Posted by: Christian | June 23, 2009

US and Kyrgyzstan Settle on Price of Manas Air Base

Oh yawn. The Moroccan carpet salesman versus the stingy western tourist dance has apparently ended. The United States government has reached a deal with Kyrgyz Prime Minister Bakiev’s extended patronage network government on the exact price of using the Manas air base to transit “goods” to Afghanistan. Reuters reports:

The United States has agreed to pay $180 million to Kyrgyzstan to keep open the last remaining U.S. air base in Central Asia which is used to supply troops fighting Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan. The United States has been bargaining with Kyrgyzstan to keep the Manas air base open since February when the former Soviet republic announced its closure after securing pledges of $2 billion in aid and credit from Russia.

Oh no! What ever shall we do with our paranoid Russocentric geopolitical chicanery explanations for everything? [I do not recommend viewing Russia’s Afghanistan policies through the lens of Europe and the Caucasus] Just FYI, the Russians do not want the Taliban on the Amu Darya, AKA “the soft underbelly.”

Photo via flickr user RaskarKarpak: Manas airbase

$180 million? What would that get you? A one-third share in an F-22 at the bulk rate?

Winners: tourist with carpet and carpet seller’s immediate family and “associates.”

Note: Yes, this counts as my one-per-week summer blogging commitment.


  1. Just FYI, the Russians do not want the Taliban on the Amu Darya, AKA “the soft underbelly.”

    I imagine they’re terrified of the (Pashtun) Taliban managing to fight their way all the way through central and northern Afghanistan (full of Tajiks, Kirgiz and Uzbeks, none of whom like the Pashtun) and into Tajikistan and Kirgizstan (also, ahem, full of Tajiks, Kirgiz and Uzbeks, similarly disposed) and from there into… what, southern Siberia?
    Doesn’t quite work for me, sorry. They were worried about the muj in the 80s precisely because they were drawn from the same ethnic groups that occupied the Central Asian republics. But Pashtun cross border raids? Unlikely.

  2. Did I say Pashtun cross border raids? Did I say the Taliban would be in Irkutsk? Please don’t take a single point, change it and then go ad absurdum and try to say I said it.

    The Russians supported anti-Taliban forces in the late 1990s because they most definitely did not want the former Soviet states to share a border with the Taliban. And they most definitely are still of the same mind.

    BTW, Viewing things through ethnicity won’t work most of the time.

  3. Paging Mr Rustam, one, two…


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