Kyrgyzstan Boots U.S. Forces, Air Base Set For 2014 Closure.

President Almazbek Atambayev of Kyrgyzstan has reaffirmed his intent to evict U.S. forces from Manas Transit Center, a small air base located on the outskirts of Manas International Airport, in 2014.  Manas Transit Center, the only U.S. military base located within the former Soviet Union, has long been an object of protest by Kyrgyz politicians. Repeated attempts at closure from the Kyrgyz Parliament led to renegotiation of the lease contract in 2009, with parliament relenting only after the U.S. agreed to increase annual rent to $60 million.

As the Associated Press reports:

“President Almazbek Atambayev has repeatedly pledged to shut the Manas Transit Center next year… The United States pays $60 million annually for the base. Atambayev said Tuesday the Kyrgyz Cabinet had drafted a bill on the base closure and submitted it to parliament…  All U.S. troops moving in and out of nearby Afghanistan travel through Manas. Large numbers of troops are set to flow through the facility as part of the withdrawal of most international troops next year.”

Previously, Atambayev had given the impression that he would approve of Manas Transit Center remaining under U.S. control past Afghan withdrawal, under the assumption that the rent contract would be increased yet again. However, President Atambayev changed his stance in 2011, stating that the lease would not be renewed, and that Kyrgryzstan would replace the lost rent income with other economic projects. He reiterated his position late last year, stating that “Manas should be a civil airport… The Manas airport should not be a military base for any country. I have already said this to the US authorities several times.”

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