Translation exercise (just for fun)
US military transportplanes are sitting side by side on the airfield. Soldiers, maybe from Idaho or Texas, are idly talking while leaning against a hummer painted in camouflage needed in Afghanistan. The soldiers ignore the nosy civilians that have just left a russian Aeroflot plane and are now walking towards the airportbuilding, even when some are taking pictures. Only a kirgisian security guard makes a halfhearted attempt after the pictures had long been taken, but nothing really happens.
America isn't hiding its presence on the airport in Manas, near the capital of Bishkek, which has been the airbase used for logistical support for troops fighting against the Taleban in Afghanistan. Why would they? Kirgisians and Russians have long since understood that the western coalition forces fight for their interests as well. China has never been overjoyed by this, mayhaps due to the fact that Manas offered the possibility for aerial military reconaissance on chinese territory. But Russia's and China's pressure on the centralasian countries to stop the american use of airbases in the region is a thing of the past. At least for now, the stabilization of Afghanistan is on the same political agenda of America & the West and Russia. The eviction of the US from Manas has been revised after President Obama stretched his political feelers towards Moscow to test the waters for a new cooperation. Airfield Manas is now dubbed a "transit centre", but it retains its previoius functions. The game between Washington and Moscow had been decisive, tiny Kirgisistan was surely just an extra in this particular play. After all, kirgisian president Kurmanbek Bakijew was able to triple the rent paid by the US for using the airfield.
A new supermarket dubbed "Asija" has opened next to the russian airbase in Kant, not even 40km away from Bishkek. The owners count on russian business. Across the street, a new cafe, "Kafe Rossija", has opened for business as well. There is a sign at the entrance to the airbase which says "russian airbase kant" - next to an old sowjet fighterjet on display. There isn't much to see besides a huge Antonow cargoplane on the tarmac, surrounded by rolling wheatfields, and exercising fighterjetsin the air. Kant is supposed to have a russian sisterairbase in the south of Kirgisistan soon.
One wonders if things grow together postsowjet now that had been united under the sowjets once, or if this is something else entirely. Even during the tulip revolution of 2005, Kirgisian revolutionary politicians had been avoiding antirussian paroles. Bakijew, who rose into power during the revolution, more or less continued the policy of manouvering between the superpowers of his predecessor Aska Akajew. "Kirgisian foreignpolicy has to find its way home", said Bakijew last thursday. Russia would remain a strategic partner for Kirgisistan, and the relations to the centralasian neighbours, especially Usbekistan, should be improved. That doesn't mean that the relations to the USA and the west should be neglected. A policy change is unlikely due to this statement, and the implications of the new russian airbase in the south have to remain mere speculation in this context.
The base close to Tadjikistan, which borders to Afghanistan, is supposed to be a shared trainingcentre for the war against terrorism, and the location seems to have been chosen well. The regional threatassessment is obviously considering the possibility that Tadjikistan could tumble into civil war. Contributing to this might have also been the worry of what might happen in Usbekistan if president Islam Karimow stops to be in power. Karimow is holding the country in a political and economic chokehold for two decades now, but he had never been able to erradicate the opposition completely. And the threatassessment surely considered the threat coming from Afghanistan where the mililtary pressure could cause terrorcells from Afghanistan and Pakistan slipping into its neighbouring countries. That has happened already recently in south kirgisitan. In may and July government troops have had firefights with islamic groups.
(rest following shortly)