Foreign Policy Blogs

Friday Fun and Manas Shenanigans

I don’t want to beat a dead horse here, but there continues to be breaking news regarding the closure of the US Manas base in Kyrgyzstan. Alexander Cooley at the Herald Tribune has an inside view of the US displacement from the air base and argues that the US did the prudent thing by walking away. Cooley reports that for the first few years of US usage of the base, former Kyrgyz dictator Akayev would just collect and funnel all the US financial rent payments for his inner circle, unfortunately not surprising. What is most disturbing is that it appears current President Bakiyev was basically doing the same thing.

It is a fact that rent payments kept on getting higher, a logical business move by the Kyrgyz leaders, and with Russia as a competitor the US would have probably been stuck in ever rising financial commitments to maintain the base. If the US folded under pressure during this recent Moscow loan/aid takeover of Kyrgyzstan, it would have likely opened itself up to similar blackmail efforts at its other bases throughout the globe.

In other breaking news regarding the base issue, it appears that the US was actually preparing to enlarge the Manas air base in the very near future. The US was contacting contractors for a $100 million project expanding landing sites and building an area where explosive cargo could be loaded/unloaded. So this is indeed a serious strategic lose for the US/NATO Afghan war effort. Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and maybe even Turkmenistan will be on the US base search radar.

Friday Culture

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Distinguished travel writer Jeffrey Tayler has made an adventurous trip from Moscow’s Red Square, through the CA states, all the way to Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.  He spends most of his time in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.  Here are two reviews of his book ‘Murderers in Mausoleums’: Washington Post, Seattle Times.

Here is another travel tale of a husband and wife (the wife is Alice Albinia, a writer) traveling by train from Germany all the way to China’s Xinjiang Province, where they spend time in Urumqi and Kashgar.  Sounds like a blast!

Lastly, here is an old regional myth about the Golden Horse of Central Asia.

 

Author

Patrick Frost

Patrick Frost recently graduated from New York University's Masters Program in Political Science - International Relations. His MA thesis analyzed the capabilities and objectives of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Central Asia and beyond and explored how these affected U.S. interests and policy.

Areas of Focus:
Eurasia, American Foreign Policy, Ideology, SCO

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