the issue, but I don’t think it is entirely unreasonable to expect to hear more discussion of a possible US airbase in Azerbaijan in the weeks and months to come.

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– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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IJ August 3, 2005 at 11:26 am

Moving the USAF base? From Uzbekistan to Azerbaijan?

Talking of political importance, the EU invited Azerbaijan to join the EU’s European Neighbourhood Policy a year ago. It would perhaps be better, politically, if any airbase in Azerbaijan was under EU command.

Nathan August 3, 2005 at 12:31 pm

For whom?

Azerbaijan already has extremely close military ties with the United States (Caspian Guard, Iraq, etc.). No offense to the EU, but I have a feeling that if Azerbaijan wanted to host a foreign military base, it would want someone who it thinks might be willing to protect it.

IJ August 3, 2005 at 3:30 pm

Thanks for the response.

The EU could not provide Azerbaijan with the security it considers necessary?

This will no doubt disappoint the EU, whose ENP is a model policy for many nations. The EU website says: “The ENP’s objective is to share the benefits of the EU’s 2004 enlargement with neighbouring countries in strengthening stability, security and well-being for all concerned. . . ENP will also help address one of the strategic objectives the European Union set in the European Security Strategy in December 2003, that of building security in our neighbourhood.”

Mark Hamm August 5, 2005 at 3:39 pm

I agree IJ, the EU could provide security to AZ. But they’ve yet to demonstrate that. It’s too bad the statement you qoute above was not operative before the Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo messes.

Nathan August 5, 2005 at 3:45 pm

I think “could” is extremely hard to argue, but “would” is nearly impossible. A NATO base maybe, but I have a hard time seeing the EU proper making the decision to put boots on the ground in Azerbaijan.

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