Atambayev on Manas: In the Future, The Iranians Made Me Do It
A load of cash might be one reason Bishkek would keep the Manas Transit Center in Kyrgyzstan. But seeing as the facility is within striking distance of Iranian missiles, it will just have to close in 2014, Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev said on December 29, in full anticipation of a US-Iranian war.Describing the US-led airbase near Bishkek as a “potential threat to the country,” Atambayev mused on the disaster that would unfold if Iranian missiles missed the airbase and landed in a civilian area instead.“Keeping a military base, even for $150 million, is not just a little dangerous but very dangerous,” the president stressed.Apparently the Americans, who are not actually at war with Iran, feel for his predicament.“I am glad that many on the American side understand my position – I’m not playing a political game under the influence of Russia, I’m taking care of my people,” he told parliament.But the question remains if the US will go for Atambayev’s idea of operating the air base and the Manas International Airport as a “major civilian international transport junction.” What’s more, Atambayev thinks Washington should cooperate with Russia to make that happen. Perhaps the president can see all this coming together in the same crystal ball that makes foreign policy decisions on the basis of tragedy-inducing stray missiles launched during war that hasn’t happened yet. Or perhaps Manas’ fate will, like it has on previous occasions, boil down to the cash-in-hand factor. Still, the imaginary Iranians are a novel line and might prove to be a bigger earner than “The Russians made me do it.”
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