Kyrgyzstan: Recent Developments and U.S. Interests
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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Kyrgyzstan is a small and poor Central Asian country that gained independence in 1991 with the breakup of the Soviet Union. The United States has been interested in helping Kyrgyzstan to enhance its sovereignty and territorial integrity, increase democratic participation and civil society, bolster economic reform and development, strengthen human rights, prevent weapons proliferation, and more effectively combat transnational terrorism and trafficking in persons and narcotics. The United States has pursued these interests throughout Central Asia, with special strategic attention to oil-rich Kazakhstan and somewhat less to Kyrgyzstan. The significance of Kyrgyzstan to the United States increased after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States. Kyrgyzstan offered to host U.S. forces at an airbase at the Manas international airport outside of the capital, Bishkek, and it opened in December 2001. The U.S. military repaired and later upgraded the air field for aerial refueling, airlift and airdrop, medical evacuation, and support for U.S. and coalition personnel and cargo transiting in and out of Afghanistan. The Kyrgyz government threatened to close down the airbase in early 2009, but renewed the lease on the airbase renamed the Manas Transit Center in June 2009 after the United States agreed to higher lease and other payments. Current President Roza Otunbayeva has declared that the interim government will support the continued presence of the transit center, although some changes to the lease may be sought in the future, in recognition that ongoing instability in Afghanistan jeopardizes Kyrgyzstan and wider regional security. In 2010, the Manas Transit Center hosted about 850 U.S., Spanish, and French troops and 750 contractors and a fleet of KC-135 refueling tankers.
- Government and Political Science