Monday, September 01, 2014


Atambaev Wants To Close U.S. Air Base, But Can He?

U.S. soldiers inspect military planes at the Manas air base in Kyrgyzstan.
U.S. soldiers inspect military planes at the Manas air base in Kyrgyzstan.
Kyrgyz President-elect Almazbek Atambaev has made headlines by announcing that the U.S. air base outside Bishkek – currently known as Transit Center at Manas -- should be shut down by 2014.

American soldiers will leave the Manas base completely after the current lease agreement expires in mid 2014, Atambaev said in his first press conference after the October 30 elections, which he won with over 60 percent of the vote.

"I don't want some country to launch a retaliatory strike on the base," Atambaev said, adding that the U.S. is often engaged in conflicts in different countries.

Previously, as prime minister, Atambaev made similar remarks against Kyrgyzstan's hosting of the air base, an important transit point for Western forces in Afghanistan.

With his new status, however, his warning over the Manas base has attracted unprecedented attention from regional media, which began reading between the lines and speculating over the future of Kyrgyzstan's relationships with the United States and Moscow.

Leaning Toward Russia?

"U.S. State Department Alarmed Over The Fate of Manas Airbase In Kyrgyzstan," one headline screamed in ferghana.ru, a popular website that focuses on Central Asian news.

"Kant Overcomes Manas. Americans To Be Evicted From Kyrgyzstan," announced Russia's "Izvestiya" daily within hours of Atambaev's press conference on November 1. (Kant is a Russian air base located some 20 kilometers from downtown Bishkek.) 

In another report, "Izvestiya" said Atambaev "made his first political decision in favor of Russia."

Kyrgyz President-elect Almazbek Atambaev
Kyrgyz President-elect Almazbek Atambaev
The publication quotes experts as saying that the "decision over Manas demonstrates that the new Kyrgyz president has already determined who his allies are."

There will be "U.S. pressure" on Kyrgyz leaders over the Manas issue, the newspaper predicts, adding that Bishkek will be hoping for Russian support.

Quoting sources inside the Russian Finance Ministry, "Izvestiya" reports that Russia is expected to approve a $107-million loan to Kyrgyzstan through the Eurasian Economic Community as a token of such support.

The Russian-led regional grouping brings together six former Soviet states, including Kyrgyzstan.

Limits To Presidential Authority

In any event, however, even if Atambaev wants to end the U.S. military presence in his country or decides to favor Russia in Bishkek's policymaking, does he have the authority as president to do so?

It might not be so easy, considering that Kyrgyzstan's newly minted constitution significantly limits the president's powers.

According to Article 64 of the constitution, which demarcates presidential authority, the president has no political power to determine foreign policy.

"The current agreement over Manas -- signed by the U.S. and Kyrgyz government -- will expire in 2014, but it will be automatically extended for another year unless one of the two sides says they want to discontinue the contract," explains Omurbek Tekebaev, a leading Kyrgyz politician. "They would have to make it known six months before the expiration of the agreement."

Tekebaev, who was the Chairman of the Constitutional Council, which drafted the constitution, made it clear that it is up to the Kyrgyz government to decide whether to terminate or prolong the Manas agreement.

Meanwhile, taking into account Kyrgyzstan's ever-changing political scene and its history of revolutions, it is hard to say what might happen between now and 2014, and who will be calling the shots when the Manas deal runs out after three years.

-- Farangis Najibullah
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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: EUcitizen
November 02, 2011 17:53
U.S. military presence
the biggest attack on the freedom of a country
In Response

by: Joe from: Canada
November 03, 2011 05:58
It's ok, their empire is crumbling before their eyes..... the terrorist American military won't last very long anymore.
In Response

by: M Heise from: Kyrgyzstan
November 03, 2011 11:18
Don't worry, guys. You're on your own now. Lots of luck. You'll need it.
In Response

by: flypaper2222 from: NY
November 06, 2011 14:16
HAHahhahahahahha...LOLOLOLO......another Soviet fanboy daydream.
In Response

by: Seidkazi from: Ma Wara An-Nahr
November 07, 2011 13:04
@flypaper2222: why is Joe a 'Soviet fanboy' for pointing out something of which all symptoms are there and an not be more clear?

