Days ago, to the apparent shock of Washington, the president and parliament of the nation of Kyrgyzstan decided to evict the United States from the Manas Air Base near the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek – threatening one of the most secure supply routes to NATO forces in Afghanistan. Why was the United States so blindsided, or in other words, what’s behind this revolting development?
According to this analysis from Russia’s Vremya newspaper – what’s behind the move is the Kremlin’s sudden offer of $2 billion to cash-strapped Kyrgyzstan and the political gamesmanship of Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev.
“The desired atmosphere for the vote was provided by a statement Light Path MP Raisa Sidorenko, who informed her colleagues that ‘since the Manas Air base has been present in Kyrgyzstan, almost 160 tons of aviation fuel had been dumped [by the United States] in the Chuskaya Valley.’ Then referring to the analysis of specialists, Ms. Sidorenko noted that ‘one liter of kerosene can pollute a million liters of water.’ According to Sidorenko, because of the dumping of the fuel, ‘almost 92,000 inhabitants of the Chuskaya region have been left without a harvest, and even the deaths of cattle have been observed.’ It is also unclear whether the people of the Chuskaya region who lost their crops will file suit against the air base.”
With the 180-day countdown to eviction having begun, the United States says it is intent on holding on to the base – which according to Dubnov suits Kyrgyzstan just fine:
“And now, no matter how events evolve, the main beneficiary will be the president, Kurmanbek Bakiyev. On the one hand, having made the decision on Manas, he managed to obtain $2 billion in credits from Russia. On the other – like a politically ‘bullying’ stock broker – with his decision, he managed to raise the stock price of his country in Washington. Now whenever presidential elections are called in Kyrgyzstan – whether this year or next – President Kurmanbek Bakiyev’s election for a second term is assured.”
By Arkadiy Dubnov
Translated By Yekaterina Blinova
February 20, 2009
Russia – Vremya – Original Article (Russian)
The Kyrgyzstan Parliament voted almost unanimously yesterday to denounce the agreement with Washington on the U.S. military’s Manas Air Base at the Manas International Airport in Bishkek. Seventy eight members voted “yea” with two abstentions, and one “nay” vote. This one vote of opposition came, as expected, from the chief of the Baktybek Beshimov faction of the Social-Democratic Party, who called the decision “premature.” He noted that the Manas Air Base, like the Russian base in the city of Kante, “is an important link in the collective security system of Eurasia… and that the weakening of that system opens the way for extremism and terrorism.”
A substantial debate on the issue among MPs never occurred on the issue. The bill denouncing the “basic” agreement was guaranteed the necessary 46 vote margin in the 90-member chamber, since the pro-government party Light Path [Ak Zhol] holds an absolute majority.
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