Manas - a transit point or a military air base? - Trend News columnist

Politics Materials 24 June 2009 09:45 (UTC +04:00)

Trend European redaction columnist Victoria Zhavoronkova

Less than six months since the signing of a decree by President of Kyrgyzstan Kurmanbek Bakiev on the withdrawal of NATO to the territory of the republic and its ratification by Parliament passed, the Government of the Central Asian republic reviews its decision.

On Monday, the Government of Kyrgyzstan and the United States concluded an agreement under which the transit center will be established to support the U.S. anti-terrorist action forces in Afghanistan.

This agreement has already been unanimously approved by the Committee on Defense, security and law and the parliament of Kyrgyzstan, RIA Novosti reported.

Now the base will serve to "support for international forces in Afghanistan, including assisting the Afghan government."

Manas base of the antiterrorist coalition  started its activity in the territory of the republic after the terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11. It was opened in December 2001 with the mandate of the UN to support U.S. operations in Afghanistan, "Enduring Freedom".

Now about one and a half thousand U.S. troops and other coalition countries, as well as military transport aircraft and aircraft-refueller located at Manase airbase.

This spring Parliament of Kyrgyzstan terminated an agreement with the United States and 11 countries of the antiterrorist coalition to deploy their troops in the country.

For the withdrawal of troops there was fixed a period of six months, which expires in August.

One of the reason of rthe closure of Manas base, the last U.S. base in Central Asia, was tols as provision of credit to Kyrgyzstan by Russia in amount of 2 billion dollars.

Now, when seemingly the last military servicemen were to gather their belongings to leave the base, the Kyrgyz Government reviews its decision. There may be many explanations. Many experts believe that despite the widespread view that Russia has pushed Kyrgyzstan, its closure was not profitable for Moscow. Afghanistan is close to Russia, and the destabilization of the situation there, as well as the revitalization of the Taliban, which may be the consequence of complete withdrawal of Americans from the Manas base, can harm it.

Therefore, the question of withdrawal of Manas, which is of great interest to the United States could become a platform for negotiations of two world powers. Many experts predicted a compromise that would suit both sides - and Washington and Moscow. It is unclear whether such a decision on the use of bases to be a compromise.

This decision could be taken Bakiev alone. Kyrgyzstan is located in a very difficult political and economic situation. This country has a large external debt, lack of electricity and the means to address these problems. Bishkek, seemed to catch any chance to get supplies from abroad. In the winter it was a loan from Russia, now the operation fee for base from United States.

According to preliminary data, "new" Manas will cost U.S. $ 60 million.

According to reports, via the transit center there will be transported non-military goods, while, through the "old" Manas also military equipment transported.

There is not yet known further developments around Manas base. We can onley watch where will turn the country government next time. Perhaps Manas "transit center" - is just a new name for the anti-terrorism base, which was already familiar to residents of Kyrgyzstan.