US-NATO War Plan Undermined? Kyrgyzstan Upheaval Endangers US Route to Afghanistan
The US military is keeping a wary eye on the uprising in Kyrgyzstan, as it may affect a US military base in the Central Asian nation that supplies troops in Afghanistan, the US daily New York Times reported Thursday.
The newspaper said that US President Barack Obama had long courted now-deposed Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev to allow the continued use of the Manas military air base near the capital Bishkek, which houses 1,500 soldiers, DPA reported.
Bakiyev had initially cancelled the arrangement last year, but revived it after the US offered to pay 60 million dollars instead of the previously agreed-upon 17 million dollars.
Observers had deemed the initially planned closure of the base a concession by Kyrgyzstan to Russia and neighbouring China. Moscow granted the impoverished former Soviet republic loans shortly after.
Russia, however, also supports the US in its Afghanistan mission.
It had nevertheless opposed the idea of the US base, along with the Kyrgyz opposition, the newspaper reported. Opposition leaders had criticized the US for courting an authoritarian president while also hailing democracy, a situation they called embarassing.
That same opposition movement now appears set to take over power, placing the future of the base in doubt. Kyrgyz media had previously reported that the US planned to expand its presence in the country, which dates back to 2001.
Washington also secured transit agreements with the Central Asian republics of Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan last year to supply its troops in Afghanistan.