ArchiveOODA OriginalRisk Intel Report

Kyrgyzstan: Manas Base Closure a Major Blow to Operations in Afghanistan

Highlights – Kyrgyzstan Parliament defense committee approves base closure – United States actively seeking alternative northern supply route – Russia appeared to play a role in Kyrgyzstan’s decision to close Manas On February 3, 2009 Kyrgyzstan President Kurmanbek Bakiyev stated that the Manas airbase used by the United States (US) would be closed down. The decision to shut down the Manas base was pending a vote within the Kyrgyz Parliament. The country’s Parliament is dominated by the pro-Presidential political party, Ak Zhol, and its actions tend to reflect the will of President Bakiyev. Parliament’s defense committee has already approved the bill to close the base. The committee’s support is one step closer to evicting US forces from the country. A final vote in Parliament is expected in the next couple of days. Ultimately, the Kyrgyz government has been unclear about its decision to close Manas, sending mixed signals to both Russia and the US. While the odds are against the US in being able to continue using the base in Kyrgyzstan, primarily due to increased Russian influence on Kyrgyz officials, it appears Bakiyev and other leaders are delaying the final decision to allow for further negotiation, most notably a change in price. However, because of the defense committee’s approval to close the base, the chance of a last-minute reversal is highly unlikely. Motives It is not coincidental that President Bakiyev announced the Manas base closure in Moscow following talks with Russian officials. A following announcement was also made that Kyrgyzstan had successfully secured US$2 billion in aid and loans from Russia. Currently, the Department of Defense (DoD) pays US$17 million per year for Manas Air Base, part of the larger US$150 million package of assistance to Kyrgyzstan. The overall problem the US faces in Kyrgyzstan, and in the larger Central Asia region, is Russia’s growing frustration with the US and the West as it intervenes in what Moscow’s sees as its “sphere of influence.” While Moscow has denied having anything to do with the base closure, Russia has resented the US military’s presence in Kyrgyzstan since the inception of Manas’s in 2003. Russia is frustrated with Western attempts to expand the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) into parts of Eastern Europe. Specifically, Russia is angered over US plans to base missile interceptors in Poland and a radar station in the Czech Republic as part of its larger missile defense shield. The Manas base closure also comes as Russia is attempting to strengthen the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), specifically boosting the military dimension of the alliance. Stronger regional alliances are likely to give Russia a stronger say in talks with Washington, specifically regarding missile defense issues and Western support for both Ukraine and Georgia. By influencing Bakiyev to close Manas, Russia is ultimately seeking to lesson American influence in Central Asia and enhance its own. Alternatives to Manas The northern supply route is vital for the US and NATO because supply routes in southern Afghanistan and Pakistan are facing increased attacks by Taliban and al Qaeda militants. Nearly 15,000 individuals and 500 tons of cargo transit through Manas each month, making the base a major transport hub and vital to the Afghan mission. Replacing Manas will not be an easy task but the US has other options in mind. At present, nearly 75 percent of US military supplies pass through Pakistan, but this particular route has grown increasingly dangerous and unstable. It is unlikely that NATO will significantly increase supplies along this particular route. Tajikistan is another option, as President Emomali Rakhmon has already offered a transit route for commercial

Want more insight?

This content is restricted to members only. Members get access to all of the content on this site. This includes over 3000 Risk Intel Reports, the Attack Database (10,000 entries), over 3000 Intel Advisories, Threat Group Profiles on 500+ groups and over 100,000 curated OSINT excerpts. Your membership also supports the cost of producing our hand-curated Daily OSINT report.

Please consider becoming a member. For more information please click here. Thanks!
OODA Analyst

OODA Analyst

OODA is comprised of a unique team of international experts capable of providing advanced intelligence and analysis, strategy and planning support, risk and threat management, training, decision support, crisis response, and security services to global corporations and governments.