09ASTANA371, KAZAKHSTAN: MEDIA REACTION, FEBRUARY 21-27

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09ASTANA371 2009-02-27 10:47 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Astana

VZCZCXRO4816
OO RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK
RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLH RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHNEH RUEHNP RUEHPOD RUEHPW
RUEHROV RUEHSK RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHTA #0371/01 0581047
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 271047Z FEB 09
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4775
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE 1277
RUCNCLS/ALL SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFAAA/DIA WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC 0838
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC 0754
RHMFIUU/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHDC
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 2179
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 2507

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ASTANA 000371 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR SCA/CEN, SCA/PPD 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PREL EFIN MARR SOCI KPAO KMDR KZ
SUBJECT:  KAZAKHSTAN:  MEDIA REACTION, FEBRUARY 21-27 
 
1.  SUMMARY:  During the week of February 21-27, the Kazakhstani 
media continued to speculate about the regional ramifications of 
Kyrgyzstan's decision to close the Manas airbase, as well as about 
the future of both the U.S. dollar and the Kazakhstani tenge amidst 
the continuing global economic crisis.  Analytical commentators 
focused on U.S.-Russia relations and their effect on Kazakhstan, 
particularly in light of the Kazakhstan's decision to join the CSTO 
joint rapid reaction force.  END SUMMARY. 
 
RUMINATIONS ON A POST-MANAS WORLD 
 
2.  Speculation continued in the local press about a post-Manas 
world after the Kyrgyz parliament's February 19 vote to close the 
base.  Independent "Delovaya Nedelya" was harshly critical of the 
Kyrgyz decision, claiming "it was obvious that he (Bakiyev) sold the 
base" in return for $2 billion from Russia.  The paper opined that 
"Americans now have nowhere to go.  Tajikistan might be open to them 
but Dushanbe is susceptible to Russian influence, and a base close 
to the Afghan border could easily be penetrated by Taliban spies. 
The U.S. can't count on Uzbek President Karimov's loyalty as he 
already closed a base, Turkmenistan cannot host a base on its 
territory due to its policy of neutrality, and Astana will not risk 
its relations with Russia through any step viewed as a possible 
betrayal."  The paper then asserted that Azerbaijan is the most 
probable candidate to host a future U.S. base, but outlined a 
dramatic scenario in which this will ignite a new arms race, 
increase tensions, lead to renewed war between Armenia and 
Azerbaijan, and force Kazakhstani soldiers to fight against their 
Azerbaijani "brothers" as a result of the CSTO agreement recently 
signed in Moscow. "Delovaya Nedelya" placed blame for this 
"pessimistic" post-Manas scenario explicitly on the shoulders of 
Kyrgyz parliamentarians 
 
3.  In less dramatic articles, a second "Delovaya Nedelya" piece and 
pro-government "Komsomolskaya Pravda" speculated that Tajikistan, 
motivated by its painful economic situation, was a likely candidate 
to offer the United States an alternative to Manas, and cited 
pro-NATO Georgia as another possibility.  This "Delovaya Nedelya" 
article argued that Tajikistan has a unique opportunity to seek 
investments from the United States in exchange for assisting with 
the operation in Afghanistan, but noted that pressure from Russia 
was to be expected. 
 
"ARMAGEDDON" IS COMING 
 
4.  Talk of a new "world currency" suggested by President Nazarbayev 
in January has faded somewhat, with local media reporting instead on 
the challenges facing the U.S. dollar. The Kazakhstani government 
also continued to refute rumors that the Kazakhstani tenge will be 
devalued a second time.  Pro-government "Liter" cited increased 
trade conducted in local currencies around the world as "a sign of 
the forthcoming Armageddon of the American dollar" and asserted that 
the "myth" that U.S. bonds are the most reliable is now being laid 
bare.  The article also argued that the fall of the dollar would be 
a blow to developing economies, and opined that "the American 
government continues issuing unsecured dollars to increase 
liquidity, in order to come out of the crisis at the expense of 
others." 
 
AMERICA ISOLATING RUSSIA? 
 
5.  Pro-government Argumenty I Fakti cited negative U.S. actions as 
an explanation for why President Nazarbayev's decision to join the 
CSTO rapid reaction force on February 4 was "timely and pragmatic." 
The article charged that the United States has sought, somewhat 
successfully, to isolate Russia via a "cordon sanitaire" from the 
Baltics to Georgia and to build a negative view of Russia in 
Kazakhstan via "American 'public centers.'"  The Director of the 
Kazakh Institute of Strategic Studies, Bulat Sultanov, stated that 
Kazakhstan, surrounded by economically backward countries and 
possessing a small army, stood to gain from the support offered by 
the regional rapid reaction force. 
 
TO NOMINATE, OR NOT TO NOMINATE? 
 
6.  The opposition-oriented news website www.zonakz.net reported 
that a Chechen organization called "Children of Kazakhstan" is 
collecting signatures to nominate President Nazarbayev for the Nobel 
 
ASTANA 00000371  002 OF 002 
 
 
Peace Prize "for his humanity toward the peoples deported during 
Stalin's regime."  However, the follo
wing day, the opposition 
"Taszhargan" newspaper reported that a cultural center is not, 
according to Nobel rules, eligible to nominate candidates.  The jury 
is therefore still out on the nomination. 
 
HOAGLAND

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