Foreign Policy Blogs

Kyrgyzstan: Tension at Manas AFB

Bruce Pannier writes about current tensions over Manas Air Force Base near Bishkek for RFE/RL.

With the Kharsi-Khanabad AFB closed in Uzbekistan, Manas is more important than before.  One thing I did not realize right away: the USAF shares this airport with Kyrgyzstan's private use, which has to add to the tension there.  In September 2006, there was a runway collision between a private plane with 52 passengers and a US fuel plane, which resulted in a fire and no casualties.

Manas AFB Outreach, Dec 2005According to a friend of mine who travels in and out of Manas, American servicemen and women were allowed to mingle in Bishkek fairly freely until the four-day kidnapping of a US Major on September 5 of last year.  After that still-unresolved incident, Manas base security dictated that the social exchange between US military and the Kyrgyzstani locals become far more circumscribed. 

Photo: Air Force Link