US taxpayers to learn three new letters

Does president Obama want a second military base in Kyrgyzstan? US plans to create a second military base in the country were made public on August 7 in a story by one of the top US newspapers.

The story, titled “US base in Kyrgyzstan remains on track despite tensions” did not cite any sources, however. Moreover, the Washington Post's Mr. Pincus specifically stressed the fact that Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake, who is quoted abundantly in the article on other issues, does not say a word about a new base in Kyrgyzstan.

Nevertheless, a lot of media started talking about the creation of a second base as if it were a sealed deal.

According to media reports, the base is to be located in Osh, a Kyrgyz city that saw major riots in June. The Pentagon is to allocate $10 million to finance the construction of the base. The new base, media reports indicate, will be something of a “training camp”, housing soldiers and officers of the US military, armed with mortars and RPGs. The US is not planning to equip the base with heavy vehicles.

In a speech made in Washington’s Carnegie Center last week, Assistant Secretary Blake made no direct references to the training center. He did, however, say that the US hopes to “establish a more accountable and effective police force” in the region, noting that several more attempts to destabilize the situation occurred in Kyrgyzstan last Thursday. Mr. Blake said he viewed the possibility of the situation at the Kyrgyz-Tajik border getting out of control as a threat. Another threat, he said, was the chance of Afghan militants “infiltrating” Central Asia.

“New money” for Kyrgyzstan

Talk about financial aid to Kyrgyzstan has been very frequent lately. Assistant Secretary Blake has mentioned plans to allocate $58 million for the Manas base and $8.6 million as humanitarian aid. Daniel Rosenblum, the coordinator of US aid to Europe and Eurasia pledged in June to disburse $137 million for Kyrgyzstan, $48 million of which he described as “new money to be used to restore the country after the revolution and the events in the south."

It has to be noted that the downfall of former president Bakiyev’s regime was in many ways brought about by the news that the US was providing financial aid to Bakiyev, which later turned into a form of corruption.

An international donors’ conference on July 27 pledged to allocate $1.1 billion of monetary aid to the republic.

Kyrgyzstan is preparing for the election

Farid Niyazov, Head of the Information Center of the interim government in Kyrgyzstan, told RT that Kyrgyzstan is not holding any negotiations about the base:

“The government is not discussing any of such plans. Rosa Otunbayeva (head of the interim government – RT) has said it many times that such issues will be considered by the future government, which will form a new parliament in October 2010.”

Niyazov has stressed that “according to the new constitution, the major issues of foreign and domestic policy will stay within the competence of the parliament and the government, though the president will also participate in decision-making on security issues.”

Farid Niyazov said that he had heard nothing of the US allocating money for building this base, as well as for the election in Kyrgyzstan.

“Sixty million dollars – that’s the rent paid by the US for using the Manas transit center for transferring troops to Afghanistan. This money is incoming. I have no information whatsoever regarding any other money funds. The election in Kyrgyzstan will be funded from the budget of the republic.”

“A decree on lifting the emergency situation and curfew has been signed today. A Decree on the launch of the election campaign on October 10 will be signed tomorrow,” Niyazov said. He believes that the situation in the republic is coming back to normal, but internal stress can still be felt.

“The Russian base in Kant has been created under the auspices of the CSTO. It has been set up in compliance with the agreements with Kyrgyzstan and for the sake of the republic’s security. Russia does not pay for its maintenance. Utility bills are paid from Kyrgyzstan’s budget,” Niyazov stressed.

The three new letters?

According to Alexey Malashenko, a scholar at the Moscow Carnegie Endowment think tank, creating such a base contradicts the interests of the US president:

Fact box

The first US base, Manas, appeared in Bishkek in 2001 after 9/11. In 2009, Kyrgyzstan wanted to cancel the contract, but the US raised the rent up to 60 million dollars. The contract was renewed, while the base was renamed into a transit center.

A Russian Air Force base near the city of Kant. There are fighter aircraft, ground-attack aircraft, and military transport aircraft located there. A contract with Russia was signed in 2009 for the term of 49 years.

Last year the mass media were discussing “the second Russian base” in Kyrgyzstan. However, these plans have neither been put into practice, nor officially confirmed.

“How will American taxpayers feel about the three new letters – OSH (the city’s name – RT) that will appear next to Afghanistan and Iraq aflame? The idea of creating such a base in Osh does not belong to president Obama. It is likely to be nothing more than just plans expressed by a group in Pentagon close to Republicans. It is not the best move for the president.”

Malashenko is confident that these plans are mere words:

“It will be just talk, nothing more. The Americans understand it perfectly well that they should not get involved in another difficult region. They have a base in Manas. It has brought neither victory in Afghanistan, nor has it added order to their actions, while the presence of the Americans is getting on the nerves of the locals. The Kyrgyz have made themselves clear several times that they are against foreign police forces in their country.”

The scholar believes that the new US base is even to Russia’s advantage to a certain extent:

“Such a base will only intensify anti-American sentiments, and the Americans won’t be able to do anything there.”

Nadezhda Kevorkova, RT