Getting the Boot

The Kyrgyzstan parliament voted Feb. 19 as predicted to oust the US military from Manas Air Base, which has served as a key mobility hub for US and coalition operations in Afghanistan. Fox News reports that the vote was 7801 with two abstentions to cancel the lease arrangement with the US and close the facility within 180 days. US officials believe that Russia has had a role in this turnaround. Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters Feb. 18 that the US must work through its relationship with Russia “in a constructive way that allows us to move forward,” even though some of their actions “give us a problem.” For instance, he said, “I think that the Russians are trying to have it both ways with respect to Afghanistan, in terms of Manas.” He added, that on one hand Moscow is “making positive noises about working with us in Afghanistan,” but on the other hand is “working against us in terms of that air field, which is clearly important to us.” Go figure. (Gates transcript)