Remember back when the Russians bribed the Kyrgyz government with a $2 billion aid package in order to kick the Americans out of the Manas airbase, severely hampering the U.S. government’s ability to operate in Afghanistan? Well it looks like those clever guys in Bishkek are double dipping, and are now taking more than three times the rent to allow NATO to continue to use the airbase. (I wonder if the Russians got a money-back guarantee on this one.)
There also appears to be a presidential “election” next month that Kurmanbek Bakiyev is hoping that Washington will not criticize. It makes one wonder how they assign value to all these political and strategic favors – I would think that having everybody ignore a stolen election would be worth at least one free airbase. So at the end of the day, Bakiyev gets $2 billion from the Russians for nothing, three times the rent from the Americans while retaining the right to kick them out in another six months, and a criticism-free seizure of power. Oh yes, and the war continues, and Obama and Medvedev have one less sticking point for the July summit. You’ve got to love Central Asian politics.
From the Financial Times:
Kadyrbek Sarbayev, the Kyrgyz foreign minister, saidWashington had agreed to more than triple the rent for use of the Manasbase, a transit hub for refuelling aircraft and military personnelbound for Afghanistan .
Kyrgyzstan gave the US 6-months to vacate Manas last February afteraccepting a promise of $2bn of financial assistance from Russia whichobjects to the presence of US troops in former Soviet central Asia.
Mr Sarbayev said a one-year agreement signed with the US would increaseannual payments for use of Manas to $60m from $17m. The US would alsoprovide $67m to improve the airport and contribute funds to combat drugtrafficking and terrorism in Kyrgyzstan.