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Manas airbase to stay in Kyrgyzstan

July 4, 2009

So Manas airbase is staying in Kyrgyzstan… as a cargo facility to support military actions of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Briefly about the base: Manas airbase, aka Ganci, was opened in 2001 to support the military operations ongoing in Afghanistan. It is an important hub for US and NATO forces in their campaign in Afghanistan. Its importance rised after the closure of Karshi-Khanabad airbase of US in Uzbekistan in 2005, after US severely criticized the Uzbek governments actions during Andijan events. In February this year, the Kyrgyz parliament made a decision to close the base. And it coincided with the announcement that Russia would give 2 bln USD in credit and investment to Kyrgyzstan, which made many think that these two decisions are somehow connected..

Majority of experts and political scientists had been expecting that Manas base would stay anyway. Even on the eve of Jogorku Kenesh‘s (Kyrgyz parliament) decision to close the airbase, some PM’s from the ruling party Ak Zhol made statements that there was a big chance that Manas base, as a military base, would be closed, but if changed in terms of usage and objectives, could stay. And it was obvious that US would work hard to win it back, especially after the announcement of Obama’s plan to focus efforts on Afghanistan.

And cha-ching $$$ – more than 170 mln USD payment, huh? 🙂 Time will show if the Kyrgyz government gets this money or not.

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