Thursday, February 19, 2009
There’s more to eviction of US troops from Kyrgyzstan than a few billion dollars
by Larry Geller
Today’s Advertiser ran a Washington Post story on the upcoming eviction of the United States from a key military base in Kyrgyzstan. The story reported that the vote to cancel the lease agreement followed an offer from Russia of $2.15 billion in aid. It’s true that Kyrgyzstan is a very poor country, and a billion dollars is still real money there, so the explanation passes the truthiness test.
But there’s more, which was reported in another Washington Post story:
Widespread public discontent in Kyrgyzstan over the U.S. military presence has been sharpened in recent years by a number of high-profile incidents surrounding the base.
In late 2006, a U.S. serviceman fatally shot truck driver Alexander Ivanov during a routine security check. U.S. officials said Ivanov threatened the serviceman with a knife. On a recent visit to Kyrgyzstan, U.S. Gen. David Petraeus said an investigation into the killing had been reopened.
Sarbayev also complained that the United States has failed to adequately compensate Kyrgyzstan for $650,000 worth of damage caused to a civilian Tu-154 plane when it collided with a U.S. KC-135 tanker aircraft.
Also this from today’s Democracy Now:
Kyrgyz Parliament Votes to Close US Air Base
In Kyrgyzstan, lawmakers have voted to close a key US air base used for the occupation of Afghanistan. Earlier today, the Kyrgyz parliament voted 78-to-1 in favor of shuttering the Manas Air Base. The base is a transit point for 15,000 troops and 500 tons of cargo each month. But it’s become widely unpopular amidst opposition to US foreign policy and controversy over US refusal to pay a higher fee. The US has also refused to revoke the immunity of a US soldier who fatally shot a Kyrgyz truck driver in late 2006. The move comes one day after President Obama ordered an additional 17,000 troops to Afghanistan. The head of NATO forces in Afghanistan, General David McKiernan, praised the decision. [Democracy Now, 2/19/2008]
Closing this base will make it tougher on the US to supply and conduct its war in Afghanistan. If you missed it, check out US arms intended for Afghanistan for sale to Taliban in Peshawar bazaar which described that “almost half of the US supplies passing through Pakistan is pilfered by motley groups of Taliban militants, petty traders and plain thieves.” Almost half. That’s a massive failure in an ongoing military operation.
Plus, Russia was reported to be cozying up to the Afghan government.
Ian Lind also wrote about Afghanistan this morning, with some good links.
Afghanistan is now Obama’s quagmire, and perhaps we should ask sooner rather than later why we are fighting there. Afghanistan is not a threat to this country. Is he trying to capture Osama bin Laden, which George Bush could not do?
Osama is in Pakistan probably. Over there, the government is letting the Taliban establish Islamic Law in the Swat Valley. Google that and weep.