Author Topic: US power on the wane in Central Asia  (Read 195 times)

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Offline EC

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US power on the wane in Central Asia
« on: July 17, 2014, 02:25:38 AM »
There would seem, at first glance, little reason for any kind of geopolitical interest in Kyrgyzstan.

A mountainous, landlocked country in central Asia, Kyrgyzstan largely lacks industry, natural resources, and energy reserves. But for years, the country has boasted one foreign credential that all other nations lacked, hosting both a Russian and US military base.

Now, that's changed. On July 11, the US officially vacated its lease at the Manas Transit Centre - formerly the Manas Air Base - and rerouted personnel and materiel to a base in Romania. Nearly 13 years after the US first began using Manas for fuelling and transit missions through Afghanistan, management of the facilities was officially handed over to Kyrgyz authorities on June 3, with some $30m worth of equipment and facilities remaining.

While Washington continues to seek potential new bases in the region, the US is, in effect, vacating Central Asia.

But the US decision did not come of its own volition. Rather, the eviction stems from a fraught history and external pressures, which in 2013 convinced the Kyrgyz parliament to demand US withdrawal.

A troubled history

Manas has been one of the more troubled American bases of the post-9/11 world. The US opened the base in late 2001, seeking a toehold to shuttle troops and run refuelling missions for the war in Afghanistan. By some metrics, the base proved successful. Some 98 percent of service personnel involved in Afghanistan passed through Manas, and more than one billion litres of fuel were offloaded to coalition aircraft. The base grew in significance following the expulsion of the US from Uzbekistan in 2005, caused in part by Washington's criticism of a massacre of hundreds of civilians carried out by the Uzbek government.

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