Is America becoming the new 'sick man'?
http://www.khilafah.com/index.php/analysis/america/5661-is-america-becoming-the-new-sick-man

Америка превращается в нового ‘‘Больного человека"?
http://www.halifat.info/analysis/63-crisis/252-krah-ameriki.html
In Response

by: Aeolos from: U.A.E.
November 03, 2011 07:13
It was the US presence in Europe that brought freedom to for millions only some 50 years ago. Maybe you are too young to remember or appreciate that ... or too ignorant.

And then it is largely embarrassing to see Europe asking the US for help to clean up the mess in Europe's backyard (Bosnian War).

The Manas Transit Centre is used by European as well as US air forces.
In Response

by: NO PC from: Central Asia
November 03, 2011 10:28
Just a reminder that the British entered the war in 39 and not 41 and as for the US saving our skins, well that is a different matter but to be expected from a closed shop mind. The British were fighting the nazis a long time prior to the rest and would do so again.
In Response

by: neville
November 03, 2011 14:44
great, but if the Brits'd fought them in '38, then a lot of misery would have been avoided. at least the UK has an army now, unlike most of Europe.
In Response

by: EUcitizen
November 04, 2011 19:55
Ohh yes yes

freedom

but with limited sovereignty

with USA & NATO bases anywhere

unable to freely choose our political orientation

we were free to choose if stay with U.S.A
or ....if to stay with U.S.A
In Response

by: EUCitizen
November 04, 2011 20:14
About Bosnia
do you know what did U.S. forces?

They regulary obscured UN's radar for ftransport by air Jadist
who were fighting against Serbs

Those same jadist that soon
become the number one enemy of the U.S.

This was USA do in Bosnia , no more !

In Response

by: Parviz from: France
November 08, 2011 06:41
TO NO PC from Central Asia:

Yes the US entered the war in Dec 1941. How about the Soviet Union, the great liberator of Europe? Does the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact ring a bell to you?
There are many reasons why the US did not enter the war in 1939. Please go back, read and study before furthering a very biased agenda that the US is bad.
In Response

by: Seidkazi
November 08, 2011 09:08
@Aeolos: what you call liberation was basically a collision of different forms of imperialism, true, one more subtle and less murderous than the other. But it's pointless to make the comparison with today (unless you consider Islam as the new Nazi menace, but okay, that is infantile stuff for Spencer, Geller and the wankers of FFI).

Today, the nature of the threat has changed, as it is anchored in a global and rapacious neoliberal capitalism whose dominance is much more pernicious and destructive on the long term than that of old militaristic imperialism.

by: Manas from: Air Base
November 04, 2011 10:55
That Atambaev says he wants to close the air base could mean that he wants more money to keep it and wants to play with it as a balancing act toward Russia. But as we have seen in the past from the fate of the past Kirgiz leaders it may turn into a dangerous game for him.

by: Senjo
November 08, 2011 01:55
Reminds me of the sign in the Philippines when the US closed its base, "Yankee go home.......and take me with you"

by: K from: NO PC INSIDE
November 14, 2011 07:28

by: Parviz from: France
November 08, 2011 06:41


TO NO PC from Central Asia:

Yes the US entered the war in Dec 1941. How about the Soviet Union, the great liberator of Europe? Does the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact ring a bell to you?
There are many reasons why the US did not enter the war in 1939. Please go back, read and study before furthering a very biased agenda that the US is bad.

Parvis - Yes I know all about the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact? Does the Sedatenland ring any bells to you? This is not an anti-US agenda fact is we entered it in 1939 whether anyone likes it or not. As a German once summed up France's effort to me 'it takes two hours to reach Paris from the German border in a BMW but only one hour in a Panzar tank.' As for the Soviets this has never been forgotten in the UK and neither has the Czech Legion, Josip Broz in the Balkans nor the Greek Partizans........ I rest my case.


by: GardenGnome from: US
November 17, 2011 17:48
I don't think it'd be bad if the Air Base closed. I'm tired of being hated.

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