News

    Manas Air Base in Kyrgyzstan is Major Hub in Afghan War Effort

    The government of Kyrgyzstan says it will close the Manas air base to U.S. forces. But the decision still has to be approved by the country's parliament. The base is located in northern Kyrgyzstan, not far from the capital Bishkek.

    Andrew Hoehn with the RAND Corporation says the United States has been leasing the air base for several years now. "This goes back to 2001 shortly after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in September of 2001 as the United States was contemplating action against the Taliban and al-Qaida inside Afghanistan. It needed to make arrangements to gain access to the region more broadly. And at that time, on a fairly urgent basis, relationships were forged with Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan so as to be able to use air facilities, airfields in both countries. It was at Karshi-Kanabad in Uzbekistan and at Manas in Kyrgyzstan," he said.

    Since 2001, the Manas airfield has played a critical role in the U.S. and NATO war effort in Afghanistan. "It moves about 500 tons of cargo and supplies every month and about 15,000 people transiting through there every month as well. And on the refueling side it is really, really important for aircraft that are flying over Afghanistan both for search and rescue missions, say for downed pilots and things of that nature, as well as for bombing raids," said Jason Lyall, with Princeton University.

    Last year, more than 11,000 aircraft were refueled over the skies of Afghanistan by tankers based at Manas.

    Analysts such as Michael Williams from the University of London, say in the past few months, Manas' role has become even more important. "Given the fact that the current supply routes run from Pakistan and they come from Karachi, from the sea, all the way up the country into southern and eastern Afghanistan. And given the insecurity, both in the provinces of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan and in southern and eastern Afghanistan, it has been quite difficult ensuring regularity of supplies. NATO has had several convoys attacked. Several hundred NATO vehicles were destroyed in a single ambush a few months ago," he said.

    Manas is now the only base leased by the United States in Central Asia. In 2005, the Uzbek government, pressured by Russia, evicted U.S. forces from the Karshi-Kanabad airfield. And now the Kirghiz government is trying to do the same with Manas.

    Analysts, such as Robert Legvold with Columbia University, say Russia certainly played a role in the Kirghiz decision to close the base to U.S. forces, a move that still needs to be approved by the country's parliament. "It would appear to be more than a coincidence that the decision was announced to the Americans in Moscow when (Kurmanbek) Bakiyev, the president of Kyrgyzstan, was in Moscow and immediately after he'd received this large package of aid, a $2 billion credit and a $150 million grant. That appears to be more than a coincidence, not the least since we know that the Russians have been urging both the Uzbeks and the Kirghiz to set a deadline by which the Americans should be removed from the base, or by which the outsiders should be pushed out of the central Asian facilities."

    Russian and Kirgyz officials have denied any link between Moscow's aid package and Bishkek's decision to close the air field to the U.S. military. Many experts, including Jason Lyall from Princeton University, say Manas' closure comes at a bad time since the U.S. is increasing the number of forces in Afghanistan. "It is extremely poor timing. It's going to make the movement of the troops very, very difficult. And unless the United States can scramble and find some kind of other alternative, route perhaps through Turkey, perhaps through one of the other central Asian republics, this is going to seriously compromise the logistics," he said.

     

    Many analysts say one of the key stumbling blocks is Kyrgyzstan's demand for a significant increase in the lease. The U.S. currently pays more than $17 million a year for the use of Manas - and that is part of an overall $150 million economic package to Bishkek. Experts say the issue may come down to how much more the U.S. is willing to pay to keep a vital airfield operational in its Afghan war effort.

     

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora