On July 29, 2005, President Islam Karimov ordered the U.S. military facility at Karshi-Khanabad (K2), Uzbekistan to close down within 180 days. It now appears virtually certain that U.S. forces will leave by January 2006. In September 2005, Karimov went further, declaring he would end all security cooperation with the United States in the war on terror, a complete turnaround for a leader who had been a close U.S. ally since September 11.
Why did Karimov make this choice, and what impact will the base closure have on both immediate and long-term U.S. security interests in Central Asia?While the popular press has portrayed Karimov’s actions as a response to fear over U.S. pressure on human rights questions, that explanation does not square well with the facts. [...]