Ayni air base in Tajikistan was supposed to become a showpiece for India. In the mid-2000s, India's military began renovating the facility, and New Delhi appeared poised in 2006 to announced that Ayni had become operational. But four years later, the base sits largely dormant - an airfield without any fighter jets.
The reason that Ayni is still idle, many in Dushanbe believe, is Russia: Moscow does not want any other country to have use of the base. "They [Tajik officials] don't know what to do with this airbase. We don't need it for ourselves, but to give it to someone else would create problems with other countries," said Faridoon Khodizoda, a political analyst in Dushanbe.
Information about the base is closely held. The Russian Embassy in Dushanbe did not respond to requests for comment. A spokesman at the Indian Embassy in Dushanbe said he could not comment on Ayni, but referred questions to the Ministry of Defense of Tajikistan. The Ministry of Defense did not respond to requests for comment.
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Joshua Kucera is a Washington, DC,-based freelance writer who specializes in security issues in Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Middle East.