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Author`s name Dmitriy Sudakov

USA to expand military presence in Central Asia to show more pressure on Russia and China

Kyrgyzstan has made another step to cancel the Manas airbase lease agreement with the United States. The International Affairs Committee of the Kyrgyz parliament approved the adequate decision February 17. The parliament of the former Soviet republic is expected to give the issue its final consideration February 19.

An official spokesman for the International Affairs Committee, Kabai Karabekov, stated that the session of the ruling party of Kyrgyzstan would become the last instance to ratify the document. In addition, the committee was also ready to consider the denunciation of the agreement with other eleven members of the anti-terrorist coalition.

Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev announced his decision to close the airbase on the territory of the republic in the beginning of February. The parliament will have to say the last word on the matter. Three committees – the international, the constitutional and the defense committee, as well as all three factions of the Kyrgyz parliament - will have to bring down their conclusions. The defense committee has already made a positive decision on the matter.

The US air base opened in Kyrgyzstan in 2001 under the UN mandate to support the coalition-run anti-terrorist operation in Afghanistan. Over a thousand US servicemen and war planes are currently deployed at the base.

The US administration has made a number of attempts recently to expand its military presence in the republic. About 30,000 military men were supposed to be deployed in Manas because the situation in Afghanistan was worsening, US officials claimed.

There is every reason to believe that the Americans are ready to swap Manas for any other base in Central Asia. David Petraeus, chief of the U.S. military's Central Command, arrived in Uzbekistan to sound out an opportunity to organize a US airbase on the territory of this republic. Another Asian country, Tajikistan, does not mind a US airbase on its territory either.

The USA does not hurry to leave the region and intends to settle down there for a very long time. Afghanistan is not relevant here at all. Central Asia is very rich with crude and natural gas, which, as Washington believes, could reach Europe bypassing Russia.

As for Kyrgyzstan, the country borders on Russia and China, which makes it a very good platform to show more pressure on both Russia and China. The USA will do its best to stay in Kyrgyzstan even if the national parliament decides to close the airbase.

Ivan Shmelev

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