Kazakh senate rejects sending soldiers to Afghanistan

June 09. M&C. Astana

Kazakh senate rejects sending soldiers to AfghanistanKazakhstan’s senate on Thursday rejected a proposal to send four Kazakh officers to serve with NATO-led forces in Afghanistan, but a new vote on the controversial measure could come in late June.

Last month, the Central Asian country’s lower house approved the deployment, which requires the support of the upper house and the president to take effect.

Taliban officials said after the lower house’s approval that if the deployment occurred, they would target Kazakhstan, which is heavily Muslim and is home to ethnic minorities with historic ties to Afghanistan.

The lower house on May 18 approved the deployment for non-combat jobs in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

‘Right now the US is thinking about how to get its troops out of Afghanistan,’ said senate deputy Svetlana Zhalmagambetova before the upper house voted to reject the measure.

‘Is it worth it to ruin our reputation as a peaceful country at the very last moment of the war?’ she said, according to the Interfax news agency.

The proposal has sparked a wide-ranging discussion in Kazakh society and media, which are normally tightly controlled by the regime of President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Energy-rich Kazakhstan has attempted to take a neutral position between Russia, the US, and China, all of which are pushing to increase their influence in Central Asia.

Astana in 2010 approved the movement of NATO lorry convoys through its territory to deliver supplies to IASF forces in northern Afghanistan, but Kazakhstan’s military cooperates most closely with Russia.