Manas Base Commission

by Nathan Hamm on 4/26/2006

The fate of the US military in Kyrgyzstan apparently depends not just on a new deal for base payments but also on some sort of expert study.

The defense minister of Kyrgyzstan said Wednesday that a decision on the future of a U.S. airbase near Bishkek would be made after experts complete a study of the facility.

“A group of experts is currently working, and a decision will be made after it has finished its work,” Ismail Ismailov told a meeting in Beijing of his counterparts from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a regional security grouping.

I kind of get the sense that this is a phony statement designed to deflect pressure from other SCO members, particularly Russia and China. Bakiev does not appear to have any particular love for the United States, but he certainly does seem like the sort whose affections can be bought.

On the other hand, perhaps there really is some kind of expert commission working on a report that will determine the fate of the base without regard to annual payments (or perhaps that is what the experts are studying). It may already be a foregone conclusion that the US base, for example, causes too much environmental harm as a result of dumped fuel and that it is much preferable from such a standpoint to only host foreign air forces that do not actually fly any missions or contribute to regional security in any noticeable way.

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Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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