US Ambassadors and Kyrgyzstan: A List of Failures

03.04.2015 Author: Vladimir Odintsov

5319-02-mcfaulAs reported by the New York Times, despite all the statements that US President Barack Obama had previously made, he has signed a “secret” decree at the end of last year that would cancel the withdrawal of American troops stationed in Afghanistan. Moreover, the American military presence in this country is going to be considerably expanded. This decree also enables military troops to conduct operations “against possible threats to US forces or the Afghan government units”, including the Taliban. To this end, the US Air Force is allowed to use fighters, bombers and drones.

Under these circumstances, the country of Kyrgyzstan has once again come into the focus of Washington, due to its desire to maintain military-strategic cooperation with this country, and above all secure the Kirghiz transit center Manas for the Pentagon. Therefore, the White House has renewed its attempts to isolate Kyrgyzstan from Russia’s influence, by preventing it from joining the Customs Union that would make Kyrgyzstan a part of the Eurasian Economic space. This fact has been openly admitted by Pamela Spratlen before she left Kyrgyzstan, where she spent three years as a US ambassador amid a fruitless attempt to undermine Russia’s influence in this country.

Washington chose Richard Monroe Miles as her temporary replacement. He was sent to Bishkek last February. A retired diplomat, Miles is known as a master-engineer of “color revolutions” and ” government coups”, since he succeeded in this role in a number of East European countries. Upon his arrival in Kyrgyzstan, he began promoting a number of different “democratic projects”, but to this date he hasn’t been successful in fomenting a “revolutionary transformation of Kyrgyzstan.” Out of a wide variety of his beloved “scenarios” Miles suggested to focus on the “democratization” of Kyrgyzstan by altering its official position on sexual minorities, since the United States has already condemned the so-called “anti-gay” law that was passed by the Parliament of Kyrgyzstan in Autumn of 2014.

According to this old veteran’s master plan, his “efforts” should be carried on by Sheila Gwaltney, who is known for her ardent support of gay love. Sheila should replace Miles as the new US ambassador to Bishkek in the near future. It is known that Sheila Gwaltney was born in California and that she’s fluent in Russian, Ukrainian and Spanish. She was first employed by the State Department in 1984, and went on diplomatic missions to Panama, South Africa, Russia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan. Her career has been a success in the State Department, since she has managed to become the Deputy Director of the Office on Russian Affairs and a Special Assistant to the Under Secretary for Political Affairs.

In 1999-2001 Sheila worked at the US Embassy in Bishkek as the deputy head of the US diplomatic mission. In 2004, that was marked by the “Orange Revolution” in Ukraine. She was appointed deputy ambassador to Kiev and later on she was transferred to Russia. In 2007-2008, Sheila Gwaltney headed the US Consulate General in St. Petersburg. It’s curious that when the US former ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul unexpectedly resigned, she replaced him temporarily before the arrival of the new ambassador. In the months of her diplomatic mission in Moscow she has become a messenger of a new Cold War, since bilateral relationships between the US and Russia were seriously undermined in this short period.

During her stay, Sheila Gwaltney was working in close contact with all sorts of opposition members, so one could have bet that on her future mission to Kyrgyzstan she would be quite a threat to stability. At the end of last year, before her departure from Russia, Sheila Gwaltney gave an interview to Forbes, stating that she was extremely disappointed with the deterioration of the “human rights situation in Russia in recent years, in the fields of freedom of the press and respect for the rights of sexual minorities”. It’s curious that in this particular interview she stated that the growth of an anti-American mood in Russia is the direct result “anti-American propaganda,” and not the destructive nature of US foreign policy.

Therefore, it is clear that in Kyrgyzstan she will make every effort to derail the adoption of laws that are similar to the ones that have recently been passed in Russia, that would ban gay propaganda and foreign agents from the country. Even before arriving to Kyrgyzstan, she was caught in the middle of a scandal, since the local authorities were reluctant to let her into the country in response to the refusal of the US State Department to issue a visa to the former Prosecutor General of Kyrgyzstan Aida Salyanova.

But still it is highly unlikely that this diplomat would succeed in Kyrgyzstan, since her predecessors have already employed all possible means to secure the control of the transit center Manas, but did not even manage to win over the former Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who has neglected relations with Moscow in favor of Washington in Bishkek’s foreign policy. However, all the diplomatic efforts and countless paychecks provided to local NGOs by the US have not paid off, resulting in Bishkek taking a U-turn by refusing to be “protected” by a US air base, while retaining a Russian military contingent on its territory. The restoration of its ties with Russia has resulted in the widespread support of Kyrgyz science and energy sectors, economics, national security, and arms supplies.

After losing the Manas military base, Gwaltney’s predecessors left her with a newly constructed building at the US Embassy – a huge mansion with countless underground floors. It’s unclear what purpose such a palace would serve US diplomacy. Gwaltney would also inherit a long list of US diplomatic failures, the most acute among which is the failure to understand that after the events of 2010, the people of Kyrgyzstan would stomp out any instigators of a new revolution, leaving the sitting government in Bishkek far from being convinced that Washington actually wants to “make friends” with Kyrgyzstan.

Vladimir Odintsov, political commentator, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.