16.03.2023 Author: Vladimir Platov

Why is the White House urgently changing US ambassadors to Central Asia?

US ambassadors to Central Asia

In hopes of further spinning its geopolitical project of establishing a “belt of instability” around Russia, the Biden administration has recently started to place a special emphasis on working with the countries of Central Asia, seeking to turn these “five” into puppet states wholly dependent on the United States. For this purpose, since the end of last year, Washington has urgently been changing personnel in the American diplomatic corps, its controlled commercial enterprises, non-governmental organizations, and among media representatives. It is noteworthy that mostly controversial, fringe personalities with distinct military skills have been sent to work in the five Central Asian countries.

Speaking of the latest emergency reshuffle of some US ambassadors, what comes to mind is the recent replacement by the White House of US Ambassador John Mark Pommersheim, who had worked in Tajikistan for less than three years and was one of the “best experts” on Russia in 2019, an intellectual father of a large family and a Pushkinist. In his stead, on February 14, the “new energetic” Manuel P. Micaller, Jr. arrived in Dushanbe, not as a diplomat, but as a military/intelligence officer with experience in conducting offensive economic operations in the interests of the United States, particularly opposing and discouraging economic cooperation between Central Asian nations and Russia and China.

In December, the newly appointed US ambassador to Kyrgyzstan, Lesslie C. Viguerie, presented copies of his credentials to the Kyrgyz authorities. Washington’s “special interest” in the country became quite apparent after the Pentagon, at the initiative of the Kyrgyz authorities, lost control of the transit center at Manas airport in 2014 and over Afghanistan in 2021. After that, the White House adopted an unconcealed policy of actively separating Kyrgyzstan from Russia and preventing the country’s participation in regional associations such as the EAEU and the SCO, both of which Washington particularly hates. Representatives of various administrations and US ambassadors have repeatedly acknowledged this before.

The new US ambassador Lesslie C. Viguerie makes no secret of such a sentiment, who, relying on the Russophobic fifth column of US-funded media and NGOs already established in Kyrgyzstan, started organizing another “color revolution” in the country and inciting anti-Russian sentiment among the local populace. This was in particular confirmed by another information war unleashed on March 6 against Russia and Russian Ambassador to Kazakhstan, Nikolay Udovichenko, in Vecherniy Bishkek newspaper closely connected to the US Embassy through the US Agency for International Development (USAID). It is not for nothing that this newspaper has recently received American awards “for promotion of democratic values.” In fact, Lesslie C. Viguerie did not even try to hide his anti-Russian attitude, as he said in his first post-appointment interview to the local newspaper 24.kg that his main task was to stir up Russophobia in the country.

However, as residents of Kyrgyzstan note, it cannot be ruled out that such zealous anti-Russian activity by Viguerie could lead him to repeating the fate of his predecessor, American Ambassador Donald Lu, who was forced to leave Bishkek without a replacement in 2021. The activity of Mr. Lu, which was quite distant from diplomatic methods of work in the sovereign state and his “strange” ties with the American intelligence community, are well remembered in this republic. WikiLeaks made public nearly 200 dispatches which were disclosed by unknown hackers stating that while Lu was in different diplomatic posts he sent classified dispatches to such organizations as CIA, DIA, National Security Council and other similar agencies.

As for the new ambassador, Lesslie C. Viguerie, local news sources mention his connections with the American secret services specializing in drug trafficking and political affairs. Therefore, it is not surprising that Viguerie is especially active in Kyrgyzstan to protect Western-funded NGOs and media in the country, clearly in order to create conditions for a repeat of the Ukrainian Maidan, recent events in Georgia and the anti-Russian movement.

Not much different from the aforementioned new US ambassadors to Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan is Jonathan Henick, who began a similar role in Uzbekistan in November. Previously at the State Department’s Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs (SCA), he was responsible for conducting US public diplomacy in 13 countries, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India. While working at the Global Engagement Center (GEC), he was actively involved in “coordinating US government efforts to counter Russia, China, and Iran.”

As one of his active areas of advocacy for US interests in Muslim Uzbekistan, Henick decided to advance the protection of the rights of LGBTQI+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex), religious minorities and women. As Henick stated, “I will be an LGBT advocate in the host country. We have to teach the local population about free relationships. The people of Uzbekistan must accept our ideas.” — A truly “progressive way” to implement the White House’s Russophobic policies.

The information-psychological war was also started by Henick’s predecessor, Daniel Rosenblum, who now heads the American diplomatic mission in Kazakhstan. Daniel Rosenblum makes no secret of his objectives in his “new residence,” declaring the necessity to not only eliminate the pro-Russian media which allegedly “forms a distorted perception of the world,” but also to find alternative ways of transportation of oil products from Kazakhstan bypassing Russia.  At the same time, Rosenblum demonstrated his determination to defend the interests of the US-funded Central Reference Laboratory in Almaty, which is associated with bioweapons. In recent period alone, in Kazakhstan, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) implemented 28 American biological programs with a total budget not less than 20 million dollars, and spent more than 100 million dollars for construction and equipping of the Central Reference Laboratory (CRL). Of particular interest to NATO countries for secret research here are Central Asia-specific diseases that are dangerous to humans, as well as methods of their transmission by animals or other routes. The US, British and German defense agencies need such information in case they are preparing a war with the CSTO or SCO countries, in order to start in advance developing biological weapons corresponding to regional peculiarities. And this data can only be obtained through field research, for which the CRL provides capabilities. In addition, the CRL can perform for the Pentagon the same functions as the Guantánamo Bay prison, as it is a place where one can do things that cannot be done on US territory because of legal restrictions. During the period when the infectious disease laboratory was located in Kazakhstan, it came under the de facto control of the US Army and Navy, despite the formal subordination to the Ministry of Health of Kazakhstan. Thus, in fact, the CRL with all of its related structures turned into an unregistered military base of the United States and NATO in Kazakhstan, and this is the best explanation of Rosenblum’s zeal in protecting the interests of the American CRL in this country.

In light of all this, it is noteworthy that President Biden appointed Elizabeth Rood as the United States’ ambassador to Turkmenistan in late 2022. Rood combined her training at the Noble Maidens’ Boarding School with close ties to the American military. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Randolph-Macon College for Women. In particular, she has served as a faculty advisor to the US Army War College and as head of the US Department of State’s Office of Export Control Cooperation in the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation.

This bouquet of US diplomacy in Central Asia speaks volumes about the upcoming focus in the region. The only thing left to do is to monitor closely the reaction of the local population to these “doodles” of the White House, which can hardly promise a successful policy of “American-style democracy promotion.” Even despite Secretary Blinken’s recently demonstrated attempt to support the new appointees during his February 28 meeting in Astana with his Central Asian counterparts.

Vladimir Platov, expert on the Middle East, exclusively for the online journal “New Eastern Outlook.

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