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How Long Will Port Aktau Serve as Transit Point for NATO?

How Long Will Port Aktau Serve as Transit Point for NATO?
Каzbek Bejsbaev 08.05.2013

Source: socialismkz.info

Public speech of the president of Kazakhstan N. Nazarbayev at the conference of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Istanbul Trial on Afghanistan appeared in the center of attention of first of all the Russian mass media and experts as well as of the foreign ones. If to be more exact, his phrase: "Now we are going to expand transit potential for NATO freights at the expense of the Caspian port Aktau".

At first sight, Kazakhstan which actively participates in settlement of the Afghan problem, decides independently what to do and what transport centre to present for transit of armies and military freights of NATO. There were no questions concerning transit transportations planned on the territories of Kazakhstan before the statement was made. For example, the French will use airport Shymkent on the basis of the intergovernmental agreement on ensuring transit of military property and personnel through the territory of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

It is necessary to make short excursion to the history of the Caspian Sea to understand why sovereign decision of the sovereign state about seaport Aktau excited neighbors.

Till 1991 the Caspian Sea was the sea of only two states: the USSR and Iran. Legal regime was established by the Soviet-Iranian contracts signed in 1921 and 1940. Problems on differentiation of the sea, use of subsurface, ecology and so on between Caspian states appeared after disintegration of the Soviet Union. Though they still haven’t been settled, but, nevertheless, negotiations proceed. As a whole, it is possible to tell that negotiation process is in inertly current mode. At the same time, each state owing to its opportunities increases the Navies. It should be noted that potential and fighting capacity of the Russian Caspian sea flotilla in all respects surpass the Navies of all other countries. All this as a whole allows to keep certain stability on the Caspian Sea.

One more important question - relations between the USA and Iran. Both Washington and Tehran treat each other as sworn enemies. All events in the Middle East region go through a prism of this opposition. Some experts already predict transition of this opposition into more active phase or, in other words, to full-scale war. If to look at the map, you can see that Iran shares borders with Azerbaijan, Armenia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and with Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Oman through Omani and Persian Gulfs.

All these listed above countries, except Turkmenistan, are allies of the USA. The Arab countries of the gulf have serious contradictions with Tehran on religious basis. It is known that the Iranians are Shiites, while the Arabs are generally Sunnites. There are territorial problems between the United Arab Emirates and Iran. Friction between Iran and Azerbaijan are connected with the ethnic Azerbaijani making 18% from nearly 78 million population of Islamic Republic of Iran.

However, despite all this the USA for the present hasn’t managed to use allies against Iran. Falling of Saddam Hussein’s mode allowed to come nearer to Iran from the south, but situation there only worsened as a result of invasion of the Americans, at the same time future of Iraq is not clear in connection with possible independence of Kurdistan.

If to look at the decision of Kazakhstan to use possibilities of Aktau port for transit of NATO armies and property from the point of view what was stated, a number of logical questions appear.

First of all, by a strange coincidence, the statement about Aktau was made after visit of the Assistant of the U.S. Secretary of State for the Southern and Central Asia Robert Blake to Astana.

Secondly, if agreement with the French about Chimkent was made in advance, why they didn't do the same with the Americans?

Thirdly, if port Aktau will be used for long? According to last information, the Americans aren't going to leave Afghanistan completely and, quite possibly, some military bases will be left. It’s possible that these military bases can appear in the former Soviet republics of Central Asia.

The last thing. Appearance of some foreign armed forces even temporary in the Caspian Sea violate fragile status quo. It is unambiguous that this step of Astana won't be welcomed by strategic partner - Russia. It’s easy to guess reaction of Iran to appearance of sworn enemy in the north, from where it has never expected. Some Russian experts already assume that temporary military base of the USA in Aktau will be included in the scenario of possible aggression against Iran, it’s only matter of time.

If acсording to genre the gun casually fires, the answer from Iran will be corresponding … …. Iran possesses own ballistic missiles Shahab 3 which range of action reaches 2,5 thousand kilometers, while the length of the Caspian Sea is 1,2 thousand kilometers ….

Certainly, it is possible to call what was said conjectures and even nonsense. So that such thoughts don’t appear, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Defence have to give definite and clear answer to citizens to two questions: How long will port Aktau serve as transit point for armies of NATO and the USA? What is the reaction of other Caspian states to this step, if all of them including Kazakhstan adhered to uniform position concerning foreign military presence?

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