As first reported here on July 8, relations between Washington and Tashkent
finally boiled over after evidence that Pentagon special operations teams were
involved in the Islamist revolt against President Islam Karimov's government
in the town of Andijan on May 17. On July 29, Tashkent formally evicted the
United States from its airbase at Karshi-Khanabad, also known as "K2."
The Pentagon was given 180 days to evacuate all personnel, aircraft, and equipment
from the base, which had been used by the United States since the Afghan war
broke out following 911. The State Department was apparently blindsided by the
abrupt Uzbek decision. It planned to send a diplomat to Tashkent on August 2
to negotiate the base's future. However, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had
already decided to scrap K2 after he secured continued basing rights in Kyrgyzstan
and Tajikistan. The Uzbek media has been abuzz with revelations that
Pentagon special operations teams secretly met in Afghanistan with Tohir Yoldashev
and members of his Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), a group the U.S. State
Department considers a terrorist organization allied to "Al Qaeda."
The meetings were reported to have occurred before and after the Andijan revolt,
which was blamed on IMU forces. The US-IMU meetings in Afghanistan were also
referenced in an article in Asia Times by India's former ambassador to Uzbekistan
and Turkey, M. K. Bhadrakumar.
The Uzbek government obviously believes the Pentagon has been dealing
with terrorist groups and decided to deny the Americans a base from which they
might be using to foment Islamist terrorist operations in Uzbekistan and in
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