Kyrgyzstan fears Iranian attack over US facilities
* Kyrgyz president says US base in Kyrgyzstan cannot be used against Iran
MOSCOW: Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev, who is in Russia on a two-day working visit, said on Saturday that if there was a possible conflict between the United States and Iran, Tehran could deliver a missile strike at American facilities in Kyrgyzstan.
However, the Kyrgyz president said the US airbase in Kyrgyzstan could not be used against Iran. He stressed that the US base at Bishkek’s airport “cannot go beyond the mandate” which “allows support to an operation only if it is carried out in Afghanistan”.
“I have said many times that there must be no military facilities at a civilian airport,” the president pointed out. He noted that the American military should leave Bishkek’s airport by 2014.
Transit Centre at Manas (formerly Manas Air Base and unofficially Ganci Air Base) is a United States military installation at Manas International Airport, near Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. The base is primarily operated by the US Air Force.
It was opened in December 2001 to support US military operations in the ongoing war in Afghanistan. It has hosted forces from several other International Security Assistance Force member states as well. The base is a transit point for US military personnel coming to and going from Afghanistan.
It has good recreation facilities for soldiers (internet cafes, wireless internet, pool tables, free video games, telephones that allow coalition forces to call their homes at little or no cost). The base has a large dining facility, gymnasium and a chapel. There is even a library where books and magazines are available for the active duty airmen there.
Several events, such as the shooting of a local civilian and rumours of fuel dumping, have led to strained relations with some of the local population. Regional powers such as Russia and China have been pushing for the closure of the base since 2005. afp