08 April 2010

Crisis in Kyrgyzstan: Could the U.S. Lose Its Base?

Kyrgyzstan is as strange as the sound of its name. For one thing, it's the only nation in the world to host military bases for both the U.S. and Russia. And while it sought — and eventually won — a nearly fourfold rent increase from the Pentagon last year for continued American use of the Manas air base, outside the capital, Bishkek, there was another condition: that the U.S. military stop calling it a base. The U.S. agreed, and so since last summer the busy hub has been officially known as the Transit Center at Manas — a Greyhound bus terminal for central Asia and the U.S. war in Afghanistan.

While U.S. flights into and out of the, uh, transit center were initially suspended following the violent ousting of President Kurmanbek Bakiyev on Wednesday, April 7, limited operations into Afghanistan have resumed, Pentagon officials said Thursday. Acting Prime Minister Roza Otunbayeva has said U.S. operations there can continue for now, although some of her fellow opposition leaders want the U.S. lease terminated or at least shortened.- read more


Opposition supporters burn a billboard displaying Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev during a rally in the northwestern town of Talas on April 6, 2010. Kyrgyz protesters demonstrating against President Kurmanbek Bakiyev stormed a government office in the northwestern town of Talas on Tuesday and there were conflicting reports on the fate of the regional governor. (REUTERS/azattyk.org)


Riot police are attacked by anti-government protesters in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan on April 7, 2010. (REUTERS/Vladimir Pirogov)


A Kyrgyz opposition member throws a projectile at riot police during an anti-government protest in Bishkek on April 7, 2010. (VYACHESLAV OSELEDKO/AFP/Getty Images)


Kyrgyz policemen try to stop opposition supporters during a protest against the government in Bishkek on April 7, 2010. (VYACHESLAV OSELEDKO/AFP/Getty Images)


Kyrgyz police fire tear gas toward protesters near the main government buildings in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan on Wednesday, April 7, 2010. Police in Kyrgyzstan opened fire on thousands of angry protesters who tried to seize the main government building amid rioting in the capital as protests spread across the Central Asian nation. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)


Kyrgyz riot police block a road during an anti-government protest in Bishkek on April 7, 2010. (VYACHESLAV OSELEDKO/AFP/Getty Images)

Opposition supporters protest against the government in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan on April 7, 2010. (VYACHESLAV OSELEDKO/AFP/Getty Images)


A Kyrgyz riot police vehicle burns near the Government building in the capital Bishkek on April 7, 2010. (VYACHESLAV OSELEDKO/AFP/Getty Images)


Kyrgyz riot policemen come under a hail of stones thrown by anti-government protesters in Bishkek on April 7, 2010. (VYACHESLAV OSELEDKO/AFP/Getty Images)


Kyrgyz riot police try to protect themselves as they fall back from stone-throwers in Bishkek on April 7, 2010. (VYACHESLAV OSELEDKO/AFP/Getty Images)


Kyrgyz opposition supporters give chase as riot policemen, some wounded, run for cover in Bishkek on April 7, 2010. (VYACHESLAV OSELEDKO/AFP/Getty Images)


A woman raises her arms in the street during clashes between riot police and anti-government protesters in Bishkek April 7, 2010. (REUTERS/Vladimir Pirogov)


A riot policeman fires teargas toward demonstrators in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan on Wednesday, April 7, 2010. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)


A victim of clashes between riot police and anti-government protesters lies on a bloody sidewalk in Bishkek April 7, 2010. The condition of the victim is unknown. (REUTERS/Vladimir Pirogov)


Kyrgyz opposition supporters carry a man injured near the main government building during an anti-government protest in Bishkek on April 7, 2010. (VYACHESLAV OSELEDKO/AFP/Getty Images)


A car is set on fire in the street during clashes between riot police and anti-government protesters near the presidential administration in Bishkek April 7, 2010. (REUTERS/Vlasimir Pirogov)


Kyrgyz opposition supporters vie for a gun during an anti-government protest in Bishkek on April 7, 2010. (VYACHESLAV OSELEDKO/AFP/Getty Images)


A protester runs towards riot police during clashes in Bishkek April 7, 2010. (REUTERS/Vladimir Pirogov)


A police vehicle burns during an anti-government protest in Bishkek on April 7, 2010. (VYACHESLAV OSELEDKO/AFP/Getty Images)


A Kyrgyz protester kicks one of two captured police officers at the opposition headquarters in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, Wednesday, April 7, 2010. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)


Kyrgyz police officers throw themselves over a wall as they flee from angry protesters, in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan on Wednesday, April 7, 2010. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)

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