Is it the Price?

The US government had difficulty arranging the current lease of Manas Air Base in Kyrgyzstan, finally agreeing in 2006 to more money, upping the $2.7 million per year it formerly paid to $17.4 million a year, albeit down substantially from the $200 million the Kyrgyz government reportedly wanted. That 2006 deal ostensibly allowed the US to renew the arrangement annually through 2011, but now the Kyrgyz government has decided to oust US and coalition forces operating out of Manas within 180 days. The facility has served as the major airlift hub to sustain operations in Afghanistan. Although Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said last week after the Kyrgyz Parliament vote to close Manas that US officials would “continue our discussions” and did not consider the issue a “closed matter.” However, Whitman reiterated his earlier remarks that there are other options. He said, “It has been an important facility, but it’s not irreplaceable, and, if necessary, we will find other options.” (Includes AFPS report by John Kruzel)