Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Kyrgyzstan to Close Air Base - Bidding War Coming?

Russian media reported that Kyrgyzstan's President Kurmanbek Bakiyev got multi-billion-dollar loans from Russia. And, has decided to close the Manas Air Base to America. President Bakiyev said that " 'all due procedures' were being initiated to close Manas Air Base...." (CNN)

Those "all due procedures" apparently didn't include letting America know. General David Petraeus went to Kyrgyzstan last month. One item on his agenda was to lobby the Kyrgyz government to let America keep using the base.1 As CNN put it: "He said he and Kyrgyz leaders did not discuss 'at all' the possible closure of the base and said local officials told him there was 'no foundation' for news reports about the issue."

Looking around the news a bit more, it seems that the American State Department hasn't received an eviction notice: but it does look like the base will be closing.

Million-Dollar Lease vs Billion-Dollar Loans?

Here's the deal: America has been paying Kyrgyzstan $17,400,000 a year to lease the Manas air base. The lease agreement says that Kyrgyzstan has to give 180 days notice, if it wants to break the agreement: about six months. The current lease expires in July.

That lease agreement is part of a $150,000,000 payout from America to the Kyrgyz government. Which seems to be around a tenth as much money as Russia's offering.

Official eviction notice or no, my guess is that we've got a bidding 'war' on our hands. And Kyrgystan is in a powerful bargaining position.

Some Air Base in One of the 'Stans - Yes, It's Important

President Obabama says he wants to double American troop strength in Afghanistan: which seems a reasonable move. Since someone destroyed a bridge in the Khyber Pass yesterday, and there aren't all that many ways into Afghanistan, the Manas air base has become very important.

Right now, each month, 15,000 Americans and 500 tons of equipment go through Manas, which is now one of the very few ways of reaching Afghanistan. (FOXNews)

Post-Cold-War Asia and the CSTO

The Manas air base wouldn't be idle if America stops leasing it. Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan have formed the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). They'll need an air base: and it looks like Manas is it. (CNN)

The CSTO has been around for several years. I suppose it could be an effort by Russia to re-build the Soviet empire: but since the smaller countries' leaders are talking as if they are negotiating independently, maybe it's not.

Anyway, it looks like keeping the Manas air base open for American military transports is going to be much more expensive than it was before. If it's possible at all.

This isn't the best news I've read this week.

In the news: Background:
1 "Lobby?" To "let" America do something? Doesn't sound like the Amerika that's supposed to go stomping around the world, oppressing the weak and generally throwing its weight around. Oh, well: chauvinists of any stripe aren't about to let mere facts get in the way of their assumptions.

3 comments:

Brigid said...

"President Obabama says he wants to double American troop strength in Afghanistan: which seems a reasonable move."

Might want to change this.

Politics and the Future said...

"The CSTO has been around for several years. I suppose it could be an effort by Russia to re-build the Soviet empire: but since the smaller countries' leaders are talking as if they are negotiating independently, maybe it's not"

I believe they are trying to rebuild a form of a Soviet empire or union. Maybe not, but look Russia is flexing their muscles,

the CSTO is not to be trusted it will be led by a team of dictators. Clearly Russia is ran is by a dictator why should we trust the CSTO?

Afghanistan, We need troops there but if we are focusing on there maybe we should try Pakistan as well. The closing of the Manas Air Base is not a good decision. This will effect our war in Afghanistan we will suffer more losses.and we will lose more battles we need all the support we can get. and all the ways into the nation while we are fighting this war on terror.

Brian, aka Nanoc, aka Norski said...

Brigid,

"President Obabama says he wants to double American troop strength in Afghanistan: which seems a reasonable move." That's what I meant to say.

Afghanistan is still, or again, a critical front in the War on Terror. Particularly now that Pakistan is (in effect) ceding territory to the Taliban.

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Blogroll

Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.