Thursday, March 05, 2009

Defense: Will Obama’s secret letter to Russia’s Medvedev, save U.S. Airbase in Kyrgyzstan?

The news, which came from the republic of Kyrgyzstan yesterday, showed that the authorities of the republic were probably ready to negotiate the question of the Manas airbase with Washington. It just so happens that the previous decision of the Kyrgyz president to close the US base in the republic may not be final.

It was reported yesterday that the Committee for the Constitutional Legislation and State Structure has delayed the consideration of the question to denounce the agreement with eleven countries of the anti-terrorist coalition about the presence of their military contingents at the air base at the international airport of Bishkek, Manas. The parliamentary meeting, at which the question was supposed to be considered, has been delayed indefinitely, RIA Novosti reports with reference to an official spokesman for the Kyrgyz parliament. The news agency also said that the press service of the parliament did not specify the reasons why the meeting was delayed.

The parliament of Kyrgyzstan approved the denunciation of the US-Kyrgyz agreement about the deployment of the US army base in Manas on February 19. The US Embassy was adequately notified of the decision the following day. Afterwards, the Kyrgyz authorities said that the US base must be closed before August 18 of the current year.

The government of Kyrgyzstan submitted draft laws to the parliament on February 16 to denounce the airbase-related agreements with Australia, Denmark, Italy, Spain, Korea, the Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Poland, Turkey and France. The contingents of these countries use the Manas airbase to maintain their military contingents in Afghanistan.

If Kyrgyzstan is determined to close the US airbase, the country is supposed to conduct adequate procedures with other members of the anti-terrorist coalition.

Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev previously said that the decision to close the airbase was based on economic reasons and was connected with the refusal of the United States to pay a higher rent to the use of the base. Nothing was said about Kyrgyzstan ’s claims to eleven other members of the coalition. On the other hand, it is impossible to imagine that those other countries would continue using the base without the States.

Media outlets published numerous reports about the secret letter, which President Obama supposedly sent to his Russian counterpart. In the letter (if the reports are true, of course), Obama particularly set out a hope that Moscow would not encourage the exclusion of US servicemen from Kyrgyzstan. The US administration tends to believe that the former Soviet republic made the decision under the pressure of the Kremlin, although the latter repeatedly affirmed that it was a sovereign decision of Kyrgyzstan.

If Obama sent the secret letter to Medvedev indeed, it may mean that Russia (and Kyrgyzstan) took US hopes into consideration.

Source: Pravda
Published by Mike Hitchen, Mike Hitchen Consulting
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